This is the perfect time of year to sit down and look back over the previous 12 months and do an end of year review.
It is so important to regularly review your progress towards your goals, and your experience more generally. A retrospective analysis in this way gives you valuable perspective and insights, and can help reframe the way you view success. It helps you develop greater awareness, and this in turn helps you become more self-directed.
Regular reviews should be a necessary part of any personal or business development strategy, and should happen at least every 3 months. Even if you only spend a few minutes answering the question ‘what have I learned?’ you’ll be in a stronger position than if you don’t.
*Some of the questions below should be answered every quarter, others may only be necessary every year. I’ve included them all.
So create a quiet space where you will be uninterrupted for at least an hour (half a day if possible – the longer you spend the greater the benefit), and have a think about the following:
- Review your 3 year, 1 year, and quarter goals. (My written goals are on the stickies application on my desktop (couldn’t be simpler), and I use Google spreadsheets for my data, including KPIs and other behavioural markers), and answer the following questions:
- What have you achieved?
- What did you intend to achieve but have not, and why not?
- What have you learned?
- What do you need to change? (Draw a 4 square grid and fill in: start / more / stop / less)
- What’s missing? (a deliberately ambiguous question that provides space for more open reflection)
- What are your top 3 priorities for the next quarter?
Every 12 months I find it helps to also consider more searching questions:
- Are you still heading in the direction you want? (if not, what changes do you need to make?)
- Of the goals you achieved, what 20% of your activities generated 80% of your results?
- What are you most proud of, and why?
- What are you grateful for?
- What have been your biggest challenges, and what you learned from them?
- What systems or processes need to be improved / changed / developed?
- What skills do you want to learn or develop?
- How else can you improve?
Reviewing your progress at work can be relatively easy as it lends itself well to measurement. What is less objective is reviewing some of the more important things in life, such as your relationships, your heath, and how you spend your time. This deserves some attention:
- List the 10 things that you feel are the most important aspects in your life. You may wish to include your friends, relationships, partner, spouse, children, family, social life, fun, enjoyment, creativity, your passion, physical health, exercise, sport, mental health, mindfulness, intellectual stimulation, reading, music, helping people, charity, your impact, meaning, purpose, holidays, travel, your home, your free time, financial security, learning, skill development…
- For each of your 10 most important elements, write down what the ideal situation would be. What would need to be happening for you to score yourself 10/10?
- Then, give yourself a score out of 10 for each of your 10 aspects, based on your current or recent experience.
- Reflect on the scores you’ve given yourself.
- Make a plan to improve your most important score(s). Only choose one or two initially. Be specific – what will you now change to improve your experience? What will you do differently?
Reviews vs goal setting
The questions above may help point you towards some priorities and some things you wish to change. This is if course a valuable exercise, but this is not the same as a goal setting.
Here, you’ve reviewed your experience by looking backwards. To explore your goals, it’s usually better instead to look forward, to think long-term, and think big – and then work back.
We’ll explore the best ways to do this in January, after a bit of perspective and a well earned break!
Until then, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
If you have any questions about the above, please let me know.
For more tips, check out The Brain Book. It’s packed full of techniques to help you get more from your brain every day.