Just over two weeks ago, I’ve conducted my annual review and for me it was a great experience. In this post I want to go trough the things I did. By the way: it is still not to late to run your own. Even just executing one of the items on the list below is worth doing!

1. Review
This was one of the best things from the whole annual review. I started with positive things and wrote down a couple of them that really stood out for me last year. Then I used the calendar on my Mac to go trough the whole year by week and compiled a list of almost 50 things I really enjoyed and went well. Just this experience can help you direct your next year: just do more of the things on your positive list.

Next item on the review was making a list of things to improve. For me, this list was a bit shorter and also harder to make, but contained some key elements I could take with me towards the brainstorm and formulation pases.

Lessons: make more notes on things that really went well and write down stuff I want to improve more often during the year.

2. Brainstorm
This part has a great impact on your energy level. For me it helped to take breaks between subjects. For next year I’d probably want to split this part over multiple days.

I started with copying these questions into a document. On paper, I started with making a mindmap for the first subject. After this, I wrote down all the stuff I want to do in this area. This is not limited to this year and I’m planning on keeping this document up to date during the year so I have my input ready at the end of 2014. The mindmap worked great. It helps you to quickly get stuff out of your head and think of new areas to explore. The questions with each area also were a great asset, because you don’t have to think about the process and can just answer the questions. I found that thinking about those questions can be hard and all kinds of distractions pop up. I didn’t have anyone around most of the day and had this time blocked off, but still your mind is going to think about other, short term stuff that needs to be done as well.

This brainstorm used up most of my time, but I feel that the mindmaps and list of things I want to do at some point in time are going to be a great resource during the year and the upcoming months.

3. Formulate
Now this should be easy because you already have this big list of things, but it was actually harder than I thought. As of today, I still haven’t completed my complete set of goals. I have set up a separate document with one table and it contains the goal, deadline and a checkbox to mark the goal as completed. However, this is a first draft and I still need to flesh out some of the ideas into goals.

Conducting an annual review is great and I think anyone can benefit from it. There is a lot of room for improvement still in my approach: next time I’m going to block a bit more time to be able to complete the brainstorm and formulating my goals in a shorter timespan. Making a list of things that were good last year gives a lot of guidance and makes the review a very positive experience.

I have two things left to be done: finish up my goals (I have a rough idea of them now, but I want to add more detail and dates to them. Second thing left is scheduling review moments during the next year. I’m going to start with monthly reviews, to keep myself focussed on my 2014 goals.

Don’t mention this often, but if you have any questions or suggestions to my posts: feel free to drop me a line at @rickpastoor. Hope you set some audacious goals for yourself this year!