How To Prepare A Performance Review, Part 3: 10 Questions For Self-Reflection

By: Caroline Ceniza-Levine

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If you work for a company that gives official ​performance reviews, then you have a built-in structure at the end of the year for self-reflection. If you had a breakout year on the job, use the p​erformance review to forward your career. If you didn’t have a strong year, this can still be overcome, but you need to prepare for a negative perform​ance review. (I wrote two posts for Forbes on performance reviews for good and bad years, and these are Par​t 1 and Pa​rt 2 of the Performance Review series.)

[Related: ​What to Do If You Suspect Bias in Your Performance Review]

If you work for yourself or don’t have an employer that gives performance reviews, then do a self-performance review. Look at your accomplishments this past year. Identify areas that need improvement. Clarify your priorities going forward. Start planning now to make next year even better.

  1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
  2. What was your favorite project or client this year?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like to do more of next year?
  4. What was your least favorite project or client this year?
  5. What activity are you going to stop doing or decrease next year?
  6. What skills or expertise did you hone this year? How did you develop professionally?
  7. What resources, training, or support do you need for next year?
  8. Are you excited and energized going into next year?
  9. What is your biggest priority for next year?
  10. How can you take better care of yourself for next year?

Capture your answers to the above questions. If there are one or more questions that particularly resonate, go deeper in these areas. For example, if you are not excited about next year (question 8), try to clarify how you’re feeling and why. Are you anxious because your career isn’t secure? Are you feeling burnout and need to slow down?

Use these questions as a springboard to determine what you can start doing now — there’s no magic in January 1. If you identify areas you need help, consider lining up resources now so you can start strong in 2019 (and take advantage of any holiday special pricing). If it turns out you had an amazing year, treat yourself to something extra special (again, taking advantage of holiday specials!). If you had a difficult year, that still might be cause to celebrate — at least you’re facing the challenge head-on rather than ignoring it. Many times, a breakthrough comes after extreme difficulty or a plateau when it seems nothing is happening.

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year. — John Foster Dulles

Bonus question: Are your goals for next year moving you forward or wrestling with the same issues as last year?

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career change expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She writes a weekly advice column on Fo​rbes. Her latest career change is running real estate, travel, and FIRE site CostaRica​

Previously published on

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