Scott Novis

Year in Review Game

year in review game

A Fast, Fun Way to Get Ready For New Years With Your Family

I call this game “Love, Learn, & Grow.” It is a modification on my son’s phrase, “You live, you learn, you grow.” I got the idea when I looked at my stack of journals from 2018 and thought – No way. Tim Ferriss, in his blog, talks about how he goes through his journals and catalogs a variety of things to help him plan for his next year to have a better year.

In typical Tim Ferriss fashion it is brilliant, over the top, and completely overwhelming to pull off. I have tried three times to do this myself, and I rarely get past ¼ of a year. This year, I decided to do something different.

I also wanted to do something that involved the rest of my family. Piling through a year’s worth of journals can be a lonely exercise. With everyone home from school, I suddenly remembered the “Prompt Questions,” we use in our Entrepreneur Meetings. When we open a forum meeting, we often ask a question to generate more sharing. I liked this idea but how could I apply it to a year in review?

I decided to simplify and streamline. Thus was born Love, Learn, and Grow.

Here’s how it goes.

  1. I made 12 cards with the name of each month on them. I grouped the cards into 4 piles of 3. Each pile represents a quarter (and roughly a season).
  2. I then made three cards for each family member (total of 15). There is one Love card, one Learn card, and one Grow card for each person.

I made all the cards by hand using 3×5 index cards.

We spread the month cards out on the dining room table, and I distributed a Love, Learn, and Grow card to each family member. We then took turns placing cards and sharing our memories from 2018. It was magic.

Here are the rules if you want to do this yourself.


  • Everyone gets three cards.
  • There are 12 months
  • Play one card at a time, in any order that makes sense to you. Place the card on the month you most strongly associate with that memory.
  • Tell your story and share

How to Play

  1. Layout the 12-month cards in 4 columns of 3 (or 3 rows of 4) in the middle of the table so everyone can reach them.
  2. Make sure everyone has a love, learn, and grow card.
  3. Start play to the dealers right.
  4. A player chooses one card to play. She may pick any card she wishes. She may play the cards in any order.
  5. The player places the card face up on top of the month he most strongly associates with his memory.
  6. She shares her memory.
  7. Play advances to the next player.
  8. The game lasts precisely 3 rounds until everyone has played his last card.

Some Extra rules:

  • You win by participating
  • You win because you will take away more than you brought
  • Be supportive
  • Be authentic
  • No criticizing, judging, or haranguing.
  • This isn’t a game as much as it is a coordinate set of prompts. The intention is to cultivate memories, reflection, and sharing.


  • If you can play more than one round you want.
  • You can also try to cover all 12 months before any cards double up on a single month.
  • You can have everyone play in the same card sequence (All the Love, All the Learn, all the Grow)
  • You have a rule that everyone must alternate cards (Can’t play a Love after a Love, etc.)

Year Cards

The year cards are four sets of three.

  1. January, February, and March in blue (for winter).
  2. April, May, and June in Green (for spring).
  3. July, August, and September in Brown (for summer).
  4. October, November, and December in Grey (for fall).

The Love, Learn and Grow Cards

There is one of each, for each player. Having only one card of each type keeps the game manageable and short. Asking people to reflect on a whole year can be intimidating. There is also a secret to the cards. I’ll tell you what it is after I explain them.

The Love Card

The love card is pink with a heart in the middle. The rule for this card is: Pick a memory from the past year that you don’t want to forget. This is where you loved, or you felt loved. The Love card is about connection, purpose, and relatedness. It is not limited to romantic, or family love. It represents the well being that comes from being connected to other people you care about and who care about you.

Play the card on the month you most strongly associate with that memory.

Examples include:

  • A romantic weekend with a spouse
  • A night out with friends
  • An adventure that caused your team to bond

The Learn Card

The Learn card is purple with a book in the middle. The rule for this card is: Share some wisdom you discovered over the last year. This wisdom can be a discovery, a skill, or a situation you want more of in the future. This card could be a practice, habit, or technique. It is something you can share with others.

If possible, select a lesson that you chose to learn.

Examples Include:

  • Learning to bbq
  • Learning how to shuffle a deck of cards
  • Learning the secret to managing a complex project

The Grow Card

The Grow card is green with a leaf in the middle. The rule for this card is: Share a memory where you grew as a person. Choose a memory or experience that made you better. Your memory should be personal to you. You feel better about yourself, you have added to your capability.

Examples Include:

  • Losing weight
  • Doing something that made you uncomfortable but you got through it.
  • Stepping up to a big project and handling it well

The Secret of the Cards

These memories were explicitly selected to map to the three domains of intrinsic motivation — the Love card is relatedness. The Learn card is autonomy, and the Grow card is mastery. Here’s a tip, when you choose to do things that make you stronger as a human being in service of people you care about, it can make your life feel… well meaningful. So when you look back over your year, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that you love, learn, and grow. And if those three things line up all the better.

The Intent

I intended for the game to bring our family together so we could share memories from the past year. I wanted everyone to feel encouraged and good about themselves. I was pleased with how everyone listened to each other and how diverse the interpretations of the cards were yet still fit the intention.


The game did not last long and was not intimidating, and everyone seemed excited to share their stories. Everyone felt heard. We played this game over dinner, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed it way more than plowing through a pile of journals. Give a spin, let me know what you think.