It’s that time of year again when all the advice that is out there encourages us as individuals and businesses to review how our year went. For all those incredibly efficient people who produce detailed plans full of objectives and goals this is an easy exercise in seeing how far they got. For everyone else it can be a less objective task but one that still brings about many benefits.
Whether your planning was ultra-detailed, on a single piece of paper (my personal favourite) or simply in your head, taking time to review outcomes at the end of a period of time (doesn’t have to be an annual event) makes sense to most people – even if they don’t do it!
For an individual, holding a short-term plan in their head is absolutely fine, after all, it’s only themselves they are accountable to and in their heart of hearts they know whether or not they are meeting their goals. For projects, groups and businesses the planning needs to become gradually more formalized (or at least written down for all to see) the longer the time-scale and the more complex the work becomes.
What needs reviewing?
If you created some SMART objectives then these are what you will be looking at. Even if your targets were based on rough estimates or even guesses they were what you were striving to achieve. Perhaps your goals for the year (or any other period) were less objective or just harder to quantify. Even then, you ought to be able to answer the question ‘did we meet objective 3?’ or ‘to what extent did we meet objective 3?’.
Did you respond to opportunities?
Whether it’s your own individual and very personal goals, formalized project objectives or business operations you are considering there will have been aspects that came to light that you hadn’t considered. Now they could be considered as risks, distractions or completely irrelevant but did you actually consider them as an opportunity to adjust your goals, project or business activities at all? Think back to significant events and judge how you reacted. These uncertainties need to be considered, perhaps only momentarily to see whether they support your chosen path or whether it’s worth changing tack. Think back – providing you considered the opportunities on offer then that is what matters as it’s far too easy to ignore what doesn’t match our predefined idea of what the future holds.
What’s your gut feeling?
Reviewing progress can be a very logical, objective exercise and almost a tick-box exercise to some. The danger is that after all the boxes have been ticked and a judgment is made on how successful the year (insert your own time period or project here) has been there can always be that nagging feeling that something is missing or something isn’t right. Think of all the goals/objectives/tasks together and determine for yourself whether it’s a success or not and just how successful (or not) it’s been. Your own gut feeling will give you the true answer and this may or may not match your ‘score sheet’.
Whatever the outcome of your review, and hopefully it’s a mixture of what was planned and your end of year gut feeling, you will have a much better idea of what’s needed for the next year.