2014 End-of-the-Year Self-Assessment

It’s become a bit of a annual ritual here, but I like to take some time out at the end of the year and look backwards (before I look forward) to a new year and assess my previous year.  It’s what I call the annual end-of-the-year self-assessment, a chance to take an honest look at every part of your life and assess what’s worked, and what hasn’t, in order to build on that for a happier and better life.

I like to spend some time with myself at the end of the year, and take an honest look at the areas of my life that went well, and those that could have used some improvement. I create goals at the beginning of the year, and this is kind of an assessment of those goals.

Taking stock is a good way to orient yourself to yourself, your life, your goals and dreams. It’s a roadmap of where you are, where you’ve come from, and where your going.

I think one benchmark of a successful year is to compare your year to your personal values. Comparing what has happened, and what your values are and how those areas compare to your benchmark, or ideal, is helpful in navigating you through your assessment.

I believe it’s really important to approach this in as neutral or unbiased way as possible. It’s hard to honestly assess ourselves, because we’re in our own lives, and sometimes lack the perspective, but I think it’s needed to get as wide a perspective (read: both the good and bad) as you can, without judgment!

Questions to ask yourself while you’re assessing yourself through your past year:

  1. How did I do this year?
  2. Do I feel successful (or not) in the areas of my life? Which ones?
  3. Are there areas or room for improvement?
  4. Did I live my life areas in alignment with my values? Why or why not?
  5. What would someone close to me say about how I did? Does that differ from how you see it?
  6. Where did I want to be a year ago, and have I gotten there? Why or why not?
  7. What got in my way? What are my barriers to change or success, or getting to where I want to be?
  8. What regrets do I have this year? How can I build off of those next year (without shaming myself)?

Here are some life areas and sub-areas to consider in your personal assessment. Try sitting down one weekend morning, and writing them down or journalling about them. Try writing out your responses, or even rating each area from a 1-10 lowest to highest. You can use the questions above to guide or navigate yourself through the life areas below, or add on additional questions or life areas that suit your needs.

Examples of life areas:

Financial

  • Day-to-day spending
  • Impulsive purchases
  • Eating out
  • Retirement savings
  • Budget planning
  • On the same page with spouse about money
  • Planning for big purchases (car/house/vacation) with a budget

Professional

  • Overall happiness at work (intrinsic, or things within yourself/extrinsic, or things outside of yourself)
  • Identification of work problems, and their possible solutions
  • Overall productivity
  • Relationships with others, superiors
  • Motivation for doing your work
  • Looking for another job/Resume or CV building
  • Prospect for advancement with current position
  • Alignment with long-term career goals

Spiritual

  • Church/temple/religious participation
  • Time in nature, or with God/higher power
  • Membership in a spiritual/religious community
  • Meditation
  • Yoga/Tai Chi
  • Spiritual or religious reading

Personal

  • Time management
    • Work/personal balance
  • Relationship with self/self-esteem
    • How you talk to yourself
  • Hobbies that you do regularly
  • Downtime for yourself
  • Self-care/meeting your needs
  • Emotional well-being
  • Psychological well-being
  • Personal fulfillment

Marriage/Primary Relationship

  • Your communication skills
    • What you would assess, and what your partner would assess
  • Your listening skills (How well you listen)
    • What you would assess, and what your partner would assess
  • Getting your needs met; knowing what you need, and how to ask for it
  • Meeting the others’ needs
  • Sexual relationship fulfillment
  • How emotionally vulnerable you allow yourself to be in your relationship/marriage
  • Your levels of defensiveness in your relationship
  • Dealing with conflict/knowing your “conflict cycle” (ask me for more info. about this)
  • Quality time with spouse/significant other

Family/Relationships

  • Time/contact/availability with your children and/or grandchildren
  • Time/contact/availability with your primary family/family of origin
  • Happiness with the quality/quantity of your relationships overall
  • Time with close friends
  • Time with not-so-close friends or acquaintances
  • Networking
  • Community involvement

Physical

  • Sleep
  • Diet/Nutrition
  • Exercise
    • Motivation to exercise
  • Health and medical care
  • Bad habits/choices
  • Medical problems

Giving/Charity

  • Contributions to charity
  • Time given to organizations of your choice
  • Day-to-day giving of yourself to others
  • Levels of selflessness
  • How you treat others

These are the life areas I could come up with. Which would you add for yourself? Try to make this a routine, and see how you progress from year to year. It’s a nice way to follow up on goals, which sometimes get lost soon after the year starts. Growth is not achieved overnight – it’s the accumulation of decisions, choices and behaviors that add up over time. It may take additional resources (time/money/energy/other people, etc.) to fulfill some of your goals to get to the point that your happy with them.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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