If you work in the corporate world you will be familiar with the annual review process. This is the method that companies use to analyse their performance for the year and determine what worked well and what didn’t. They apply this knowledge when mapping out strategies for the following year.
Not surprisingly, this tactic works not just for organisations, but for individuals too. We all have goals and aspirations but we often tend to drift and miss the mark. By documenting our thoughts and processes and holding ourselves accountable, it is amazing how quickly these goals become reality.
Warren Buffet, the legendary founder of the American multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, produces a detailed annual report to help guide his next year, and bestselling author Chris Guillebeau has also credited this habit as one of the major contributing factors to his success, “Since I’ve been following this practice, it’s been the single most important ritual in ensuring I achieve multiple meaningful and challenging goals.”
What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What’s next?
Chris Guillebeau outlines some of his steps for doing an annual review:
1 In a document, spreadsheet or journal, make a list of 6-8 things that went well this year and things that didn’t
2 Exclude factors over which you had no control
3 Remind yourself of your goals for this last year and write down whether you achieved them or not.
NEXT: Categorise your roadmap goals for the new year. Note that this is completely different from New Year’s Resolutions (that often get broken weeks or days after they are made). Your roadmap goals must be measurable and achievable. Here are some categories you could use for your personal annual review document: • Work • Friends and Family • Health • Spiritual • Travel • Learning • Financial (Earning) • Financial (Giving) • Financial (Saving)
Once you have written down the detailed targets for these categories they constitute your vision. Record them in a table and specifically define what success looks like to you for each of these headings. Your next column will read ‘Actions required to achieve each goal’. This might include: ‘Save $2 a day towards your end of year vacation trip’, or ‘To run a marathon I must run 3km a time, 3 days a week’ or ‘To learn a new language or instrument I must practise for 15 minutes daily’.
How to stay on track
1 Briefly review your document every month
2 Set aside longer time periods to review it quarterly
3 At the end of the year set aside a few days and some quiet time to go over it contemplatively and to create the plan for the following year.
An increasing number of lifestyle design gurus insist that you can create the life you want. Strategic reflection and goal setting is the way to bring about such change. Doing an annual review and setting a road map for the following year does not confine you to a rigid plan. It liberates you by helping shape your focus and channel your energies to make each step become a reality. By dedicating a few days or hours at the end of a given year for this detailed introspection, you will be able to step outside your busy life, zoom out and then write your script for the upcoming year. Try it this month – you will thank yourself in a year’s time.
Another benefit of the annual review process is the positive effect on our outlook – when we write down what actually happened, we realise the sheer number of positive experiences we have had. We feel more grateful, happier and more in control.