“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved,” the great Roman statesman, orator and philosopher Cicero wrote, “but by reflection, force of character, and judgement”.
Here, Cicero makes two points about how to review your accomplishments. The first is that your greatest achievements aren’t always immediately obvious. The second is that – irrespective of your objective accomplishments – individual strength lies in the ability to take stock of past events and find lessons for the future.
As the end of the year draws closer, this wisdom is particularly relevant. If you can reflect on your successes and failures even-handedly, you’ll be able to freshen up your CV and seek out new opportunities in 2019.
More than merely a target you’ve hit, an achievement represents meaningful progress towards your career goals. So, how can you move beyond superficial milestones to identify real personal growth?
One way is to use self-assessment questionnaires. LiveCareer’s Katharine Hansen, PhD, encourages you to ask yourself probing questions. Although these may be tricky to answer, doing so will highlight your less immediately obvious successes.
Harvard Business Review stresses the importance of perspective. Since it’s nearly impossible to avoid subjectivity in your own judgements, you should get feedback from customers and clients. Sites like Survey Monkey have many useful templates that you can adapt to your own needs.
After you’ve identified your accomplishments for the year, the next step is to understand them in more detail. Say, for example, you’ve exceeded your sales goal for the year. At this point you should congratulate yourself, but also recognise that even successes contain opportunities for growth. Ask yourself a few questions: what kinds of sales did you tend to make? Were you weaker in some areas than others? How did that bear upon your overall performance?
If you have access to data about your accomplishments, visualisations can make analysing them a lot simpler. Hubspot has some great examples of how a well-crafted visual can link information, and there are lots of free tools like Visualize Free to help you get started.
Other kinds of achievements demand a different approach. Qualitative achievements, especially, are best understood by placing them in context with areas for improvement. Do this by comparing your achievements with industry benchmarks (whether in real estate or otherwise), alternative business models and even different sectors.
Once you have all the information, the final step is to use it to create actionable takeaways. Be honest with yourself. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses – the key to success is focusing your efforts to match.
Psychologist David Kolb suggests taking the time to either develop fresh ideas or modify your existing goals and strategies. A mentor or support system may be helpful here, as they’ll be able to share their expertise and give you constructive feedback before you take your ideas into the field.
Equipped with these stress-tested ideas, you can plan for 2019. Make sure to map your personal development goals by feeding them into tools such as SWOT and SMART analyses.
Preparation can go a long way. Combine it with a healthy dose of reflection and self-awareness and 2019 could well be your year.