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Personal Annual Review
The term "annual review" doesn't usually cause a feeling of excitement for anyone who comes across it. Yes, there might be a pay raise of some sort involved with such a process, but often it might be a discussion about standards that were imposed rather than agreed to, and may often not really have much to do with what you consider important regarding what you do at work or how you do it. But a personal annual review comes with none of that baggage. It's all about subjects that matter to you, that directly impact your life and performance, and inevitably leads to a better year to come.
What is a Personal Annual Review?
This is usually going to be a significant time investment on your part - not just in the preparation - but in the execution. You're going to look back on the last year, across metrics that matter to you, and note what has occurred, what you think about it, and whether that needs to change going forward.
For example, you might decide that "physical health" is a metric that matters to you. So you would look back on your diet for the year - have you been happy with what you've been eating and how you've been eating? How about your medical checkups? Anything of concern there? Has exercise been a constant? Why or why not? Be honest with yourself: there's no reason to hide.
It's also a time to celebrate. You completed a Spartan Race or a marathon? You've gotten your best blood pressure or cholesterol readings ever? Revisit your satisfaction with your achievements.
Examples of metrics to measure: family relationships, friends, career/work, financial goals, living situation, hobbies and personal time.
Why Do One?
Often authors share that the very process of writing a book is life changing for them, even more so than the actual book they produce at the end of the process. This is because of the reflection and organization that has to happen in the process of writing. By taking the time to reflect on your year and what matters to you, you'll inevitably run across insights as you see patterns cut across various metrics. Perhaps an illness in your family caused your performance to decrease across a number of areas. That's understandable and isn't really something you could have prevented. On the other hand, perhaps you got lazy at the gym and this inevitably led to poorer eating habits and perhaps poor interpersonal relationships with some friends who tried to keep you accountable.
It is said that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. This is no less true in our personal life. Doing it at the end of a calendar year also gives us steam and momentum to set course for the next year.
Phone a Friend
An annual personal review is best done with a friend. Not only does it mean you have to verbalize your thoughts to another human being, but you can also get some perspective from another person. This could be someone who knows you very well, or just someone who you trust. This person will also be sharing his review with you, so it's a chance to make sure you complete the review rather than put it off into the indefinite future...then before you know it, the new year has hit already.
Set aside at least a half a day if you are going to do the review by yourself and a full day if you're going to do it with a friend. Powerful insights will be gained as you look back at what you've done (and failed to do) in the last year and give you fuel and motivation to do better in the year to come.
Are you in the habit of personal annual reviews or have you ever done one? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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