9 Ways an Annual Self Review Can Boost Your Career

There are formal performance reviews, and informal performance reviews. There are also self-reviews, and many of us don't take the time to sit down and do one.

It's crucial to spend some quality time reviewing the last 12 months of your time on the job. You should evaluate your own goals and accomplishments at work just as your boss would. This will give you a chance to be honest with yourself in a way you can't be with your boss, and use that to really hit a home run when the official review comes around. Here's how you can get started.

1. Recognize all that you've accomplished in the last year

Start your annual review by poring over everything you have worked on during the last 12 months. Hopefully, you have a way to keep track of all your projects, whether it's computer files, physical files and folders, or photographs and documentation of your work. Begin in January and really take the time to go through each month carefully.

This list will become the foundation for any kind of raise or promotion you're looking to get, and it is also a great way to boost your self-esteem and start the review on a high note. Look at everything you did. You rocked it.

2. Identify the goals you did not meet

Moving on from that list of accomplishments, you should now be able to compare it to the goals you set for yourself last year. If you didn't actively do that, take some time to write down everything you had hoped to achieve over the year.

Now, what did you miss? What did you do, but not as well as you'd have liked? What was a priority at the start of the year, but got thrown onto the back-burner? What was simply forgotten in the chaos? Highlight these unmet goals and add them to the top of the list of goals you want to set for the coming year. Which leads nicely into the next point.

3. Establish new goals for the coming year

You've identified what you achieved, and what you didn't get around to in the previous year. Now, it's time to make a list of new goals. How has the company changed and grown over the past year? Has it created new opportunities for you? Is there more money to play with? Do you have a larger team working under you, or with you? Has there been a significant change in management, or even a merger? Has the economy or current events created issues or challenges that need to be addressed?

Although you don't have a crystal ball, you can make some good predictions based on your own experiences and those of your colleagues. Set new goals for yourself, and don't be afraid to aim high on a few of them. (See also: 6 Steps to Achieving All Your Goals)

4. Get a good grasp of your strengths and weaknesses

There are two sides to every appraisal, just like there are two sides to every story. As you look at the accomplishments you have made over the year, and some of the tasks you didn't get around to completing, you should start to see a pattern. You'll be able to identify your greatest strengths based on the successes you had. You'll also be able to spot your weaknesses from the projects or initiatives that were not quite as successful.

What were the commonalities in each case? Are you highly organized with superb attention to detail? Great. However, did this lead to being so focused on some tasks that others did not get the attention they deserved? Feel free to reach out to coworkers and friends and ask them to give it to you straight. Then, put a plan together to build on those strengths while building up your weaknesses.

5. Discover what you've learned since your last review

You've come a long way, baby. That's something you'll hear a lot when you're first starting out in your career, and rightly so. When you first enter the workplace you're very green and have a lot to learn. Within a year, you'll have developed a dizzying array of new skills. As technology changes, and industries evolve, so too will your abilities. Look at where you were this time last year, and think about what you know now that you didn't back then. It can be quite an eye opener.

6. Figure out which skills you want to develop

It's important to take a long, hard look at your current skill set to see what is missing and what needs to be developed. Are you right where you need to be for your particular position in the company? Are you seeing a lack of skills that are increasingly in demand, while having other skills that are slowly being phased out? There is no time like the present to act on this. If you're lucky, your employer will pay for classes that directly benefit the company, so talk to your human resources department. You may also be able to get grants or attend free classes in your area.

7. See yourself from the boss's perspective

This one is tough. You know yourself, but do you really know what the boss thinks of you? Look back and analyze the past year. What were your interactions with the boss like? Did you find yourself going to him or her with a lot of problems, but few solutions? Are you a bit of a chatterbox, or do you sneak in late and escape a little early? Are you a team player? Do you go above and beyond? Are you cynical, or known to be a naysayer? This kind of self-analysis isn't easy, but the self reflection can help you identify areas you need to work on. (See also: 10 Things to Bring Up With Your Boss at Your Annual Review)

8. Be one step ahead of the game

When you give yourself an annual review, you are setting yourself up for success when it's time for the boss to do your official appraisal. You'll already have answers to some of the most common questions, like, "What have you achieved over the past year?" or, "What skills do you want to work on?" You've done the thinking. You've gone through the year, and you know all of your strengths and weaknesses. You will be so tightly prepared that you may well knock the socks off your supervisor with your level of professionalism.

9. Give yourself positive reinforcement

At the end of the day, we're all way too hard on ourselves. We inflate small problems to be way bigger than they really are. We focus on all the things we said wrong. We cringe at comments we made that got more than a few raised eyebrows in meetings. But when all is said and done, we're all just trying to make a living, do a good day's work, and provide for ourselves and our loved ones. So pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Be proud of the year you've had, and the challenges you overcame. You may only do this once a year, so make the most of it.

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9 Ways an Annual Self Review Can Boost Your Career

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