For many people, the term ‘self-evaluation’ conjures up images of a dreaded sheet of paper that is thrust their way by HR during an annual job appraisal. It’s the chance, so the theory goes, for employees to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, but it can all too often be seen as an underhanded way of getting you to admit to your flaws (and, in turn, give bosses carte blanche to say “No” to your request for a pay rise).
In truth, many experts believe that self-evaluation can be really helpful for both employees and management (Business News Daily recently described it as “a great feedback tool that can keep employees on track.”) In which case, why not expand the concept to life in general?
If you want to be better at work, in love, with your well-being and everything else that you invest time and energy into, then why not take a look at where you are today so that you can find goals for the weeks and months ahead. Friday asked three experts for help.
Self evaluation... at work
“Most people only think about doing a self-analysis about their career progression when something is wrong,” says UAE-based life and career coach Zeta Yarwood (www.zetayarwood.com). “People generally come to me because they are experiencing some degree of ‘pain’ in their careers but they don’t know why or what to do about it.”
Zeta asserts that doing a self-analysis once every three to six months can help prevent us from getting to a stage where our careers become painful, allowing us to can make sure we stay on track with our goals. She suggests taking a holistic view of your work life, however. Rather than just honing in on one or two things, she puts forward multiple areas that should be thrust under the microscope:
✱ Job responsibilities
✱ People you work with – your colleagues, senior leadership team, direct boss and so on
✱ Career progression opportunities
✱ Working environment, both physically (as in what the office looks like) and culturally (e.g. is the working culture one of high stress and pressure?)
On top of this, she says you should also consider exactly how the job impacts the rest of your life. So consider:
✱ Emotional well-being
✱ Family time
✱ Commute/travel time
✱ Leisure/hobby time
✱ Financial goals
✱ Personal development/growth
As well as spending some time on the above lists, it also makes sense to consider your personal values. “These are the things that are most important to you in your career,’’ says Zeta. “The things that drive your career decisions.”
Example values could be: connection, leadership, innovation, respect, creativity, work-life balance, freedom, autonomy, travel, helping people, economic security and so on. On a piece of paper, start by writing down your top 7–10 values down the left hand side, then give each one a mark out of 10 in terms of how much you are experiencing that value in your current role.
Next, says Yarwood, ask yourself two questions – bearing in mind your values answers, plus all of those things you considered in the bulleted lists above. The first question is “What is working for me in my job right now?”
On a new piece of paper, write a list of all the things that are currently working for you in one column. “Create a second column and in that column give it a mark out of 10 in terms of how happy you are with it, and then in the third column, write how important is that to you out of 10,” says Zeta.
Now the second question: “What is not working for me in my job right now?” Simply do the same as you did when answering the first question: write down what’s not working for you, then give it marks out of 10 in terms of how happy you are with it (1 out of 10 would be ‘extremely unhappy’) and then in the third column, write how important it is to you on a scale of 1-10 (10 being extremely important’).
“Once you’re clear on your values and what’s most important to you then a certain degree of analysis needs to be done,” says Zeta, “the reason being that sometimes the values we have aren’t necessarily working for us.”
For example, if economic security was your highest-rated value, you might be running the risk of feeling trapped in a job you don’t enjoy purely because it pays well. It could be that the fear of not having financial security or the lure of having a certain lifestyle is actually causing you to put your health and happiness at risk. If you want something to change, then a change of priorities is in order, asserts Zeta.
“When you can see what you’re happy with and not happy with, you can then assess whether or not it’s something you want to do something about. You might not like something but if it’s actually not that important to you, you might want to spend your energies focusing on creating change elsewhere.”
Once you know what you want to change, you can take the steps to make it happen – whether that means speaking to your boss to ask how you can move up the ladder, finding ways to add more fun to your job or spending more time nurturing relationships in the office.
“If you don’t do this you’re running the risk of your company or external forces directing your career, instead of you directing it,” sums up Yarwood. “You could miss out on opportunities either internally or externally that are great for you simply because you weren’t looking for them.”
