Setting up my own consulting business was hugely liberating for me. I love the variety of working with lots of different clients on a diverse range of projects. I spend most of my time troubleshooting or writing. Suits me down to the ground. Also, after 20 years in large companies I was delighted to shed the systems and process that left me cold – the prescribed annual performance review cycle being one of them.

Three years in, I now realise I may have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater on the annual reviews.

Stepping back, at least once a year, to review where you are at and where you are going is healthy. It is something I’ve struggled to prioritise as it always seems to fall into the ‘important but not urgent’ list. Turns out I do need the rigour and discipline of an annual review process.

I entered the Network Ireland Business Woman on the Year Awards for the first time last year and did so again this year. Completing the application form really forced me to think about what’s working and what I need to focus on/improve. It’s my new annual performance review, but without all the performance management trimmings (competency frameworks, 9-box grid, forced distribution etc) that made my heart sink.

So as award season rolls around again, whether you are an employee or self-employed, I’d highly recommend you find an Award programme that suits you. The application process takes times, but the questions encourage a rounded reflection of where you are at and may well drive you forward in your career.

Of course the award application gets judged against your peers. It is useful to get an objective view of where you are in your peer group and through lists of nominees perhaps identify like-minded people you can connect with and grow your network. If you get shortlisted or indeed win, then that’s a bonus.

And yes, I got shortlisted in the Network Ireland Awards this year. Thrilled and delighted. Well done to everyone who entered and best of luck to all the finalists.