What I Learned By Giving Myself a Performance Review

This year, I took a different approach to my annual performance review. Instead of the usual evaluation of goals and accomplishments, I asked myself a single, powerful question: 

“What did I learn this year?” 

As my own “me-nager,” steering the ship of my personal and professional growth, I sought deeper insights from my experiences. The revelations that emerged from this self-reflection were transformative and eye-opening. It was no longer just about ticking off boxes or measuring outcomes, but about understanding the valuable lessons hidden within those experiences. In this introspection, I found not only a record of my achievements but a testament to my personal growth and the evolution of my perspectives.

Insight #1 – Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

I’ve been experimenting with what I call “little f failures” – the concept of trying new things without the fear of failing. As I mentioned in my previous post, I embraced a willingness to run the experiment, see the results, and use the information regardless of whether it led to success or not. For example, I tested consulting opportunities, and while some were successful, others were not. Instead of diving headfirst into coaching, I took a short course to test the waters. It turns out I loved it, and now I’m pursuing a year-long coaching certification. By adopting an experimental mindset, I’ve been able to approach life with more kindness towards myself and enjoy the journey, regardless of the outcome.

Insight #2 – Breaking Free from Unwritten Rules

Working in regulated industries often feels restrictive, but I realized that many of the “rules” governing our work are more like traditions. It’s taken me a year to grasp that I have the power to structure my work in a way that aligns with my desires and goals. While not all roles have this freedom, it’s essential to question whether you have more choices about your tasks and workflow than you initially believe.

Insight #3 – Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

I recently discovered that I love writing! After years of writing only emails and bullet points on slides, I realized that I genuinely enjoy the act of writing and the opportunities it provides for self-expression. The idea of writing a book came before the realization that I’d have to write it, but now I can’t get enough of it. Recognizing what brings you joy is a liberating and valuable part of any performance review.

The past year has been transformative for me, as I’ve been actively trying new things and making intentional choices. While the outcomes remain unknown, I’ve learned to embrace the process and steer my path in the direction of my dreams. It’s a thrilling yet nerve-wracking journey.

To manage the uncertainty, I’ve adopted a practice from my writing coach, Jen Louden. Fear often impedes creative writing, so I counteract it by taking deep breaths and visualizing a tiger. By confronting my primal fear (being eaten by a tiger) and realizing it’s not happening, I can reassure myself that I’m safe and ready to create.

What Have You Learned?

To set the stage for a fulfilling and exciting future, ask yourself, “What did I learn this past year?” Follow it up with, “What possibilities does that open up for the coming year?” Explore the answers, and you’ll likely discover new opportunities awaiting you. Share your insights in the comments below or reach out if you’d like to have a short conversation to explore new possibilities for the upcoming year.

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