Self evaluation... in love
When your love life isn’t going the way you would like it to, it’s often because you’ve slipped into a familiar pattern, says Lisa Laws, a life, professional and relationship coach based in the UAE (www.lisalawscoaching.com). “If we get into self-analysis we might actually be able to change some of those patterns and create more of what we want,” she says.
Lisa says she generally advises people who come to see her to talk about their love life to come up with a list of 70 or so things that they would like in a partner – anything from broad-shoulders to intelligence – and, on a separate sheet of paper, what their personal “deal breakers” are: those things that would be an absolute no-no if someone presented with them, such as they live in Australia and you live in Dubai.
“If we don’t have this list, what we tend to do is jump in and ignore our gut feelings – then months or years later we find ourselves going, ‘Ugh! Another unavailable man,’ or, ‘Oh no! Another narcissist,’” says Lisa.
Self-evaluating shows you what you want, she says, and it is the first step in taking more responsibility for your relationships. “When we take things back to their roots, we often realise that we’ve done something or we’ve shown up in a relationship in a way that actually isn’t going to give us what we want,” says Lisa. “What we like to do – in all walks of life – is point the finger and blame others. Self-analysis, though, is an opportunity to have a look at who you are being and how that might be attracting something you don’t really want.”
Once you can clearly see what you want in a relationship, you might be presented with some ideas about how you can change in order to get it:
✱ If you want someone who is successful and motivational, you might be inspired to launch your own business or start networking in entrepreneurial circles.
✱ If you want someone fit and sporty, it might be just the impetus you need to take up tennis or join a team.
✱ If having kids is a clear priority, maybe continually hitting it off with career-minded members of the opposite sex in their late 20s is actually not such a great idea.
As Lisa puts it: “Ask who you need to be in order attract the ideal person on your list.”
Sitting down and doing a self-evaluation if you are already in a relationship can be especially revealing – though it could also be painful. If the person opposite you is no longer someone you want to be with, Lisa says it may be in everyone’s interest to think about moving on – but points out that it is worth having a conversation with your partner before doing anything drastic because it could be that they say, “Well, of course I never help out around the house because you’re such a control freak and you change everything I do!”
“Those are areas you could both work on together,” says Lisa. “If both of you are on board for change, then have a look at that. That’s actually the bravest and most courageous thing to do; to actually change in a relationship can be absolutely amazing and create a much deeper love than just moving onto the next person and perhaps repeating the same pattern.”
Self evaluation... in you
With business and love taken care of, you might wonder what’s left, but the fact is that you personally deserve an in-depth analysis from time to time. Life coach Elisabetta Franzoso (www.elisabettafranzoso.com) says says that when doing a thorough self-evaluation, it’s especially important to consider body, mind and other aspects of wellness, and that your checklist should include everything from nutrition to thoughts and feelings. “It’s also important to consider the quality and amount of sleep you’re getting and how much time you dedicate to playing and relaxing,” she says.
Elisabetta argues that many people aren’t taught the importance of wellness (often defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”), and because of this they are ill-equipped to evaluate, improve and track their progress in this area. “Aspects such as breathing and thinking seem so minor in relation to our other daily stressors, plus we often prioritise things that offer immediate gratification or have a ‘bigger impact’,” says Elisabetta. “When we evaluate the ‘smaller’ aspects in our life, we can improve our foundations and strengthen our resilience through our improved personal well-being. This inevitably filters into the rest of our lives and improves the aspects that we feel are of more significance.”
Elisabetta says one easy way to run a self-assessment in this field is to use a tool called the Wellness Wheel Inventory, which can be found at www.wellpeople.com – although it does require a subscription costing USD $39.95. Keeping a journal which covers such things as self-responsibility and love, breathing, sensing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing and working, communicating and intimacy is also a good way to begin.
Elisabetta suggests asking:
✱ What’s life all about?
✱ Why am I here?
✱ What am I doing with my life?
✱ What increases my enjoyment of life?
“Try not to be judgemental or censor yourself, as there is no wrong answer, says Elisabetta. “We know what we need the most when we’re able to let go of fear, resistance and attachment to the status quo. With this awareness you can begin choosing small actions and practices during your day in order to slowly but steadily improve the ones that are most important to you.”