Do you take time to reflect on your career? You may be forced to do so as part of your annual performance review, but you may agree that these are rarely insightful.
Here's the end of year review I do instead.
Why do this rather than rely on how we get evaluated at work? First of all, you get evaluated against criteria that have nothing to do with your values and what you care about. Sometimes they are not even related to your job. Second of all, our brains don’t like them. Research shows that when we feel that our status is threatened - something that often happens when we’re being told how to improve - we go into “fight or flight” mode. The reaction is exactly the same as when faced with a physical threat, e.g. a predator. This temporarily shuts down any creative processes going on in our brain, and we prepare to fight for survival. Not an optimal state of mind for learning and growth, don't you think?
You may be glad each year when the review time at work is over, but don’t close the year without doing your own version of it. There is a lot of insight to learn from in the last 12 months. Take a moment to acknowledge accomplishments that might otherwise go unnoticed. List out any lessons you learnt and don’t want to repeat.
As Margaret Wheatley said, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
The process I recommend is simple - all it takes is to answer those three questions.
Let's begin. In 2018:
1. What are you most proud of? Be honest and forget the criteria from performance reviews. This can be anything that brought you joy and satisfaction in 2018.
2. What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned from it?
3. What is the one thing you want to create time in your career for in 2019?
I hope that your reflections will help you start the New Year with good energy and intention. I'm about to go for a long walk and reflect on my answers.
Happy New Year everyone!