The end of the year is a great time to step back from the whirlwind of work, home and life expectations, and take a keen look at how the year went.
What I like to do at the end of the year is sit down and reflect on 7 life domains, gauging what worked, and what needed improvement, in each area. I do this in December, and take an hour or so to type out my answers.
From year to year, I look back and find a record of my life from year to year, and see where I’ve challenged myself. It’s interesting to have a complete picture after several years of doing this.
Here are the life domains I traditionally use for self-assesment from year to year:
- Relationships with Others
- Relationship with Self
- Mental Health
- Health + Wellness
- Hobbies and Interests
I find that I’m able to have an honest conversation with myself to see where I shined, and where I could have spent more time and energy focusing, as to improve on those things next year.
I invite you to try this exercise out. As to accurately gauge your level of progress, it might be helpful to get some feedback from those close to you, especially when it comes to the “Relationships with Others” section. Sometimes, we’re not able to fully appreciate how our relationships with others go, unless we know how they feel about them as well.
Personal Values and Happiness
What this self-assessment is designed to do is to close the gap between what we’re actually doing in our day-today lives, and where we want to be (our values). The more closely we can live our values, the more in synch we our with our life, and the happier we can report our lives to be.
Happiness is more than just a function of how well we’re living our values, of course, but it helps gets us there.Each person is different; therefore, each set of values is going to be completely unique from the next person.
Take an hour out one weekend morning in December, grab a cup of coffee, and write or type out your responses. Put some thought into your responses, and be honest to yourself.
Here are some possible suggestions to think about when you start your self-assessment, based on each category:
1. Relationships with Others
- Which relationships have you felt successful at this past year? Why?
- Which relationships do you think could use more of your attention and energy?
- Pick two people close to you. In what ways would they characterize your relationship with them, both good and bad?
- If you could choose, which is one relationship you would like to see improve? What is one thing that you could do in the next year, on a ongoing basis, to reinvest in that relationship?
- Do you have unfinished business with someone or more than one person? What would it take to help bring some closure to you? A phone conversation? An apology?
2. Relationship with Self
- How would you rate the relationship with yourself over the past year?
- In what ways do you find yourself critical of yourself, or not feeling good enough or inferior? Explain.
- How can you choose one way to help yourself feel better about yourself? Elaborate.
- How do you deal with your needs that go unmet? Do you get angry? Or do you withdraw? How can you make a commitment in 2012 to change that behavioral pattern and communicate your needs?
- Do you know what your needs are? Many guys don’t. Take 5 minutes and look at what you really need from others, and learn to make clear for yourself those needs.
- What were some successes and areas of improvement in terms of your financial situation this year?
- Where did you feel most comfortable with money this year? Most uncomfortable? Explain.
- Were your successful in your money goals? Did you meet certain milestones for income, savings, retirement savings?
- How did you discuss money this year with your partner? What could change for you around the conversations you have with your significant other?
- What problems did money bring you this year?
- What would you like to change about your relationship with money in 2012?
4. Mental Health
- Overall, how would you rate your level of mental health from 1-10 in the past year (“1” being most unhappy; “10” being extremely happy)? What would need to change in the new year for that number to rise?
- What three things did you do this year to contribute to your positive mental health? Exercise? Be with friends? Converse?
- What two things consistently trigger a negative mood or negative emotions in you from others?
- What can you identify to work on in 2012 to contribute to a better overall mental health, including diet, relationships, lifestyle, exercise, counseling, hobbies, time with family, friends, etc.
5. Health + Wellness
- Overall, how would you rate your level of physical health from 1-10 in the past year (“1” being unhealthy; “10” being very healthy)? What would need to change in the new year for that number to rise?
- What stopped you from taking control of your health this year?
- List two excuses that prevented your activity towards greater health.
- What would 2012’s physical health outlook be like, as different from this year’s?
- What successes can you celebrate around your health and well being?
- What limited you physically (e.g. injury, illness, disease) from achieving your physical and health goals?
- Did you engage in things to fill your spirit in the last year? What were they?
- How many opportunities did you “commune with nature” in 2011? What were those experiences like?
- Is spiritual engagement important to you? Why?
- What got in your way of filling your spiritual self?
- How can you make time for regular spiritual engagement in the new year (if this is important to you; e.g. yoga, meditation, chi gung, church, spiritual reading, nature, etc.)
7. Hobbies and Interests
- What did you do in 2011 for fun that brought you happiness and a sense of fulfillment?
- What have you been putting off that you’d like to engage in during the new year? Learning a new language? Playing guitar? Urban farming?
- What prevented you from engaging in your hobby this year – time? money? laziness?
These questions are intended to stoke the mental fires a bit, so please, come up with your own questions and ideas for your self-assessment. This is just for you, and honesty and self-disclosure will help you most here. Good luck, and I hope this exercise can help you change what’s not working in your life in 2012.