Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Personal Performance Review?

Maybe that is what this is. Between these screens and the pages in my journal, a constant attempt to evaluate myself. Let's face it - I am not a line of work that provides me periodic performance reviews, so I have to do it myself.

I suppose I do not HAVE to, but it's sure hard to tell if you are getting anywhere without trying. That is why, over the free time I have at the holidays (in other words, self-imposed suspensions from working on projects that do not have set hours, ie, pretty much everything important I am doing), I intend to evaluate my progress, new skills, goals, etc. I'd like to know what I have accomplished in the last year. It has become hard to tell when the to-do lists I keep are electronic, and deleted week by week. This seems like something I am going to have to change if I want to properly track progress. I had the fleeting thought of trying to switch back to a paper calendar as well, but I think I have decided against it. The crucial tracking is all in the tasks. Fortunately, a plan has been laid to track Rhythmically Speaking hours, but I put that plan in place in late September and have, to this point, not been so awesome at using it or being diligent with it. Now that everything in that arena is solidifying, I suppose it is time to get serious about that.

Another reality - most of this is in prep for creating my yearly batch of New Years Resolutions. Yes, some find these lame and overdone, but for me, they ARE that personal performance review I am referencing, Because so much of my work crosses over into the personal arena (I think this is true for most artists), it is crucial to take time for personal evaluation. I look forward to putting these resolutions every year, because it forces me to slow down and reflect rather than bulldoze forward. The fact that I have not posted a substantial entry to this blog since September is decent evidence of the bulldozing. And indeed, I know myself well enough to know that if I do not take the time for this kind of reflection, the direction and objects I am bulldozing may not even contribute to the overall path I have set for myself as desireable. That being said, I suppose the obvious answer is to allow myself time to use this tool. In the past, I have been pretty good with prioritizing this. The period of time I was best was certainly when I was in Canada, as I had a surplus of time and a practical deficit of money. In the Spring and Summer of this year, money was at slight surplus, and time was in extreme deficit. Now, I definitely have more time than I did in the Spring and Summer (by carefully calculated choice), but money is borderline.

The two great factors in dictating earthly choices. Sometimes I hate this, because it feels so binding, and other times, I think it awesome because it encourages prioritization and creative thinking (both of which I could use more). It seems like this is a pattern I will fight with for quite some time, at least as long as I continue to forge the Dance Artist pathway. In the mean time (as I have no intention of jumping ship from that pursuit for the forseeable future), I have just been trying to focus my 'job' energy on making each hour pay a little better. Trying to take on more teaching, finished my personal trainers certification (yes, I am no ACE certified!) in hopes of using that for daytime teaching and even hourly options at a YMCA, intending to search for sering opportunities in the new year. The last option will likely need to wait until mid to late spring, as patios will be opening and restaurants will hopefully be hiring. I have come beyond the need for the people I am working with to know I am intelligent - where it matters most (dance pursuits), they know this. However, I feel like landing work in a gym will help with concerns in this area. In the midst of this flurry of thoughts, the most immediate goal is the idea of 'making each hour pay better.' This way, I can keep the amount of 'job' hours low and the amount of 'work' (dance) hours up.

Wow, there is a whole lot going on in this brain. The theory is that if I dump it out now, focusing on all the other things I am to work on this afternoon will be much easier. This theory generally works.

Intended actions of this 'Personal Performance Review' I intend to undergo in a couple weeks;
- Taking inventory of ALL the things I have accomplished in 2010.
- Writing an email to go with Christmas cards to the people who influence me as a dancer, outlining what I have been up to and how they have helped.
- Writing a detailed 'Take 10,' an idea I took from a book called 'Brag: How to Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.' Sadly but truly, many talented and wonderful people do not know how to talk about themselves without feeling guilty.
- Assessing my personal mission statement, an idea I got from the book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.' Wow, I feel like I am being paid to advertise self-help books. Also, Kris is in business school and they spend a bunch of time teaching them about such things, and I believe it is rubbing off on me. In a good way. There sure isn't anything wrong with being aware of how you spend your time and how to best spend it, particularly where busy-to-the-core artists are concerned. DO NOT BE AFRAID of mainstream 'business strategy' and 'personal guidance' books. DO NOT BE AFRAID!!!!
- Assessing the goals and plan that go along with this mission statement (including key information and contacts. I guess this is a five year plan of sorts, but the first time I tried making one of these, I went ape-shit and made a detailed excel documents with exact times. Fortunately, I have amazing, insightful friends (Kim M, Kim W, Sarah, Kris) to help me see when I am blinding myself).

As a result of this personal performance review, I want to take everything I get out of it to;
- Re-write Mission Statement
- Re-write Goals
- Write my New Years Resolutions
- Re-write my resumes (dance and work)
- Re-write the language on my website, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Blog profile - basically anything public that provides a scope of who I am as a professional

Other ideas? They are welcomed. As I am totally serious about there being no one else to provide me a performance review, I really want this to be worth it, and suggestions from trusted friends would only help!

