How (and why) to do a personal quarterly review
A personal quarterly review is a look back at the last quarter with an eye toward celebrating and building on successes, setting new goals, and changing behaviors that no longer serve you.
Why do it? Especially when you’re in the middle of a project or a busy season, time moves fast. It’s so easy to look around and realize it’s annual review time again, and you can barely recall what you were doing last week.
A personal quarterly review gives you time to slow down, reflect, and make micro-adjustments to your day-to-day approach, which increases the likelihood you’ll reach your short- and longer-term goals.
How to do it:
There are six steps to a solid quarterly review: Recap > Evaluate > Reflect > Envision > Anticipate > Commit.
Find a quiet spot, grab a pen, paper, and your calendar, and allow yourself at least 45 minutes* to go through the six steps below.
The first three steps give you a chance to look back.
RECAP: Take a look back and assess what you accomplished last quarter. Give yourself credit for everything you accomplished! For your business accomplishments, be sure to update your contribution statements folder to reflect your achievements.
EVALUATE: How close did you get to achieving the goals you set for the quarter? I like to do a quick-and-dirty assessment here - I give myself five options and ballpark: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%. The trick is to answer honestly, and not to beat yourself up about the number.
Here’s why: It is likely that your goals changed or evolved over the quarter, or the time you thought you had available for them shrank. Maybe your group changed direction halfway through the quarter and a new project got added to your plate… Maybe a family thing came up and you needed to slow things down and increase your care-taking tasks… Maybe you realized that the goal you set for yourself wasn’t the goal you actually wanted. Hey, kudos to you for having the flexibility to recognize and adapt! It’s not required nor is it even 100% desirable for every single goal you set at the outset of the quarter to remain exactly the same.
REFLECT: Ask yourself, what worked well last quarter? What didn’t?
Go deep with yourself here: Did you not achieve your goal to go to three new networking events because you legitimately couldn’t make it work, or because you got too nervous to actually go after you signed up? What does that mean to you: Do you need to get an accountability buddy and push through the nerves? Or maybe you need to see if that buddy will go with you? Or perhaps those huge events you signed up for weren’t right, and this quarter you need to look for some that are smaller, more low-key?
Remember to think holistically here: we’re not just looking at professional stuff. What went well in your personal life? Did you successfully reduce your phone usage? Meet your commitment to read a book just-for-fun? Maybe you started using those light-blocking glasses in the evenings and you noticed you slept better those nights… write that down!
The final three steps have you looking toward the future
ENVISION: This Ideal Day visioning exercise can be a powerful tool to bring your future dreams into your current reality.
Sit in a comfortable position and rest there quietly for a few moments; close your eyes or let your gaze go soft, and just breathe. After a few moments, allow your mind to picture yourself a year or so in the future. What does an ideal day in your life look like? Picture yourself waking up, going through your morning routine; follow yourself through the day and into the evening, paying attention to how you feel. Stay in this vision as long as you need to pick up the details of light, sound, smells, even tastes, until you see yourself ending the day.
Take a few moments to readjust to your surroundings, and then grab your pen and paper once more. This time, write out what stood out to you about that day in your future life. What were you doing? Who were you interacting with? What was the same, and what was different, about your current day-to-day life?
Finally, ask yourself, “what one thing can I do over the next quarter to get myself closer to that ideal day?
Before moving on to the next step, allow yourself a few more quiet moments to let the vision settle into your subconscious where, I promise you, it will begin to go to work.
ANTICIPATE: Take a look at your calendar for the next three months. Considering what’s already scheduled, what is realistic for you to accomplish? How much time do you really have available to you in the next couple months?
Have you carved out space for strategic thinking, play, and rest? What needs to “give” to make that happen; maybe you need to reschedule something, or cancel it / opt-out entirely.
What would bring you joy to look forward to in the next few months? Maybe there’s a fun seasonal event in your local town coming up, or you want to look into joining a CSA/farm share. I personally find Facebook events to be a great resource for the Anticipate step.
Lastly, remember to create time for your next quarterly review, a few days prior to the end of the quarter or a few days into the next quarter. *The quarterly review takes awhile the first time you do it; as you implement it as a regular practice, you will find it takes less time.
COMMIT: Pick three to five goals you will commit to for the quarter. Write them down.
If you have more than five goals, first try to scale it back: go back to your Anticipate step and make sure you’re being realistic. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment!
Next, see if you can zoom out a bit and consolidate: “Go to an Ellevate networking night” and “reach out to Francine’s boss for an informational interview” can be wrapped into “Take two new actions to build my network,” or “Spent one hour per month on networking.”
Or, say you want to try the new spin class at your gym, add a new supplement, and go to bed earlier? You can wrap those up into a singular goal to “Try a new self-care strategy and track how I respond to it,” and then write those ideas underneath the goal.
Your personal quarterly review is complete!
Place your quarterly goals somewhere you’ll see them often, and refer back to them throughout the quarter when you’re doing your weekly planning. Then, get ready to have your best quarter yet!
If you liked this, you’ll love my free career development guide, Take Charge of Your Career: Five Actions You Can Complete in 20 Minutes or Less! Subscribe to my periodic email updates to get your free copy today!
About the author
Sharon Stolt is a transformational career strategist and career coach based in Boulder, Colorado. She is on a mission to help unapologetically ambitious professional women take charge of their career future. Learn more at sharonstolt.com/about.