You may have been so busy this year you hadn’t noticed that you are at the mid-year mark. Now that the year is half over, consider setting aside time for your personal life evaluation. As an employee you probably get evaluated, receive feedback from bosses and/or peers and set new goals for your job or career. Why not do so for your personal life?
This is a perfect time to do a personal self-evaluation and then create and welcome new practices. If this is your first time doing a personal evaluation, that can be your new practice; it will yield some potential for growth that will offer long-term benefits. Because evaluations do take time, it’s okay to start by devoting just 3 to 4 hours of your time to this new practice. Make a personal appointment with “self”, just as you would when planning a meeting with a friend. Your “self” time is crucial because you are worth it, and your time is precious.
First, identify that block of 3 to 4 hours you need in your schedule. Label it “My Personal Self Evaluation” or “My Mid-Year Assessment”. This time can be in a comfortable place at home out on your patio or in the backyard with your favorite drink, in the company of birds and nature. Or, if you prefer, you can go to a coffee shop that is comfortable to work in and free of distractions. Perhaps you are a morning person and focus best during this time. Maybe the evening is your time to get things done. Choose the time and place when/where you can focus on this activity.
You might begin your self-evaluation with a 5-minute intentional meditation to calm your mind and chase away any racing thoughts. Now, with calendar in hand, notice what you spent most of your time on during the first part of the year. How satisfied do you feel about what you notice? How much value did each activity have and what were some of the rewards? Was time devoted just to you included anywhere? If you don’t see “you” anywhere on your calendar, how about keeping that on the top of your list of new practices to adopt?
A GOOD STARTING POINT FOR SELF-EVALUATION
See this as a positive self-assessment and get excited about it! The following six action steps can guide you through this process.
SELF-EVALUATION ACTION STEPS
- Describe. Describe yourself as fully and completely as possible with respect to personality traits, goals, plans, relationships, or whatever else comes to mind. Record this self-description in writing in a document you can refer to in the future.
- Reflect. Develop some questions to help you with reflection. You might ask yourself, “How has this first half of the year gone for me?” “What has gone well?” “What needs improvement and what will make it better?” “What would I like to change?” Through this process you become aware of personal shortcomings, memorable accomplishments and personal values. As these come up, be prepared to record them in writing.
- Create. Create your new goals. One or two may be sufficient. From personal experience, I have found that, when I add too much to my schedule or create an unrealistic number of goals, I can usually only focus on one at a time. Remember that realistic progress comes one step at a time. Also remember that some of your new goals may require resources in order for you to realize them.
- Find Required Resources. What resources do you have or can find to support your new goals? Will the changes you want to make require financing, help from other people, transportation, specific time on your calendar, or other kinds of support? In essence, what will you need to integrate the change(s) into the second half of the year? According to the British Journal of Health and Psychology, the “pursuit of a particular goal implies resource (e.g., time, energy, money) consumption that may leave fewer resources available for the remainder of the goals the individual may be actively pursuing.”
- Meditate. Visualize achieving your goals in meditation. What will your life look like in the second half of this year? This is personal for you. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. “What makes language so valuable for thinking cannot be thinking in words. It must be the help that words lend to thinking while it operates in a more appropriate medium such as visual imagery.” (Arnheim, 1971, p. 231). According to Chan and Cameron (2012), brief imagery exercises have been shown to promote goal-related behavior and improve performance.
- Integrate. It is time to fold this new vision into your day-to-day life. Schedule time to re-assess this new practice (these new practices) at the beginning of the new calendar year, which is actually only a few months away.
Look at that: You are right on time!
Making self-assessment a regular practice is a good habit to establish. As you go through life, you will find that you will develop many new interests, and regular self-evaluation can help you continuously prioritize the new interests and assign them a place in your daily life.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and meditation and how both can help with you, contact me via email.
Arnheim R (1971): Visual thinking. Berkeley: University of California Press
Chan, C. K. Y., & Cameron, L. D. (June 01, 2012). Promoting physical activity with goal-oriented mental imagery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35, 3, 347-363.
Vallacher, R. R., Nowak, A., Froehlich, M., & Rockloff, M. (2002). The Dynamics of Self-Evaluation. Personality & Social Psychology Review (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), 6(4), 370-379.
Smith, C. M. (2008). Visual Thinking and Neuroscience. Journal Of The History Of The Neurosciences, 17(3), 260-273.
With a little help from my goals: Integrating intergoal facilitation with the theory of planned behaviour to predict physical activity. (2010). British Journal of Health Psychology, 15(4), 905-919.