Good riddance 2020, eh? Before we get the hell rid of the year in total, it might be a good idea to review. This way, you can get closure on things you don’t want to take with you, celebrate the successes — though just coming alive on the other side is a big success, if you ask me — and take the valuables forward.
There are plenty of frameworks and methods to do this. I use the Best Year Ever method. I’ve also used other frameworks in the past. Here’s a super-simplified 2020-adapted version of it. 🙂
How much money did you make?
Get all your invoices together. Identify how much you made in total. Celebrate. Before you go any further, be proud of what you’ve done. It’s a pandemic year. Any work you got done is good enough.
Then, look at all your bills and deduct expenses from your revenue. Even though it isn’t tax season yet, remember it’s something you owe. Deduct that as well.
Spend some time thinking about money matters: Did you achieve your goals? What went wrong? What are the accounts where you did more work than you had initially scoped? Which clients took too long to pay?
I noticed that getting money from overseas clients incurs a lot of expenses in bank fees, PayPal fees etc. Account for such things too.
What went well?
A lot of things go well in a year, but we end up obsessing over the bad things that we forget to celebrate how far we’ve come. Take time to especially recall the good stuff: Which projects did you thoroughly enjoy? Which clients paid on time?
Use this to learn what works well for you. For instance, a client who gave you the brief a month ahead of time might have put you at ease, which helped you write better. Learn from here that you like advance notice. Use these lessons to plan your future better.
Something or the other sucks every year. Don’t ruminate. Use this time to list what didn’t go well and design interventions. If a client takes too long to pay, you can ask for an advance. If a client sucks with feedback, you can train them on how you like to receive comments. If you’re not motivated by a specific project, you can ease yourself out of it.
Don’t spend disproportionate amount of time here. Cover the important stuff, move on.
What are you proud of?
Take a virtual punch on the face if you said, ‘nothing’. Think harder. This doesn’t have to be the Nobel prize. If you’ve begun saying no, after years of being a pushover, hurray! If you completed something you never thought you would, high-five! List three.
I won’t let you go further until you’ve three things you’re proud of.
Well done. Now, what do you want to do more of? What do you want to do less of? What do you want to start doing?
This is a method of giving feedback: Start, stop, continue it’s called. I’m just applying it to closing out feedback for myself. To make 2021 a better year, what do you want to start doing, what would you like to stop doing, and what great stuff would you continue?
Write them down. Pour yourself some wine and be merry. Here’s wishing you a fantastic new year.
P.S: I’ve kept it extremely simple to get you started on the practice of self-appraisal. If you’re up for it, make it as complex as you need. Ask more why questions. Look at different dimensions of the data you’ve collected. Challenge yourself.