At year-end, it’s fun and helpful to look back on the previous year – fun because you usually accomplish a lot more than the busyness of the year allows you to celebrate; and helpful because you can build on your recent success.
How was your year? Are there any insights that can be helpful for next year? Here are five career reflections to help you end this year strong and get a running start on next year:
1 – Are you keeping track of your results
Writing is an activity I prioritize so it makes sense that I track my progress there – e.g., number of posts, traffic per post. In what areas are you keeping track? Revenue generated, costs saved, and time saved are all obvious business metrics to track. If you’re in transition, you might want to review your networking results – number of meetings, outcomes generated. If you’re aiming for a promotion, you might want to look at people and projects outside of your immediate area to estimate your impact across the company.
2 – Are you spending time on what works
My lopsided writing results –fewer than 10% of posts accounting for 42% of traffic – is a more extreme version but still mimics the 80/20 rule that 80% of results stem from 20% of the causes. Do you know what that critical 20% is for your career results? If you’re aiming for a promotion, do you know the key clients that account for the bulk of your sales or the key projects that create the most impact? Based on your results from last year, think about how to steer your efforts in the coming year to emphasize the most influential factors in your performance.
3 – Are you focusing on what matters
Comparing my more widely-read posts to the lower-trafficked ones gives me an idea of themes and formats that resonate the most with my readers. As you look at your results, do you see similar patterns? Let’s say that in your networking meetings, the most helpful outcomes came from contacts from your alma mater. You can then add more university events to your upcoming calendar. You can also try and identify what’s working in that area and translate this to other groups. Perhaps it’s the rapport that comes with the shared background you have with other alumni – this suggests you need to emphasize more of a shared history at other networking meetings where this is not so obvious (e.g., you have this industry interest in common, or you worked in similar cultures if not outright overlapping firms).
4 – Do you enjoy what you do
Now that I have a better idea of what resonates with readers, I can decide to write more about these topics, or I still might cover the other less-popular topics but try to improve them. Part of this decision will be based on what I like to write about – enjoyment for the work is important to me. It should also be important to you because it will sustain you through difficulties (you may not get your promotion at the time you expect) and bring you fulfillment irrespective of the direct result (each and every networking interaction doesn’t lead to a job, but networking overall provides camaraderie, inspiration, and social interaction). As you look back on your year, pay attention to activities that you especially enjoyed, even if you don’t see an immediate career boost. Plan to include these activities on a regular basis in the upcoming year so you don’t overlook them when things get busy and you give yourself something to look forward to on an ongoing basis.
5 – How can you continue the momentum into next year
As we look back to celebrate successes, we also want to build on these successes in the coming year. We know that tracking helps identify patterns and surprises. We can see which activities produce results, as well as what matters to our clients, colleagues and broader audience. We can fondly remember what we enjoyed and proactively put more of these activities into the new year. Most of all, take some time to savor all that you have accomplished, and let it give you confidence and inspiration to put yourself out there for next year.
And now let us welcome the New Year/ Full of things that have never been – Rainer Maria Rilke
A version of this post originally appears in my Forbes column.