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Performance Reviews in Life
Evaluating the good, bad and ugly outside of the workplace
I recently completed my first year-end performance review at my new job that included a self-evaluation, a 360 peer review, and the traditional grading and feedback from management.
I view the process as a good time to reflect, evaluate the last ~6 months of my performance, and think about how to improve moving forward. It’s a forced break from getting bogged down in the day-to-day activities of your role and instead turns your attention to your higher-level career performance, growth and trajectory.
This got me thinking - why don’t we do performance reviews in life?
Particularly given how riddled with anxiety our generation is, a LPR (Life Performance Review) could be extremely valuable. Many people (including me at times) are constantly questioning their actions, evaluating themselves in their own minds, and wondering how others perceive them in this world. Sure, the end goal might be “don’t care what others think” but that is much easier said than done. The world is also built for us to get caught up in day-to-day life without ever stopping to understand the path we’re on, whether it aligns with our values, and whether or not we’re satisfied with the choices we’ve made.
Instead, imagine twice a year you created your own little HR department for your life. If I were to suggest a framework for a LPR, it would look something like this:
Frequency: Every six months - this would allow enough time to make proper reflections on your past actions, while also allowing time to initiate difficult habit changes and have them stick.
Section 1: Self-Reflection
This is the process of evaluating your past six months - and your current state - on categories that are important to you. An example of my rubric might look like this:
Financial - every six months seems like a reasonable cadence to evaluate my financial planning, where my spending habits are trending, and identifying areas for improvement.
How much did you save over the past six months?
What areas of spend did you remove vs. add?
Did you have any side hustle successes?
How much effort did you put towards investments and building wealth?
On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your financial decisions?
What are three small costs you could remove from your life in the next six months?
Relationships - it’s important to me to spend time with the people that are most important to me. It’s easy to get caught in the hustle of a busy life and realize you haven’t picked up the phone to call a family member in a while, haven’t visited a good friend despite being on many other trips, or have neglected your partner in some aspect. Taking time to reflect on those relationships ensures you don’t continue living blindly in the simulation, and allows you to feel in control of your actions.
What are some relationships that have improved in the past six months due to your initiative?
What relationships do you need to invest in over the next six months?
What was your frequency of calls / texts / FaceTimes over the past six months to your immediate family members?
How many people can you call in case of an emergency?
Who was involved in your most memorable experiences from the past six months? Would these people fall into the category of the most important people in your life? How do you align your time allocation with the relationships you seek to build?
Work - in the LPR, this category shouldn’t overlap with the actual performance review you go through at work. Instead, I would focus on how your work fits in with the rest of your life.
Do you feel energized in life as a result of the work you choose to do?
What are some of the benefits of your work routine on the rest of your life?
What changes would you make to your work arrangement that could positively impact other areas of your life?
Do you feel as though you grew professionally in the last six months?
How correlated is your happiness at work and your overall happiness? E.g., can you feel happy in life after a bad day or week or month at work?
Health and Wellness
Are you satisfied with how much sleep you got over the past six months? What small steps can you take to incrementally improve your sleep?
On a scale of 1-10, how healthy did you eat? What barriers to a healthy diet did you experience / create?
How satisfied are you with your current physical condition?
What health achievements did you experience over the past six months? Where did you fall short?
Section 2: Peer Review
This section would mirror the “Relationships” section above, but would be filled out by people you genuinely care about. It would be nice to get a sense of how others perceive you (similar to receiving a 360 review from your peers, team members and manager at work).
This would ensure you’re not bull-shitting yourself in the self-reflection and would provide a reality check from multiple perspectives. It should be an open and honest evaluation from no more than 10 people. I would limit it to partners, parents, siblings, and very close friends with whom my relationship is extremely important.
I’d ask them to evaluate me on how much I currently invest in the relationship, whether they experience positive or negative vibes from me (nobody likes a friend who always complains), and whether they feel adequately supported by me. It would also be interesting to get a sense for how I accept feedback from them. Especially as I’ve grown older, I’ve recognized the tendency to avoid change and sometimes even avoid listening to other perspectives. This is a very bad sign, so I’d like to understand if others notice something similar.
A final note about this section is that you could create a scoring scale to make it more quantitative, and you could also offer the option to have submissions be anonymous (create a Google form or something like that) to ensure you receive candid reviews.
Section 3: Goals and Habits
After completing the first two sections, I would create 2 - 4 goals for myself to check-in on six months later. What’s important is that each goal is accompanied by a practical habit that becomes the true underlying goal for the next six months. For example, my goal might be to drink less alcohol. The habit I would setup would be to change the environment by, for example, filling my water bottle up every hour or placing beer bottles at the back of the fridge, out of sight. Small actions that can have major positive impact to ultimately reach your end goal.
How would you create your LPR? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!