“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
It’s the end of the year and time to review what you accomplished. I didn’t used to do any sort of exercise like this at the end of the year, at least, not on a personal level. Working a corporate job like I did (as a project manager), well, we had to do performance reviews twice a year.
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Those reviews were thorough, if you wanted them to be, or a joke if you didn’t take it seriously. Most people sorta hate the annual performance review process. I had periods in my corporate career where I thought it was a joke, but later in my career I figured out how to use the process to push me to accomplish more rather than feel like I didn’t have control of my destiny.
My personal end-of-year-review is a work in progress, and I’ll keep honing the process each year and each quarter. Yep, reviewing your progress each quarter or even more often is required if you want to get anything out of an exercise like goal setting.
My mastermind group is doing an end of year review and goal setting for next year, 2017, triggering this post.
It’s great to have other people (like a mastermind group) give you honest feedback since each of us is terrible at looking at ourselves objectively.
Here’s an overview of what I’m looking at this month as it applies to reviewing my year in 2016. I’ll give a couple specific examples of my goals, successes, and failures.
Set Goals the Right Way
Use the SMART goal system. If you set vague goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you do a lot and make progress, you may still feel like you failed because you weren’t specific enough. You may not do much to reach your goal since you haven’t laid out anything specific to get done.
Goals like, “Lose weight” or “Earn more money” are terrible.
I can talk all day about the SMART system, but I’ll keep this brief and you can go look it up. There are a few variations, but the process pretty much holds true for any variation you might see.
Here is what SMART stands for:
The point is that if you’re goals are created in the SMART way, then you’ll be forced to actually think through what you want to do. Vague goals don’t work. Goals like, “Lose weight” or “Earn more money” are terrible. If you think about each component of the SMART system, then you’ll have to refine your goals and start thinking about the steps to reach your goals.
I’ll share some goals around my niche sites.
- Get Site #1 to $10,000 per month by December, 2016.
- Get Site #2 to $5,000 per month by December, 2016.
I added details around Site #1, and this was directly in my mastermind group’s Trello board. It was this:
Add a sh*tload of content to Site #1 to reach the goal. I’m adding about 10 posts per week for long tail content right now (June) and I’ll keep at it until I run out of keywords. Then, I’ll just add to the word count of the existing articles. I thought about running some calculations about how many articles to publish. But then I thought “f*ck it” – I’ll publish as much as I can manage and go from there to find the winners.
I didn’t have any specific steps noted for Site #2.
Look at What You Accomplished
Review what you did over the year. This will be your body of work, depending on what you’ve been working on. You can and should look at your personal and professional areas since they both take time and effort.
If you documented goals at the beginning or anytime during the year, then have a look at those. You’ll see what you wanted to do and pat yourself on the back for getting it done. You should take time to appreciate your accomplishments.
Figure out why you accomplished them. Most likely, it’ll be clear that you spent more time and effort to reach those goals. Sometimes luck goes your way and you accomplished something with less effort than expected. However, in those cases you probably created your own luck.
For the two niche sites, here is what happened:
- Site #1: I took massive action and published about 200 new pieces of content, far exceeding my goal of 10 posts a week. You can read more about how I did that here. So that enabled MASSIVE growth for the site (without backlinks). I hit $10,000 around the middle of December which was surprising!
- Site #2: Hmmm. This didn’t go so well. I hardly did anything for this poor, neglected site. I sent out a few emails with affiliate offers, and made a few hundred dollars. That seems like something, but the earnings didn’t even cover the cost of having the email list. So BIG FAIL…
You too will notice that you didn’t accomplish certain things that you set out to do. So that brings us to the next step…
Look at What You Failed At
This one is even more important. You can learn more from your failures than the successes.
- Did you run out of time?
- Is the goal not important to you?
- Did you continually not prioritize it?
- Did you neglect to work on it?
This part will be harder and painful to review. That’s okay – that’s when we make progress. If you can identify why you didn’t reach your goals, then you can take steps to reach them in the future, maybe next year!
We all get 24 hours a day, and it’s up to us to be productive, or whatever you’d like to do with your time. As you can see, Site #2 was a total failure.
- I never developed a plan or set of subtasks to reach the goal.
- I never treated the site like a priority.
- I pretty much ran out of time with other projects taking priority.
The site is important to me and so is the goal. That means it’s a matter of priority and developing a plan to get the site on track. It’s a goal for next year too, and I’ll have more time to dedicate to it. I need to make it a priority if I want to reach $5,000 per month for this site.
Take What You Learned to Develop a Plan For the Next Year
You now have an idea about what you did well at and what didn’t go as planned. You can develop better goals for next year based on that.
For example, if you accomplished one of your goals and after reviewing how you managed to do it, you realize that you planned out your weekly actions well in advance. Maybe you treated a particular goal and set of activities as your highest priority – you guarded the time.
If you failed to complete something, explore why. You might have to think about it for a while and come back to it. After all, you may set a goal that you actually don’t care about, but for some reason it always shows up on your list. You should do yourself a favor and stop putting it on your list since it’s taking up your mental energy.
My main takeaway is to do less. It’s great to have big ideas about what you can do, but if you’re spread out thin, then you’ll drive yourself crazy. For me it applies to the annual goals and to the daily tasks that I work on.
I try to work on too much for the big, annual goals – too many separate projects. It comes down to how many large projects a person can focus on.
I feel like I can work on many things at once, but I actually can’t. I do a better job on everything if I am doing fewer things.
More importantly, I’m happier if I have fewer projects to work on.
Additionally, on a daily basis I feel better (happier) if I am able to work on a few things and finish them. I hate the feeling when I work on my To-Do list all day and don’t finish everything. The problem is that I think I can do more than I actually can in one day.
For me, the goal isn’t to work all day. It’s the opposite, and I’ll be thinking about that as I develop my goals for 2017.
Need YOUR Help
Leave a comment and tell me:
- How did this year go for you?
- Do you review your year? If so, how do you do it?