I’m a hugely competitive person, as my siblings can both attest to.
I still remember about 10 years back around this time of year, we were all gathered in the kitchen in my parents’ house. Huddled on the floor my brother and I were digging through my mom’s file cabinet looking for our ITED (yeah the standardized tests you had to take in grade school) results.
I’m still not quite sure how the whole argument got instigated, thought it was probably from a dumbass remark by myself about being smarter than my brother.
Regardless, that sent us down a rabbit hole which involved pulling out every possible metric we could find trying to one-up each other. “Hey, I’m 1 point higher on math in 5th grade.” As if that’s even a true judge of one’s intelligence.
I’ve moved on from having to compare myself to my siblings, but too often I find myself comparing myself against others at the office.
And then I (hopefully) come to my senses and dismiss all of that.
Refocus your aim when you feel the need for comparisons
I’ve realized that there’s only one person that I’m really competing with anymore.
And I often come up short in some places, but far exceed my wildest desires in other areas. It’s only from truly knowing where I want to go that I’ve found the success I’ve been looking for professionally.
Honestly though, I’m not always happy with my accomplishments.
I judge myself too harshly, I am impatient, and I don’t often take time to celebrate those wins I have accomplished.
As an attempt to correct this self-cynicism, I started doing an annual review each year.
What the hell is an annual review?
I can’t remember where exactly I first came across this idea, but it was likely from someone who had heard about it from Chris Gillebeau.
His story is a unique one involving a multi-year trek which took him to all 193 countries. I’ve read a few of his business books, bought many of his unconventional guides, and even planned to (but never made it) go to his World Domination Summit.
For me the annual review is a two-part process, one retrospective and one prospective.
You can’t understand where you’re headed without first looking at the past. So I start with analyzing what I’ve accomplished the previous year based upon those categories important to me. My categories range from professional accomplishments to travel.
So how did this last year stack up?
I made some real progress this year, but aside from bore you with all of the nitty gritty let’s look at the 40,000 foot view.
For me, I pick the top 3-5 areas of my life where I want to focus on for the next year. This always includes a mixture of personal and professional places I want to work on.
All of these are based upon a 10.0 scale, and knowing myself, I judge pretty harsh.
Relationships – 9.0
My sister started being a travel nurse about a year and half ago, she’s not the first to spend an extended time abroad but she is the first to do so with a goal of finding her future home. We lost touch of each other for a while, but this year I put a focus on strengthening our bond.
This included a week in San Diego having fun with hear early last year, and frequent long-winded calls to touch base.
Aside from that, I believe that I strengthened many of my bonds with my coworkers. Starting last year, I began purchasing small tokens of my friendship with others through giving away books with a small statement written in the front targeted to each of my close friends at the office (this year’s selection can be found at the top of this post). They received this year’s installment this morning.
In addition, I took a couple of long, alcohol-fueled weekend trips with some of my closer coworkers.
I also decided to start dating again and found myself with a special lady ringing in the new year eating grapes and sipping champagne on the beaches of Cancun.
It was a good year relationship wise, and I hope to continue this growth through 2016.
Health – 6.0
I started last year at the heaviest I had ever been. A life of deep-fried, cheese covered bar snacks had packed a few extra layers over my stomach.
My small bits of running came from trying to get to the next leg of my flight on a work trip.
I made some real progress this year in stopping that. It started with a strict diet to begin the year, resulting in shedding nearly 30 pounds.
Then I bought a treadmill, began some morning walking… which eventually turned to jogging. My brother and I decided to hit the gym several days a week after work, and I was finally making some real progress. And then work intervened.
A few weeks on the road this year quickly turned into almost 6 months straight. At one time I didn’t see my home for over 6 weeks.
That said, it was just an excuse.
If I wanted to I could have hit the gyms at the hotels I was staying at. But I lacked the discipline to stick to the gains I had already made. Slowly I managed to pack back on 10 of the 30 I had lost to begin the year.
When my travels ended in November though, a new focus emerged.
I joined a gym close to the office, found someone to hold me accountable, and we hit the gym every morning prior to work. Too often I still eat like shit, but at least I’m more active (read: sore) than I have been in a long time.
Writing – 3.0
This one has been tough for me.
Reading has never been an issue for me; I went through probably 30+ books in the last 12 months. A long plane flight allows a good deal of time to get into a good book.
Writing, however, doesn’t come naturally to me.
Sure I crank out a 40 page report on the safety systems at airports without much issue, but to delve deep and try to help people like I try and do with this blog is difficult. My perfectionist nature often takes over and makes me hold back far more than I actually publish.
That said, I wrote another epic post this year which included a ton of actionable advice on passing the PE exam.
I did allow for that post to suck up too much of my time. All in I only managed to post 6 articles, plus one guest post, last year. I started a ton more, but for whatever reason never felt good enough to get them out there.
Even with this limited output, I’ve managed to engage better with you all.
Both the number of monthly views and email subscribers raised substantially, so I take that as a sign that the things I am writing are connecting with others.
But as always, if there’s anything I can ever write about to help you… let me know.
Professional – 8.0
I didn’t get a title bump, my raise was rather insignificant, but I accomplished much of what I wanted to do this year.
The year began with me cranking away on a multi-billion (construction) dollar project. It allowed me the opportunity to work on all aspects of my industry, supervise more people, and expand my typical role. The job was a beast, but I’m a stronger engineer for volunteering for the opportunity.
As I’ve alluded to before, I spent a ton of time on the road this year. In the last 6 months of the year, I flew 48,726 miles and crashed at a hotel or AirBnB 108 nights.
This limited the amount of time I was able to spend on design, and was likely the thing that sped up my transition to a full-time project manager. I’ve been doing more front-end work, closeout of projects, and client-facing work ever since I sacrificed my own desires for the needs of my company.
But that’s a story for another day.
My resume is being used for more and more project bids, I’ve cemented an ever-expanding role, and I even have someone working with me almost all the time.
In other news, my first sale went from a study to a large-scale design/build project. We received a contract just the other day for the first phase, and I couldn’t be happier. Business development is an area that I’ve always wanted to work in, and I’m already seeing results there.
Overall, a good year. But I think I can do better…
So what’s to come this year?
I’m going to continue with the same 4 categories as last year and continue to build momentum in those areas.
Relationship wise, I’m still looking to rekindle some past relationships and foster deeper bonds with people who I respect and enjoy spending time with. This includes family members, coworkers, and long-lost friends.
For health I still want to lose about another 10-15% of my body weight. With this, I might also explore a secondary sport in addition to volleyball this summer.
Realistically, I know that my writing needs the most work. I’d like to say that I’ll sit down and write every day, but I know that’s not feasible. Setting myself up for failure won’t do me any good. Instead I’m going to just write a minimum of 12 posts this year, and do at least 4 guest posts. Reasonable, I think.
Professionally, I’ve got only 1 goal in mind… becoming a full-time PM. This will require a ton of work, and I’m well on my way.
In addition to the above, I’m going to be focusing on smaller goals as well. Right now I’m thinking 3-month specific goals that I plan on building into habits and will focus on a specific measurement to determine if I’ve accomplished them.
Let me give you an example.
In large part due to dating someone from Brazil, I’ve decided to try and learn Portuguese. My strategy includes 10 mins of Duolingo daily, conversing with Juliana in it, and maybe watching a subtitled movie or show from time-to-time.
The end goal will be having a 5-min (or more) conversation with her mom when I visit Brazil sometime this year.
I’m still trying to figure out some other goals, but picking the guitar up might end up being round 2.
So tell me, do you do any sort of end of year review? If so, how do you think you did and how will you make this year even better?