Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 101 – Significant Achievements of 2011

I’ve come to embrace the notion that I haven’t done enough in my life. I’ve come to confirm that one’s title, even a title like president of the United States, says very little about how well one’s life has been led. No matter how much you’ve done or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, always more to learn, and always more to achieve.
Barack Obama (1961 – ), Arizona State Commencement Speech, 2009
So my question to you as we race screaming to what is the end of another year is this:
What have you achieved this year?
It should be a question that can either make you proud of what you have managed to get through personally and professionally in the last 365 days. It can also be a question that could perhaps make us squirm.
But it is a serious question and one that you should consider answering with some honesty because ALL your significant achievements of this and every year should be added to your CV. And perhaps as importantly, they should form the basis of your new year, your new plans and your new goals. How is this so?
Imagine building a wall. Would you build a wall without first considering why you need a wall, where it needs to be, what it is going to be made of, how high it is going to be and whether you need to put in footings (foundations) first? And what happens when you start building – do you simply lay the bricks haphazardly on the last course of bricks or do you take time to ensure they were completed properly so you had the foundation layer for the next set of bricks?
Or take a new child – babies have to take things in stages – first they have to learn to hold their head up and straight, then hold their bodies in place, learn what to do with those weird extremeties that stick out at funny angles – and all that before learning how to roll over, crawl, pull themselves up on the furntiture and take their first tentative steps. Without going through each stage in turn it would be very unlikely the child would develop properly.
So it is with our own careers. We can’t hope to be brilliant the first time we try anything, but the foundations we laid last year, will be built upon this year to allow us to move onwards and upwards (should we want to).
That’s all well and good, but thinking back, it’s not just the years that blur into one another, but days and weeks too. So it is important to keep track of what you do. Our memories can be notoriously bad at times J
We all know that goal setting has 5 components, to be a “GOAL” it should be:
S              Specific;
M            Measureable;
A             Attainable (Achievable);
R             Realistic; and
T              Timebound.
The 2nd element, that of “measurable” means we can determine how well we are doing. While the Time component provides us with a specific measure of usable hours in which we do our measuring – in this case 365 days / 52 weeks / 12 months / or 1 year.
So – Did you achieve your goals for the last year? Can you tell? Unfortunately for some people their idea of goal setting is some vague, wishy washy statement at the start of the year that went something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be nice if …” and you can guess just how many of those statements were achieved, can’t you.
But how do you “measure”?
One of the things that I do is keep a day book. That book contains all my notes, things to do, things not to do, daily achievements and, over time repeated patterns of behaviour can be spotted.
It is this (along with diaries and calendars) that can tell me at a glance what it is I have achieved each year.
I transfer my significant achievements into my CV and transfer the not done and still needs to be done into my new book for the new year. And anything that shouldn’t have been on the list in the first place gets removed (not transferred).
Your CV is (or should be) a working document, it’s also a great tool for appraisal time. And put it like this, if you don’t do it now, you are likely to forget. Years blur into each other and when you do need to update your CV, you are less likely to remember why another organisation should consider you as being THE best person for the job.
But what if you haven’t achieved anything you could consider being a significant achievement this year?
First of all, be honest – were you expected to achieve anything signigficant during your working year? Or are you simply expected to turn up, do whatever is listed on your job description and go home again at the end of each day? If that is the case, then so be it.
Were you supposed to achieve something significant during the year – and didn’t? Be honest – was it because of something you did or didn’t do that contributed to the lack of achievement? Was it unrealistic based on someone elses expectations of what you should or shouldn’t be doing? Could you be bothered? And if not – then why not?
But in looking at our significant achievements, please also take time to look at your personal development – did you achieve anything worth sharing with future employers?
•Did you present a paper at a conference?•Did you write a book?•Were you a member of a committee?•Did you do any kind of voluntary work?•Did you do any kind of training? You may for instance have taken a series of night classes to learn something new. That proves commitment to your personal AND sometimes professional development.
Looking at the answers to those questions and many more as you are reading this – ask one more. Will that information enhance or detract from my CV? Not everyone needs to know you have taken up ballroom dancing for instance, unless of course you are going to apply for a job as an instructor.
As we do come to the end of this working year, I would ask that you do review your year, make your significant achievements an integral part of your marketing tool that is “you” and spend a little time planning the next 12 months. And it is important to do it now, because if you wait until the new year changes are going to to be good that the next 12 months will likely be the same as the last 12. Which is definitely something to think about.
Finally I would like to add a very personal thank you to each and everyone who has worked with us to make 2011 such a memorable year. And I look forward to working with many more of you in the coming year to help you become everything you want to be.
For now, please accept my best wishes for this festive season. Be safe, be happy, enjoy the thinking time and it is my hope that we all have THE best 2012 we know it can be.