In December many people turn toward self-reflection: reviewing and evaluating their lives, their jobs, and their happiness as the year winds down and considering what changes (if any) they’d like to make in the new year. Some write down a handful of resolutions for the new year in January and refer back to see if they achieved all (or any) of them. Others may consult their calendar or bank statements to review the year’s progress. And a third group may just use the gut-check method: how do I feel about the year that has passed?
But none of those methods ever felt like they really allowed me to both quantitatively and qualitatively reflect on the entire year in a way that informed my priorities and goals for the year ahead. So I decided to create a tool for myself. And after mentioning my balanced scorecard in an episode of The Limit Does Not Exist, the podcast I co-host for Forbes, listeners tweeted and emailed requesting I share it.
As I was completing business school several years ago I stumbled upon the Balanced Scorecard performance management tool. It’s a semi-structured framework first developed by Dr. Robert Kaplan and Dr. David Norton in the early 1990’s that incorporates a range of financial and non-financial business goals to monitor progress toward a company’s business agenda. The mix of data collected and the structure of the report focuses the user on identifying not just strategic priorities but also the specific targets and activities to reach those targets.
I decided to adapt this tool for my own personal use and to use it on a semi-annual basis to check in and redirect my work across four verticals: financial health, physical health, professional achievement, and personal relationships.
A semi-annual basis seemed more useful than an annual one because it encouraged me to keep an eye on progress in intervals that ensured I had time to make changes before the year-end. And over time I refined my goals toward those that were specific enough they could be measured while fully acknowledging that not everything that matters can be measured (and the opposite is also true: not everything that can be measured, matters).
tt’s certainly not perfect (and some make the argument that time management and a goal orientation toward life detract from the pleasure of actually living your life), but I find the process of choosing the categories and making the goals truly helps me clarify what I care about and how I wish to prioritize for the year; the evaluation process is almost a secondary outcome.