Self-assessment is a huge part of growth. And this isn’t just in our careers. Having a good sense of what we’re amazing at and where we want to go affects all aspects of our lives. Resist the urge to confine your self-assessment and goal setting exclusively to your 9-5. Taking a wider scope will ironically improve our career planning, but also bring more all around joy.
When Should You Check In With Yourself?
Well, now is a pretty good time! Has it been a while since you’ve had a life milestone to do some reflection or self-assessment? Break out a new journal for some inspiration and block out a few times for some self-care that is a little more analytic. We may periodically do pieces of this, but in combination, marching through all of these categories can give a really well-rounded view to our self-awareness.
Whatever you come away with from this exercise is likely to change over time and based on our own life journey so it’s useful to do periodically. The rush of New Year’s goals or resolutions is the wrong vibe for what we’re after in this exercise. (It can feel al little too targeted and short-term.) Save this exercise for a winter Sunday where you’re hibernating or a lazy summer afternoon.
Different Ways to Self-Assess
Do you know your personality type? If you’ve never taken one of the common personality tests, this is a great place to start some self-assessment and reflection. While not a silver bullet to self-understanding, it is a pretty great way to build awareness.
If you’re considering going back to school or are at a career fork-in-the-road, these are an objective way to get some insights into how you approach the world. It can also help with useful frameworks over social interactions. Myers-Briggs and Enneagram are common, but there are a number of tools out there that you can use to assess your strengths and personality features.
What is truly important to you? Not important to achieve. Not important perks of a job. But what are the characteristics in other people and in the world that are important for you to create and experience? Periodically walking back to this fundamental level of values is helpful to reconnect you with our core purpose that can drive all aspects of our lives.
Buzz through a list of core values for some inspiration. Which of these speak to you? How do you see them showing up in your life?
What are you great at? Are you super intellectual? Great at organizing? Have a knack for understanding how things work? Break down a few of the things that you are excellent at, and what makes your personal brand special.
Another way to think of this self-assessment is asking why people pay you, praise you, or pick you. What could you still be working on? What are things that you are not good at, and have no need or intention to get better at? It’s OK to have those too! Knowing the skills or personality traits that you’re not best at give you more mental bandwidth to go from good to exceptional on your natural inclinations.
Things That Bring Joy
This category aligns a little more with our hobbies. The brilliant Marie Kondo gave us this phraseology, but things that bring joy go beyond organization. Write out a narrative of your perfect day. Who is there with you? Or is that a day to yourself? What activities are you doing? (Or not!)
The idea here is to release ourselves from the narrative of what we think we should love doing. This isn’t about crafting the “perfect” looking list of hobbies, but tuning in to what actually brings us joy. Think about the ways you recharge or connect with others. This part of the self-assessment is a place you’ll keep coming back to as a refuge as you work through other goals. It can also create the mission behind tough days at work or school.
For example, on tough days reminding you that your job gives you the resources to travel and experience new cultures with your loved one or family can be the little flame of joy that pushes you through.
So What Next?
Ask For Tough Feedback
All of this assessment is self-generated, so the next steps can be to add some feedback from others that you trust. Ask a mentor what they think your best work traits are and where you could still use some development. Ask a loved one when they experience you as your happiest at home or on the weekends. Your boss can identify when you seem “in your element” at work and where you might have some opportunities to grow. Adding in this third party perspective rounds out the way you think about who you are and where you’re going.
Tie These Results to Life Goals
So what does this mean in the big picture? Since we’ve started this exercise trying to keep it separate from our life goals, the last step is to return to tying it all together. Are you in a job where the tasks are tied to things you’re actually good at and enjoy doing? Do you know how aspects of your personality cause you to show up in team engagement or certain work events? And, do you have a list of things you love to do that bring you joy? When was the last time you experienced a day that included those things?
Successful women make their self-assessment an ongoing journey of exploration. Backed by some true reflection, it’s much easier to start charting a course for your personal and professional goals.