How to Determine if You’re on the Right Path – Annual Review
Are you where you thought you’d be by January 2012? (I’m not.) Are you closer to reaching your goals? (I am, although I often feel like they are further away.) Do you feel like your goals are out of reach?
I feel like I made significant progress in 2011… but at the same time I still feel so far from where I dreamed - and hoped – I would be by this point in my life. Do you know that feeling?
I’ve been really pushing myself over the past three years. Trying to force myself outside of my comfort zone. Trying to go the extra mile. Trying to escape The Dip. Trying to please everyone. Trying not to fail. Trying to succeed. Trying to keep a positive outlook. Trying not to give up. Trying to stay outside my comfort zone. Trying, Trying, Trying…. I’m getting tired just thinking about all the trying.
There’s no doubt that all the “trying” is paying off, but that doesn’t make it any less tiring. Our business revenues grew by over 300% during the past 12 months. We built over 20 new websites during 2011. Launched over a dozen marketing campaigns. Our website and blog traffic are both at all-time highs. And we’ve picked up new clients from around the world.
It’s not as far as I thought I/we would be. I know, I know, that makes me seem really ungrateful for all the successes I had during 2011, but I promise… I really am grateful. But, at the same time I long for more! I often question if I’m on the right path.
It’s the uncertainty of the path that bothers me. I can handle failure (okay, I still whine and complain about it, but I can handle it). I can handle long hours. I can handle being tired. I can handle being uncomfortable.
I can’t handle uncertainty.
I don’t want all my “trying” to be in vain. No one wants to get to the end of their path only to discover it’s not the destination they had hoped for. That is one failure I don’t want to have to face.
Midway through 2009, my uncertainty and fear were at an all-time high. I wanted to pour my heart into Ugly Mug Marketing, but I wasn’t sure it was part of the “right path.” While I was working I was doubting whether it was part of the path. And when not working I was wondering if I should be. It was a vicious cycle.
It’s this uncertainty and fear of being on the “wrong path” that caused me to look for ways to minimize the risk and fear, and hopefully determine if I was on the right path. I stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau’s post about how to conduct your own personal review. The simplicity of what he outlined caused me to be skeptical about the results, but I didn’t have much to lose, so I started working through the process.
Despite the fact that I didn’t take the process very seriously that first year, that first annual review helped me gain clarity and significantly reduce my fear. Now each December I spend several days reflecting on the past year and asking myself a few challenging questions. These questions really help me gain clarity about where I’ve been, and they help me determine if I’m still on the right path. Here are the questions I start with:
What went well during the past year?
What went wrong during the past year?
What did I achieve during the past year?
Am I happy and satisfied with my achievements?
What prevented me from achieving more?
What three things do I wish I had done during the past year?
What is one thing I wish I had stopped doing during the past year?
What skills did I improve or expand on last year?
Is my life in balance? If not, what can I do to immediately bring more balance?
Did I get out of my comfort zone on a regular basis?
What two things did I learn that I can apply this coming year?
Avoid the Temptation
Don’t do it. I know that you answered most of those questions as you read them, and you may be thinking, ”I’ve done my part,” but trust me, that isn’t enough. You need to schedule time to physically write out your answers – nope, not type. The process of writing helps your brain interpret and process your answers differently than typing.
Schedule time now… your future depends on it!
How do you stay on the path toward success? Have any tips or techniques? If so, please share them in the comments below.