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Career Coach: Jumpstart 2006 with a Year-End Review

After a chat with Sonys lead artist and designer Fumito Ueda, Fred Galpern enters the Shadow of the Colossus videogame and reports back on whether this PS2 title holds up to the hype.

You dont know where youre going until you know where youve been. So chart your course for 2006 with a simple tool: the year-end review. Successful businesses and organizations know the power of year-end reviews. The yearly wrap-up can boost your spirits and motivate you for the year to come. To reap the maximum benefit of your experiences you need to record them and celebrate the growth they fostered. Heres how to put them in a form you can easily refer to:

List your credits. Write down your major accomplishments for 2005. Include all important areas of your life: work/career, family, friends, finances, hobbies, community and personal development. Use calendars, diaries or other records to jog your memory. (Work related areas of the list can also help when you redo your résumé). Your list might read: Organized auction to benefit childs school. Started yoga classes. Had gallery show of my art work. Results are important. Dreams fulfilled, goals achieved, big tasks completed obviously earn a place in your year-end review.

Consult with others. Ask your family, friends and closest colleagues what they see as your biggest accomplishment of the past year or what they consider most memorable. You may get some surprising answers. Perhaps they noticed something you missed. Add the items to your list.

Give yourself credit for perseverance. You gain strength from consistent follow through and persistent practice of new behaviors, even if the results arent yet obvious. For example, committing to a regular exercise program in 2005, and sticking to it is an achievement even if you havent shed all those unwanted pounds yet. Any other ongoing challenges should also be on your list such as Third year of sticking to only one dessert a week.

Include emotional successes. Your achievements in developing stronger emotional skills deserve to be counted, even though no one may know about them but you. Negotiated family vacation without casualties or Resolved leftover issues from Thanksgiving with brothers can be just as noteworthy as higher-visibility feats such as surpassing a company sales goal.

Add Details. To each item on your list, add details, feelings, others comments, special circumstances that give the achievement significance. For instance, to Had Gallery Show, you might add Husband sent a big bunch of flowers and daughter took me to lunch. Amplify. Organized school auction with It was our most profitable fund raiser so far.

Silence your inner critic. There are probably plans and goals you stalled on part way through or never even started. Dont obsess over mistakes, losses or failures. Winners focus on their successes. Babe Ruth has a record for the most home runs. He also has a record for the most strikeouts. Nobody remembers him for what he did wrong. Celebrate what you want to see more of.

Replace scornful thoughts like Didnt get promoted with useful questions such as What would it take to improve my chances of getting the promotion? The answer will give you incremental goals you can put on your 2006 to-do list. For instance, the fizzled promotion goal might yield, Do more face-to-face networking with people outside my department. Thats a goal for 2006.

Do the same for personal disappointments. Maybe you unexpectedly lost your job and you plunged into the Pits. Understandably you felt disappointed and anxious. Its normal to feel sad and angry when you lose your job and your productivity might plummet. Dont spend too much time dwelling over the time you wasted and mistakes you made in the past. There is nothing you can do about the past. Make plans to improve your future. When you experience job loss, analyze it. Maybe the job wasnt right for you. Maybe you didnt know how to deal with a difficult boss. Knowing why you lost your job, determine how you can improve (perhaps you need to take a class on how to deal with difficult people). Develop a plan for finding the next job. A setback during 2005 gives you a goal for 2006.

Put your review in the form that packs the most punch. If you are a visual person, turn your year-end list into an eye-grabbing poster or collage. If you crave backslaps and hugs from the people you value most, hold a celebration dinner with friends to share each others successes. If youre a verbal type, use your list to write up a flattering newsletter about yourself, to share with family and friends or just to reread now and then when youre under the stress of current pressures (a time when we tend to forget about past successes).

Have fun. The year-end review is a way to acknowledge accomplishments and encourage yourself. Celebrating the new year with a personal year-end review may help you avoid the holiday doldrums and begin 2006 with a rekindled spirit of adventure, and a dose of energetic motivation.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker. On Feb. 2, 2006, Pamela will present a seminar on goal setting. For details see www.womeninanimation.org. Pamela is also available for personal consultations and speaking engagements.

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