Think of an annual review as your after action report for the past year.
decided intended to write my own annual review the last week of December.
It was suppose to work like this:
- Find myself a quiet room free of distractions.
- Take a day to reflect on the hits & misses of 2015.
- Write an awesome article and post it to Social Worker Success blog.
That did not happen.
What happened instead?
My entire month of December looked more like this:
- A never ending bout of bronchitis
- Over-commitment to too many projects
- A borderline depressive episode during the holidays
Can you relate?
Fortunately I’ve used the first couple of weeks of January to recover from my year end tumble.
Here is what helped:
- Three rounds of antibiotics, rest, and hydration knocked out the bronchitis.
- A return to healthy routines and habits pulled me out of the winter blues.
- Setting boundaries started reigning in the over-commitments.
In today’s post I’m going to share some highlights and lowlights from my 2015 annual review, and show you how you write your own.
Annual Review 2015
Started Social Worker Success. After taking several months to research the who, what, and how of starting a website and blog, I finally pulled the trigger and launched Social Worker Success in October. Clearly it is a work in progress, but I look forward to adding a lot more value to social worker’s lives through it in 2016.
Experienced a primary loss. It still boggles my mind and heart when I experience the death of a family member or friend. My stepfather Frank passed away in late October. The secret to a long life, apparently, is working a crossword puzzle every morning, smoking Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco from a pipe, and enjoying a toddy or two in the afternoon.
Lost 25 pounds. One of the biggest changes I made health wise was aiming to eat 20 grams of protein at every meal. Reading Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Body significantly influenced the changes to my diet.
Read 12 books. The number of books I read does not correlate to the number of times I visited the public library last year. I finished ten nonfiction and two fiction books. A much larger number of books were started but never finished. I don’t count the small mountain children’s books I read to my daughter. I haven’t figured out a good way to track how much reading I do of online material, but if printed on paper it would be considerable.
Started too many projects. At some point in my year I looked up and asked myself, “How in the heck did you get involved with so many projects at the same time?” With most of the projects I worked on I had far more interest than available time. Next year I intend to practice this: if it’s not a ‘heck yeah’, then it’s a ‘no’.
Presented at two conferences. Two major presentations standout in 2015: Jacksonville State University’s Social Work Month and Birmingham VA Medical Center’s Social Work Symposium. This year I’m presenting at the 2016 NASW-Alabama Annual Conference. Come check it out :).
Created a daily mindfulness practice. Mindful awareness is one of the best self care habits social workers (or anyone for that matter) can incorporate into their lives.The majority of my practice in a small window of time before the work days starts.You can read more about mindful awareness practice here.
Reconnected with old friends. 2015 was sprinkled with reunions. In February I spent the weekend with two of my childhood friends and their wives. Over Thanksgiving weekend, another old friend, Kipp and his family, who I had not seen in three years came for visit.
Increased quality family time. I switched to a 4 day/10 hour schedule at my day job. Going to a flex schedule allowed for a lot more quality time with my wife and daughter. Historically we’ve taken a few shorter vacations during the year. In 2015 we took a week long beach trip with just the three of us. Having the extended and uninterrupted time was an eye-opener. . . we definitely intend to make this an annual ritual. We also made epic Halloween costumes:
Experienced too many mood dips. All things considered my health has been remarkably good. My wife and therapist may disagree, citing my mid-summer and winter mood meltdowns. Like a good social worker, I’ve worked not to catastrophize either episode and learned from both.
How to write your own annual review
You can have a much better annual review experience if you approach your review with a plan.
Here are few tips:
- Find some headspace. Rent a cabin in the woods if you have to, but find some solitary time to reflect.
- Review all of your 2015 calendars week by week. For me it is my Outlook calendar at work and my personal Google calendar.
- Review all of your pictures from the past year. Include anything on your phone, posted to Facebook or Instagram.
You are primarily trying to answer two questions in your annual review:
What went right last year?
What went wrong last year?
Answering these questions is an easy way to begin the process of being intentional about your choices in the forthcoming year.
2016 has arrived and life is good. It’s good to be alive . . . and an Alabama fan (roll tide).
Inspiration for this article came from other bloggers I follow. Check out examples of their annual reviews here: