As we come to the end of another year, people take the time to reflect on the happenings of the past twelve months. For the 2020 Year In Review, however, that typical exercise may feel like anything but normal—I know it wasn’t for me.
At the end of 2019, I had grand plans for this year. I was going to tackle so many professional and personal projects. I was going to continue riding the wave of success that the end of last year had. Now that I find myself at the end of 2020, I’ve done next to none of it—and that’s perfectly ok. The truth is, I’ve been able to accomplish much more than what I originally intended, even if it’s nothing that I had planned at the start of the year.
Given the unusually difficult year that 2020 has been for most people, I wanted to create a tool that would help folks relax, focus, and recognize what they were able to achieve this year. Even if it’s nothing that they had planned.
I wanted the tool to consist of three parts:
- Guided Breathing Exercises—to help reduce stress, increase relaxation, and promote focus
- Reflecting on intended plans and goals for the year
- Reflecting on the progress and achievements for the year
The goal of the design is to help individuals recognize and celebrate their achievements during one of the most challenging years in recent history.
Inspiration for the graphic design came from my experience of getting back to the simple pleasures during the global pandemic. I wanted layouts that are simple, with a calm nature theme throughout—enjoying nature has been one of my most simple pleasures this year.
The inspiration for the guided breathing exercises came from the Calm app, my favorite meditation app.
The idea to create a breathing exercise tool using Storyline came to me before Christmas, as a way to help users completing their 2020 Year In Review to deal with the typical holiday stress and the added stress of the ongoing pandemic. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on instructions or presenting information about how or why the exercises work—I want the user to be able to jump right into doing and experiencing it for themselves.
With that in mind, I chose to make both the instructions and supporting information about the exercises completely optional and discoverable.
Users have the option of three exercises—they must select one before the tool allows them to start. I also include a series of optional nature sounds as an enhancement to the user experience.
Once an exercise starts, the user has the option to reset and make new selections or return home to the menu of the three included exercises.
No Year In Review tool would be complete without reflection exercises. I wanted to create a series of reflection exercises that would recognize and honor the plans and goals that folks started with—while also giving space to recognize what didn’t go to plan and celebrate what we were able to accomplish, despite the challenges faced.
The first exercise asks the user to reflect on what they wanted to accomplish this year, in the form of their aspirations and goals.
In the second exercise, I ask the user to reflect on what they actually did and what they are most grateful for. This reflection point encourages the user to celebrate their victories and the simple pleasures that made this year more bearable.
I wrap up the design by showing users a comparison of their responses from both reflection exercises—further driving the message that although things may not have gone to plan, there is (hopefully) a good bit that can still be recognized and celebrated.
Year-end reflections are a common practice for many people. But after the kind of year that 2020 has been, I thought that it might be more challenging or disheartening.
The hope is that the combination of the breathing exercises with these two reflections will allow users to be candid and allow themselves the grace that we all deserve, this year.