Annual Self-Performance Review: Looking Back to Look Ahead

Annual Self-Performance ReviewAs another year draws to a close, take a moment to reflect on the highs, lows, and everything in between in an annual self-performance review. Follow the reflective exercise and journaling prompts below to look back and look ahead — to ensure you begin next year with a lot of intention.

Recapitulation Exercise

This first exercise should take you about 10 minutes to reflect on your year. Read through the instructions before getting started. The purpose of this reflection is to recall any and all highlights and lowlights from your year. Allow them to arise in a natural way — don’t force them. Pay attention to the memories that come and go so that you can use them in the journaling exercise that follows.

Once you read through the instructions, if it feels comfortable for you, find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes.

  • Start by just taking notice of where you are at the moment — scanning your body and mind for information. Notice how you feel physically and mentally, and then begin to observe your thoughts in a non-judgmental way as they come and go.
  • Now begin to re-play through the year you have just had in your mind, slowly, as if you were watching a movie reel of highs and lows from your year. These highlights and lowlights can be both big and small moments from your year. Notice what arises, without forcing what comes.
  • Start with New Year’s last year, and move through the year month by month, season by season, recalling people, moments, emotions, activities, details, mistakes, highlights, celebrations — all of it. Just play through these memories from the year little by little in your mind as they come to you and watch them like a recap of all that happened. Stay with each memory for a moment before moving onto the next.
  • When you reach the present moment, finish the movie reel of the year and notice how you feel.
  • Slowly transition your mind back into the present moment by bringing your awareness to your breath. Deep inhales and slow exhales. Take a moment before you open your eyes.

Re-connecting with your highs and lows from the year can help you identify what you want the next year to look and feel like.

Journaling Exercise: Identifying the Highlights and Lowlights

Now that you’ve taken a trip down memory lane, you can start your annual self-performance review by jotting down three highs and three lows from each quarter of the year. You can make a list or create a chart that looks something like this:

Annual Self-Performance Review Chart

Q1 to Q4 Highs and Lows Chart

Understanding the Highs and Lows

Take a look at your list of highs and lows, and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What was the single biggest challenge from the past year? In what ways did this experience, person, or situation challenge you? What would you have done differently, given the opportunity to repeat this experience? What did you learn from this experience, and what intention can you make for next year, with this lesson in mind?
  2. What was your favorite moment(s) from the last year? As you consider that memory, notice how your body felt, what your mind state was, what your energy felt like, and what feelings you are associating with this positive memory. What do you need to do to experience more feelings like these in your life? What is in your control? Who can help set you up for success?
  3. What are you most proud of this year? How can you cultivate more feelings of pride next year?
  4. Who were you closest to this year? Who do you wish to spend more time with next year?
  5. What are you most grateful for this year? What does that say about your priorities for next year?
  6. What was your biggest lesson learned this year? How can you apply it to next year?
  7. What do you regret this year? Given this, what needs to change?
  8. What do you wish you did more of this year? How can you make certain you spend time on it next year?
  9. What surprised you about the memories that popped into your mind during the recapitulation exercise? What meaning can you make of that?
  10. On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your year? If a 10, what do you most attribute that score to? If less than a 10, what is the single biggest thing you could have done that would have made it closer to a 10?

Learning from the past is a great starting point to intentionally design your future. When you tune into all you did and all that happened over the last 12 months, you can gain insight, perspective, and clues into how you truly want to spend your time in the future.

After all, time is the most expensive currency you have and the best tool for catalyzing positive change in your life. As James Clear said, “Your calendar is a better measure of success than your bank account.” Next year, make sure you’re spending your time wisely.

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Melissa Eisler

Melissa Eisler, MA, PCC, is an ICF certified executive coach. She partners with leaders to develop their systems thinking, resilience, strategic communication skills, and executive presence in order to reach individual, team, and organizational goals. She blends more than 15 years of experience in leadership positions in the corporate world, with her master’s degree in organizational leadership and extensive background in mindfulness to help her clients master their leadership skills and steer their teams through challenges and change. Learn more about Melissa here.

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Melissa is the founder and executive coach at Wide Lens Leadership and a Partner at Evolution. As an ICF Certified Executive Coach with a Master's degree in organizational leadership, Melissa has coached hundreds of leaders ranging from C-suite to entrepreneur, from Fortune 500 companies to startups, and across diverse industries. Her work focuses on helping high-performing senior leaders and their teams magnify impact by building trust, collaboration, accountability, and healthy communication skills.