Somehow we’re already in the fourth quarter busy planning our holiday vacations and realizing exactly how much we need to start doing to achieve our annual goals, which of course has us questioning “where did this year go?” The last two months of the year are probably the most important months for your career – it’s you last opportunity to make an impact, achieve milestones that seem light-years away, and continue to tell the story of who you are as an employee.
Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that we are soooo close to wanting to check out – vacation, take a break, slow things down a bit as much as possible. While there is definitely some room for that, you also need to set yourself up for year-end success.
Writing Your Own Story of Success
1. Start Gathering Your Successes
Even though you know at the beginning of each year that you should be accumulating your successes as they happen, work can be too busy to keep that practice up. Now is the time to start compiling and gathering – so you can start crafting your performance story.
Look back at the projects you’ve worked on, the milestones you’ve achieved, the feedback you’ve earned – and make a list. This will be the backbone of your story – think of it as an outline of sorts for your self-assessment or year-end review.
If you find pieces of your story missing, now is the time to reach out to your colleagues to get their feedback and gain their support. If you wait until January when most everyone else will be reaching out for their input, it will get lost in a sea of requests and not be as telling. Now, is better.
2. Review Your Milestones
Most of us have annual goals or milestones that we aim to meet – the goal is obviously to meet and exceed them as often as possible. Take out your goal sheet, ahem – the one buried at the bottom of your desk, and start scoring your progress.
Look at the goals you’ve accomplished and the items outstanding. Where can you add even more value to the goals you’ve achieved (superstar status) and where do you need to push yourself and team members to deliver?
Create a specific and actionable plan to reach these goals. Burying the goal sheet back in your desk doesn’t count… piece it all out so you know exactly the steps you need to achieve to accomplish your goals. If that’s not your thing, check out Make Sh*t Happen – Jenny will be sure you know what needs to happen.
3. Talk to Your Manager
Likely you already are interacting with your manager on a somewhat regular basis – but are you actually learning anything? Remember, your manager holds many of the keys to the kingdom in the valuation and progression of your career – so find out what they’re thinking before you have to read all about it in your review.
When you have your one-on-one meetings with them, come in with a focused agenda. Fill them in on the various things you’re working on, provide status updates on items that may be stalled out and ask them for specific guidance on your performance. Ask questions like:
- I wanted to check in with you on this project X. How do you think it’s going? What can I do to make it a home run?
- Here’s an update on my annual goals – which items should take priority?
- How do you think my performance is going (enter a specific area of focus here)?
Once your manager knows that you are not only interested in their opinion but also interested in your own career success, he/she will be a lot more inclusive in your overall standing – making it less likely for your year-end review to be a surprise.
Remember that year-end is always going to be a stressful time of year – especially at work. But it is also the most important time of year to create long-lasting “halo effects” of your performance and capabilities.
If you start building in these practices now in an ongoing basis, you will increase your success factors for career success – and help eliminate and manager any type of issues that come up before it’s too late. Getting started now, allows you to tell your own story – not waiting for someone else to write it for you.
This post first appeared on LifeAfterCollege.org.