Because it does!
In this article, I will discuss self evaluation and why I think it’s a useful tool for improving life.
In a previous post of mine, Action and Iteration, I explain the necessity of taking action and adjusting based on the feedback. This process is actually fairly intuitive, and we’re doing some variation of it constantly. A broad example would be taking action, being satisfied with the results, and concluding you have no reason to change anything. Obviously this variation doesn’t result in change, but it follows the same thought process.
When we find something that works for us, we make it our default. For example: If I need an oil change for my car. I have a place. It’s close, convenient, and has done a good job in the past. Since my last experience satisfied my expectations and I’ve begun to build trust with them, I’m most likely to choose them next time I need oil. They are my default.
An important point to note is that we’re more likely to adapt than we are to change. This is in part because adapting or settling takes minimal effort where as changing something requires significantly more effort – at least to get started.
This is the first reason why I think self evaluation is important – because it’s easy to fall into patterns that can override your feedback loops. So even if you’re receiving negative feedback and signals to change, you might be on auto-pilot and not notice. Over time you might have adapted to things that you would really rather change.
Especially if it’s just a little nuisances, because these can accumulate and become silent killers.
There are many different ways to go about doing a comprehensive self evaluation. Some people like yearly reviews, some monthly, some weekly. Some prefer extensive reviews that encompass as many factors and metrics as possible, some may only track whatever is most important to them. As with everything else in life, some people prefer the extremes, but most of us will fall somewhere in the middle.
If you are interesting in an ultra deep dive into every aspect of your life, I have just the guide for you. It’s created by Alex Vermeer and it is the most comprehensive life overview / self evaluation guides I’ve seen and it’s 100% free. You can find it on his site here: https://alexvermeer.com/8760hours/ .
That being said, the following is a short self evaluation I do every couple months to track some general metrics and questions that I find valuable:
Self evaluation – I give each category a 0-10 rating and add any additional notes or categories as I see fit. Do whatever works best for you.
- Love life(Significant other):
- What does my average day look like?
- What do I look most forward to each week?
- How have I been feeling lately in general?
- What is something that I want to change?
- What matters to me?
- What am I working towards?
- Are my actions consistent with my beliefs?
- What is my favorite hobby at the moment?
It’s nothing crazy, but answering these questions helps me notice trends, find weaknesses, and make positive changes in my life.
One thing that I’ve intentionally worked on over the past year is pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve formed some good habits and broken some bad ones. I’ve done a lot of scary things – things that I didn’t think I could. I’ve experimented with different routines, diets, and ways of thinking. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and did my fair share of failing. That’s all been great. But in the process of trying a bunch of new things and forming a bunch of new habits I started losing track of what’s what. With all the overlapping, I couldn’t track which new habits were beneficial and which ones were wasting my energy.
This is why I started focusing on fewer, but more important changes in my life. This allowed me to better understand which changes are tied to what benefits and helps me better pin point certain issues. I realized that it’s possible to start with one thing you love and then adding on more and more things that you love until your schedule is too much to handle and somehow 7 loves turn into stress and frustration. Similar to the concept of ‘three rights make a left’.
Another pitfall to watch out for is what I call compounding nuisances. Compounding nuisances describe the little things that bug you and what can happen if they start to pile up. In our relationships we often make certain compromises and this will result in us ignoring nuisances and letting certain things slide. This is totally reasonable and I think all relationships have this to some extent. Problems can arise however when there are too many nuisances or the frequency becomes too high. Most people I know don’t want to call others out. They would rather not say anything and just let it slide. This can work, but sometimes it results in disaster. They let things chip away at them until they just snap. One minor offensive can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. From the other person’s perspective though, they just lost their mind over some little thing. But in reality, this was the result of days, weeks, or months of repression. Speaking up and telling people directly how you feel can help prevent this. Everyone has their quirks, no worries. It’s personal and is going to be unique to the individuals and their relationship, but at some point things start to add up. There’s always a limit.
These are the reasons why I think it’s important to go through periodically and do a sort of mental inventory of what’s going on and why. Acknowledging that there is something to be fixed is the first step in fixing things. Don’t be afraid to do it. Maybe you think that having things in need a fixing implies being broken. It doesn’t. Seeking out and trying to grow signifies growth and strength. Everybody has their set of issues. No one is perfect. Focus on trying to be just a little bit better every day. Even just trying will put you miles ahead of those who aren’t willing to.
What type of self evaluation works best for you? Will you consider doing one now? What’s one thing you can do today to be slightly better than you were yesterday? Have a great day.