For the past six years I’ve made a practice of taking some time at the end of the year to look back at my accomplishments and challenges, and to make plans and set goals for the coming year. It isn’t really about New Year’s Resolutions, so much as prioritizing on steroids. My friend R. Paul Herman (founder at HIP Investor) shared a framework I liked - looking at your life in 6 dimensions: health, family and friends, purpose (career essentially), balance of life, love and financial stability. He also suggests setting an overarching theme for the year.
Over the years I’ve also found some other great resources – Alex Vermeer’s 8760 (the number of hours there are in a year), which is a lot like Paul’s process, but with more mind-mapping. There’s also Chris Guillebeau’s How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review, and Cal Newport and his writing on Deep Work.
The whole process can be really engaging if you’re into this sort of thing, and have the time an inclination to think this way. My general observation is that people like thinking bout themselves, and I’ve often wondered how, given this, we’ve managed to take the annual review process at work – generally a whole work-based system for thinking about yourself and what you’re doing – and turn it into something almost universally despised.
Along these same lines, I was recently asked to lead a World Café table on personal brand, and it was a good exercise in thinking through what I actually believe personal branding to be. Far from self-promotion, my experience of personal branding is about self-discovery, with a goal of personal and professional growth – basically announcing your goals and what you see as the best aspects of yourself with an eye towards getting better.
And if you are reading this, you are probably aware that I have now launched my personal website. I had played with the idea of doing so during a few past annual planning sessions, but was motivated to do so this year with the specific goal of generating more public speaking opportunities. I have been broadening my work beyond Playworks with Substantial , and I’m exploring a new for-profit effort that will be focused on organizational design and development for corporations and looking for a chance to join a for-profit board of directors – all if which seemed to add up to a good reason to launch.
My annual plan also calls for a monthly blog, so you can track my progress against these other goals here. Thanks for visiting and helping to hold me accountable – I hope you’ll check back in. And if you end up creating a plan for yourself along these lines – or if you figure out how to make annual planning at work more enjoyable – please let me know!
People need meaning, the opportunity for mastery, and community to thrive. Creating opportunities for people to contribute, and to find their best selves is some of the most important work we can do.