I know, I know: We're already 3 weeks into the new year, what's this talk about looking back? Everyone is talking about looking forward and focusing on the future! Well, guess what: It's never too late to look back. It's actually really important to do so, because only when reflecting upon times past it's possible for us to draw conclusions for the future. Which is why it's important to wait for a few weeks until you confront yourself, because you need that distance. You need to have arrived - firmly planted with both feets - in the new year, you need to have let go of the past year in order to review it honestly. And because as a freelancer or solopreneur, you are the only person involved in this process, being honest is the most important part of it. Without honesty, you don't even need to bother going through it at all.
I've talked about doing appraisal interviews with myself before, but I never really went into a lot of detail on how I do them exactly. To me, there's two kinds of appraisals you can do as a freelancer: You can either focus on the hard facts, the numbers and hours, cost and revenue - or you can take a slightly softer approach and try to find out more about the "why", "how" and "what" that made up your business in 2015. Both hold valuable insights, but I always feel more confident and satisfied when finishing the second kind of appraisal. Sometimes, you can look at numbers all you want - you need to address those feelings in your gut if you want to know how your year really went and what all that means for your next year.
After doing this exercise - which consists of 10 questions - you will know a lot more about how your past year went. You will have addressed your highs and lows, your most and least favorite clients and projects, your biggest challenge and your main sources of inspiration. All this is vital information you need when thinking about 2016, simply because it a. gives you a place to start and b. lays the necessary groundwork for everything you want to change, achieve or keep on doing. We need to know about the current state of things in order to set us up for future plans. So consider this your personal "State of the Union" address: on yourself, on your business, your work.