Welcome back to the Creative Life Adventure.
Earlier this year, I made a decision that involved what I call “jumping off a cliff.” I left my conventional day job for a life of free-lance writing and photography. There was (and still is) a lot of risk involved, but my personal risk isn’t the subject of this blog post.
Not long ago, when I passed the three month point of my new career direction, I did a quarterly assessment of myself. A quarterly review is a common business practice. I learned to appreciate the process during one of my first jobs out of college, when my employer’s board of directors conducted quarterly reviews with each business unit within the company. An important part of this process is that the review not be threatening – the goal is to measure progress toward existing goals, decide what changes might need to be made, and even evaluate whether or not the goals were the right ones in the first place. In a business setting, it’s an important tool to stay on track, maintain communication, and improve satisfaction for both staff and management.
I’m talking about doing something similar for yourself. This is what I did for myself recently. It wasn’t a long process, I simply spent a few hours here and there over the course of several days. I wrote the results in a bound notebook that I don’t really use as a journal, but to record ideas for writing projects, random thoughts, interesting quotes, occasional dreams, and other bits and pieces of my life.
For my quarterly review, I looked at both my professional efforts and my personal life. Writing and photography projects, my personal life, personal finance, fitness and diet, our home, etc. Everything I could think of. I jotted down key points as to what I felt I had done well, where I came up short, and some specific goals for the next three months.
A quarterly self assessment can be an important technique to keep yourself on track to meet existing goals and establish new goals. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. I conducted my own assessment on my own, with a couple of brief discussions with my wife. You may want to ask colleagues, clients, friends, or relatives to participate. Your goals might be very specific (“I want to run a 5K in 20 minutes by the end of summer”) or more general (“I want to reduce stress through mindfulness and mediation”). General goals should have some kind of benchmarks attached to them, but not everything in life needs to be quantified – sometimes, simply demonstrating progress is enough.
A quarterly self-review can be as detailed as you want it to be – it’s yours, to use (or not use!) in whatever way is most beneficial for you. Give it a try and see how it influences your own goal fulfillment and overall self-awareness.