Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Back

The end of the calendar year is upon us. A lot of companies end the year by having employees complete an annual self-assessment. Now I've never had a corporate job, and have never had to complete this type of exercise with regards to my job. I've been told it usually entails looking back at accomplishments, describing areas that need improvement and goals for the coming year. I decided to try writing a year end review for my personal growth, to see where I've been successful and where I could improve. Then I can formulate some goals for 2011. Not resolutions, but concrete ideas of what I would like to work on next year.

I followed a pretty simple outline: 1. Did you set any goals for 2010? If so, were they met or worked on consistently? 2. What were your particular successes? 3. What areas could be improved? 4. Are there things you're allowing to limit your growth in some area? What is holding you back? I set aside some quiet time to reflect and journal on each of these questions. I was initially concerned that I would dwell on the negative and the failures. I was happily surprised to find this to be a positive exercise. I was able to recognize successes for which I wasn't giving myself credit. I was able to see progress toward goals even if they haven't been completely realized yet.

Then I started on my areas of improvement and attachments that are holding my back. I think in a work-related inventory, it can be tempting to list small things that are easily fixed rather than really being honest about our shortcomings. In a personal review, if you're not honest you're only lying to yourself. So, I really looked at myself. Not easy, but I took a compassionate stance and was able to avoid beating myself up too much. I found this to be really helpful because I can recognize some areas of my life where I'm stuck. Seeing where growth can occur allows us to foster these areas and make progress. Being compassionate kept me from ending every sentence with "you big dummy" or something similar. This is about moving forward, not dwelling on the past, after all!

Finally, I looked at goals for next year. I have a few that I recognize cannot be accomplished in one year, but I can start to work toward them. I also have some that will require a consistent commitment, something I'm not always good at. Now I can recognize things that could potentially hold me back, and create a clear vision to focus on my goals. I hope this clarity of purpose will help me stay motivated throughout the year, rather than losing interest in a few months, as usually happens with simple resolutions. I will be starting the new year pointed in the right direction, with the tools to help me stay on course.

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