Running: Why a midyear performance review is a good idea

Mary Jennings: A short pause now can stop us from continuing down a path we no longer wish to follow

As someone who escaped the corporate world over a decade ago, one thing I certainly don’t miss is the midyear performance review. I cringed every time I had to go through that process of discussing my career goals, progress and the dreaded constructive feedback with my manager. So much time went into these reviews, from the procrastination to the preparation, but I don’t think I ever appreciated what good actually came from them. In hindsight, they certainly helped me carve out my own individual career path and vision for my future.

More than just work goals

As we mark the exact midpoint of the year, many of you are going through this exact process with managers and colleagues, identifying highlights and learning points from your working year to date. Businesses claim one of the huge benefits of the exercise is to help individuals grow and flourish at work. But imagine if we took that enthusiasm and responsibility to our own wellness and had a regular check-in and pep talk with ourselves to see how our health goals are progressing. There is no reason we can’t all give it a go. But when we are not accountable to a boss or a coach, it is very easy to put it on the long finger.

How quickly we forget

We are often very good at setting lofty new year resolutions, but now as we are exactly half way through the year, will you join me for a midyear review for your body, not your work? Taking stock now is a great chance to pause and remind ourselves of what has happened so far this year, as well as what we have achieved, learned and experienced. Those new year resolutions can be dusted off to remind us what we promised ourselves and we can look forward to the next six months with a better idea of what is realistic and possible now. The main problem for most people is that they have completely forgotten most of the detail of the past six months. Scroll through your photos or look over your old calendar entries if you need a refresher.

A pause to reflect

Whether you feel you have had a successful six months or not, this is a great exercise. In fact, it might be even more valuable if you have had a few setbacks or are struggling to find some positives. This task is not a tool to beat yourself up about what you have not done, but more an objective look at where you are now and where you are choosing to focus your attention for the next season. It’s so easy to float through summer and rush into the busy season of autumn again. A short pause now can stop us from continuing down a path we no longer wish to follow. When we are reminded of what is important to us, we are more likely to see the opportunities and also the distractions that are stealing our focus.

How to approach the task

First step, take a notebook, a coffee and 30 minutes to yourself. I know you are too busy for such luxury, but trust me. It’s an investment in your future and it will pay off. While most of the people I coach like to run, I tend to focus on reviewing the full circle of health, with running goals only being one element. If we don’t feel good, we are less likely to run. I ask those I coach to look at this list of healthy words and see which ones stand out for them over the past six months. You don’t need to use this list, but it is a good start: hydration, nutrition, strength, mobility, community, stress, motivation, routine, sleep, mindset, rest, time outdoors, volunteering, friendships, movement.

Find something to celebrate

If we can focus on what we have done, rather than what we haven’t, we are more likely to see our progress as positive, rather than give up on a dream or a goal. It takes practice, and as a nation we do find it hard to celebrate ourselves. But make a list of all that did happen, even if you never share it with anyone, to show you how much you have done and what you have overcome to be where you are right now. Think about what you can celebrate in the areas of health that are important to you. I’m sure you will spot things you can improve, but the initial task is to appreciate what we have achieved rather than look for the holes. Even when we have been incredibly successful, it is so easy to move right on to the next goal without giving ourselves time to reflect, celebrate and actually enjoy the achievements. So let’s pat ourselves on the back first.

Look to the future

By appreciating what we have achieved and learned whatever this year has thrown at us to date, we can be optimistic about what we can accomplish in the future. The next step is to use the same list as above to choose a few elements that you wish to dedicate time to over the next six months. How do you want to feel by the end of the year? What needs to change to make this happen? While it is nice to create a vision of the person you will be by Christmas, it can be difficult to look so far into the future. I tend to break up my goals into two sections: summer holidays and then autumn/winter, as they have very different routines for me. Maybe you want to address the whole six months in one go, or take it month by month.

It is worth the effort

If you wish you had kept more notes from earlier this year, promise yourself from now on you will do a mini check-in each month to jot down a few highlights. This works so well in our running community as we only need to look through these monthly highlights to consolidate six months of runs and walks, ups and downs. If we measure our success only by what we achieve in our work, it is very easy for our own health to suffer. We can’t control all that might happen in the next six months, but if we keep our eyes focused on the healthy paths we wish to follow and check our roadmap each month to make sure we are still on track, who knows were we may end up by year end. We may even find a new and exciting path we never even knew existed.

Mary Jennings is founder and running coach at forgetthegym.ie. Her summer and autumn programmes are now open for booking

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