Give Yourself a Year-End Career Review With These 4 Questions

BY ERIN EWART

As we approach the end of the year it’s a natural time for reflection and in many organizations, it’s also time for end of year performance reviews.

Whether or not your organization has an official review process this time of year, you can give yourself a year-end review!

To build a meaningful and fulfilling career, it’s important to regularly take stock of your career satisfaction, update your goals, and keep track of what you’ve accomplished.

Use the four questions below to review your year, assess what’s working well, and think about what you want to shift in the year ahead. 

Four Questions To Answer For Your Year-End Career Review

  1. IMPACT & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

What were my proudest accomplishments?

Think about your personal and professional highlights from the last year. When did you feel you were at your best and making an impact? When did you feel energized and excited about the work you were doing? What skills were you using at those times?

As you think through these experiences, you should see some trends emerge, both around the work that you most enjoy doing and the core skills and strengths that you come back to using again and again, regardless of the situation.

Once you’ve generated the list, take some time to quantify your accomplishments and impact (did you help save time, generate revenue, maximize efficiency, reach more people, help achieve a larger organizational goal?) and record them with as many details as you can using the STAR framework in a document that you can update and add to over time.

It will be affirming to see the measurable outcomes of your work, and your future self will thank you when it’s time to do that performance review, update your resume, or prepare for an interview, and you have all the details of your biggest wins ready to go.

  1. LEARNING & RISK TAKING

When did I try something new, and what did I learn?

Another way to frame this: when did I take a risk or make a mistake? If you’re not pushing yourself and experiencing some missteps along the way, you’re not growing.

While it can be uncomfortable, experimenting and taking calculated risks is important both for your career success, and to build a fulfilling and meaningful life.

If you find yourself reflecting on things that didn’t work out as you hoped, focus on what you learned, and what you could (or did) do differently the next time. This is powerful learning that will fuel your growth. 

  1. PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

What do I want to do more and less of in the coming year?

Building from the questions above, what shifts do you want to make in how you are focusing your time and energy in the future? How can you use your core strengths more in your work, and what skills do you want to learn, develop, or use more often?

Once you’ve identified areas to prioritize, do some brainstorming on steps you can take to actualize these ideas.

These might be new opportunities to use or develop your strengths, like taking a course, joining a new group or committee, taking on new projects, volunteering, or even pursuing a new role. You can also focus on minimizing activities that are draining to you, like delegating or saying no to work or projects you no longer enjoy.

And remember that your development goals don’t need to be exclusively work related! Challenging yourself to achieve a personal goal like a training for a race, learning a language, or working on a cause you believe in will help you build valuable skills, while making you more well-rounded, satisfied, and confident. These kinds of activities will also expose you to new people and networks, which is an important part of your long-term career success (see #4 below).

  1. PEOPLE & RELATIONSHIPS

Who are the most important people in my network, and how effectively am I building and maintaining relationships?

Last but certainly not least on this list are your relationships. The advice to “build your network before you need it” is more true than ever today, when career success is so tied to networking and referrals.

Start by creating a list of the top 15-20 people in your network – the people who are your biggest supporters, champions, or mentors. Have you been in touch with them in the last 6 months? If not, now’s a great time to reach out to share an update and ask how you can be of help to them in the new year.

In addition to keeping in touch with your existing network, you should also consistently be making new connections to expand and diversify your network.

If you haven’t made as many quality connections as you’d like this year, identify some specific ways you can do this next year. For example: take a colleague or contact to lunch or coffee once a month, be active in a professional association, join affinity groups within your organization, or connect with groups outside of work that allow you to pursue your interests while meeting new people.

 

I’d love to hear what insights you have after thinking through these questions, and what ideas you’re excited to pursue in the new year!

When you’re ready, check out part two of this post, where I share some specific next steps you can take to solidify your goals and build them into your plans for the new year. Until then, happy holidays!

Would you like support with your career in the new year? Check out our coaching programs for social impact professionals and contact us to learn more or get started.

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