I thinking of all this, one of the things I am most excited about is taking inventory of all the things I accomplished over the year. To me, this is more than meeting work-related goals, but includes all the fun times and adventures. I have to admit that even though I consider myself very self-confident and aware, I can get down on myself, questioning whether or not I really have accomplished anything or done anything to the level of excitement of which I expect for myself. In thinking about the last year, in turns out, it really isn't hard to being a list;
- BellaVida
- Winnipeg Folk Fest
- Another successful year of Rhythmically Speaking
- Rhythmically Speaking becoming a Fiscal Sponsor of Springboard for the Arts
- Completing a successful Rhythmically Speaking GiveMN Campaign
- Forming a Rhythmically Speaking board, complete with Zoe Sealy, a long-respected member of the dance community
- Renting the Southern for next year's RS Show
- Substitute teaching for Karla Grotting at the U and for her advance BALLARE class
- Performing with Eclectic Edge (Karis Sloss and Zoe Sealy), Karla Grotting/Jeffrey Peterson/ Jennifer Glaws for Rhythmically, Lisa Conlin, Kelly Radermacher for Fringe Festival
- Laying plans to perform with Off-Leash Area for 2011
- Choreographing/ presenting 4 different works ("Catious Conscience" - Performed Jan at Patrick's, "I Can't Ignore You" - performed March at 9 x 22, "Did I Do That?" - Created, Peformed August at Bedlam and December at Patrick's, "Arguegreement" - Created, Performed at Zenon Scholarship show Dec)
- Collaborating with Dameun Strange, composer, on a new music and dance project
- Applying for the Momentum Grant
- Applying for a Jerome Travel Grant
- Applying for the Live Music for Dance Minnesota Grant
- Serving on an MRAC panel
- Undergoing voice lessons, getting my voice back in shape and having a song prepped for auditions
- Worked at the State Fair for 4H once more, making my paid service there total 6 years
- Worked as Booking Assistant for Bedlam Theatre, gathering new skills, assisting an organization I care about and making great new artistic connections
- Passing the test and becoming an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer
- Joining the YMCA and learning about exercise science and habits, furthering my own personal fitness and nutrition
- Passing the three-year mark in a wonderful relationship
- Gogol Bordello
- Pretty Lights
- Lotus
- Tab Benoit
- Planning and Executing Otto's Suprise Gradutirement Party
- Planning and Executing the Clogger Holiday Show
- Many memorable clogger gigs (Fergus Falls, St. Peter, Big Island)
- Hanson (and buying Sarah's ticket for her birthday!)
- Choreographing for Arts-In
- Teaching Youth Jazz class for Zenon in the spring
- Becoming confident in subbing abilities by subbing throughout the metro all year

This is a pretty decent list, and it ain't over yet! I guess the moral here is that accomplishment is all a matter of perspective.

Now I am really amped for this 'Personal Performance Review.' Reflection, here I come!


Bo said...

Awesome list! Glad to see Bella Vida up on the top;) You are by far my most ambitious and crazy friend Leibs. While you're revising and planning and rewriting your life, don't forget to focus on the positives, the things you don't want to change. You have an amazing life. Don't get too caught up with future plans and lists of the past, remember to love the moment you are in right now, because if you forget about the now, the past and the future tend to lose their meaning.
Love you!!!

Ginny the Sock Monkey said...

Whew! Reading this made me feel like I ran a marathon with you! What a crazy year. You are always so on top of things and you also inspire me to be concious while I live my life. I gotta say, I feel blessed to know a hard-working, motivated, smart, gorgeous woman like you.

Happy New Year, and here's to hoping I see you again soon!

Адам said...

A good marathon indeed! The level of energy you put into life and development is both awe-inspiring and intimidating. Revv it uppppp!!

"The fact that I have not posted a substantial entry to this blog since September is decent evidence of the bulldozing. And indeed, I know myself well enough to know that if I do not take the time for this kind of reflection, the direction and objects I am bulldozing may not even contribute to the overall path I have set for myself as desireable."

Word-and-dot. I'm right with you on that. I literally get jittery if I have to wait for a bus more than eight minutes, thinking about all of the other things that are screaming their need to be accomplished so that I can move on to do other things that I would simply like to be accomplished. Something that crossed my mind lately is the need for more meditation.. not just dozing off and having an entirely empty mind, but not sitting and thinking intensely either.. somewhere in-between that allows you to lift up a bit above the scene and simply survey. A Waking Life-esque pan-over, then back past the treetops and working from the ground. I'm very impressed and proud that you have been able to keep up the New Year's review and am excited to read it!

Job vs work.. good point -- one of these is enjoyable!

As per ideas, maybe you could inventory not only things you did do, but also those you felt are/were important and got lost in the jumble. These could get special priority for everything ahead, but they could also de-rail other things you have picked up in the meantime.. in any case, things shift and transform, so it might be interesting just to see where and why some things fell away, but where other picked up in their place and might have been even more rewarding. Take a moment and raise a pint to the lost ideas and fancies, then pour another pint for the ones that came to fruition and led to more awesomeness!

Another set of accomplishments that might be worth documenting separately is a list of purely creative ones as well - i.e. pieces you have choreographed, have danced in and enjoyed/felt were lacking and thus keeping track of your creato-artistic development. Bit more abstract, but at least you will be prepped for your next conversation with über-artists in some dimly-lit smoky environment with wine and shutters on the windows. Just. Like. That.