The last day of the year is an opportune time for you to measure your performance for the year and reflect on it. Management guru Peter Drucker advised: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Was 2011 kind to you? Or was it a tough year? Where did things go wrong? How can you do better next year?

Think of all the ups and downs, the good and bad, the best and worst that occurred in your personal and work life — try to tie up any loose ends and then move forward.

Remember when you used to receive your report card at school? It would document your performance for the year — the subjects you did well in, those you failed in and those you could improve in. Your teacher’s comments were feedback on your strengths and weaknesses.

As a working adult, the feedback you get from your supervisor performs a similar function. How did your performance measure up this year? Did you meet all your targets? How are you going to do better next year?

The same questions apply to your personal life too. How did you fare as a spouse, partner or parent? How can you do better next year?

Charting the future

Find a quiet place and allocate a specific time to review and reflect. As Roman orator Cicero rightly put it: “It is not by muscle, speed or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.”

Grade yourself A+, A-, B, C, D to F for each of these specific areas: career, family, friends, health, finance, personal development and spirituality.

Success

List down the things you successfully accomplished this year. What are your seven best accomplishments? Be objective in your assessment. If you are proud of your achievements, repeat what you did in 2012.

Make it better

How can you make sure you do better the coming year?

List all the resources you need, whether it is more training, coaching or more money. Think about how you can gain access to these resources to enable your success. For example, you can ask your boss about training programmes to upgrade your skills, or engage a career coach or mentor to help bring you to the next level. Is there
anyone you know who can help you reach your goals better and faster?

Failure

You also need to list the areas you failed in and reflect on what the causes were. Ask yourself how you can avoid the same failures. Think of the immediate steps you need to take to put you on the right path.

Instead of shifting the blame to others, study why you failed and learn from the experience. Accept that there will be obstacles in your life. As American preacher Frank Clark said: “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Lessons learnt

Every event, be it a success or failure, can offer some valuable lessons. What are the seven biggest lessons you have learnt from the past year? Successes can teach you about achieving what you thought was not possible or about qualities you did not know you have.

Learning from failure is equally important because if you don’t, you are likely to repeat the behaviour that caused it. Think about new habits and attitudes you want to adopt to replace negative ones. 

Move forward

If you don’t stop and evaluate your year, every year will be similar to the next. A review segregates the years and helps you define stages in your progress towards your goals. It rates your performance, from A+ to F and signals the steps you need to take.

The late American singer, TV host and businessman Jimmy Dean once said: “I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Once you have completed your review, you are ready to set new goals for 2012. As philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.”