2015 Annual Self-Assessment

Yes, it’s that time of the year to look back on yourself and your actions, and see what’s worked for you, and what needs improvement in 2016.

This has become a bit of a tradition here at my practice, since this newsletter theme has been popular in the last couple of years, and clients are repeatedly wanting to look at their year and see how they can make some small (or large) improvements in their life over the next 12 months.

I would recommend that you take some time out of your day or routine schedule to do the self-assessment, or plan some time for yourself over the holidays when you’ve got free time. Take yourself over the the local coffeeshop one morning, and go through these items one by one, and record your thoughts and ideas about each item (in journal form, or as goal-setting items), and see what you come up with.

You can add your own specific items for each general category, and see how the “big picture” starts to look. See how all of the “life domains” below (personal, marriage, family, career, etc.) look holistically, and see if you’re satisfied with where your year ended up. Are you happy with how it’s turned out in the last year? If not, are you willing to make changes in what you’re doing? Do you have real, concrete action steps you can use to remedy those issues that are blocking you in your life, or can you get the help you need to make the changes?

Don’t shame or criticize yourself if you’re less than happy with the results. Maybe there were other extenuating circumstances to your situation. Maybe there are some psychological blocks that prevent you from getting to where you want to be, like fear of failure or success, not feeling good enough, laziness, hopelessness, etc. Write those down, too.

These “domains” and bullet-pointed questions are all just suggestions: they are a way to get the conversation started for yourself, and possibly between you and others in your life. They are themes you can play with, and add to, but you have to make them work for you. Here we go:

Personal
* Were you happy over the last year? What do you attribute that to? What might have prevented you from happiness?
* What was the relationship with yourself over the last year like? Were you hard on yourself, or kind, or both?
* Did you take care of yourself? Can you define self-care for yourself? What did that look like?
* How did you manage stress over the last year? What could you have done better in this area?
* Did you achieve a level of success that you are proud of? What is it, and how did you get there? What stopped you from having the success you would have wished? In which life domains did you feel successful? Be specific.
* What got in your way in 2015: obstacles, personal issues, physical problems or ailments, mental health problems, stress, lack of time, lack of money, divorce, negative thinking, etc.? What will you do about those things in the new year? What needs to change in order for you to feel better about these areas?
* Were you true to yourself, even if others didn’t agree with you? Did you honor your own “voice”?

Marriage/Intimate Relationship
* Were you happy in your relationship or marriage this past year? Why or why not?
* What are the issues presented to you and your significant other? Can they be addressed, and if so, how will you do that?
* Are you in the right relationship or marriage for you? Why or why not?
* How has your communication been over the last year? What would your spouse or significant other have to say about it?
* How was your sexual life? Were you happy with it? If not, what needs to change, and what can you change?
* How were your listening skills? Would your partner say that he/she felt like you were available and present and could listen to them without trying to solve anything for them?
* If you were single, how was your experience being alone or dating? Did you want to see changes, or not? Were you okay with being alone?
* How often did you express affection or emotional intimacy to your partner? Do you feel comfortable with doing that? Why or why not?

Family (either family of origin or your own family)
* Did you spend the time with your family members that you wanted to, looking back? Why not?
* What are your values around family? Did you actualize your values, and put them into practice? How so?
* What could you have done better around prioritizing your family more?
* Were there problems between family members that went unaddressed? Could you commit to working on those “problems between people” in the new year? What would you need to do to challenge the way you’ve been engaging with the person you’re having conflict with?
* If you have kids: did you spend enough time with them? Was it quality time? What got in the way of that? Did you express affection to your kids this past year?
* Did you express gratitude to the people in your life you value or cherish? How do you feel comfortable expressing gratitude to people in your life?

Job/Career
* Did you put in the effort on the job that you would have wanted to? Are you proud of your work in the last 12 mos.? Why or why not?
* Were you expecting a raise or bonus this year, and if so, did you get it? How did you celebrate your success?
* Were there problems presented to you that you were able to manage at work? What were the results?
* Did you feel a sense of “intrinsic motivation” (the motivation that comes from within, not just for money) for your work, aside from being motivated just by your paycheck? Why or why not?
* Did you get along with your co-workers and new networking connections in a way you were proud of?
* Are you thinking about changing jobs or careers? What did you do in 2015 to move that along? What prevented you from moving forward in this area?
* Are you unsatisfied with work in 2015? Are there things you’re willing to do about that in 2016?

Health/Exercise/Diet/Mental Health
* What did you do for your health in 2015, and are you happy with it?
* What excuses did you make in 2015, and how will you troubleshoot them in 2016 so they don’t keep you from taking care of yourself?
* How did you eat? Drink? Generally take care of your health?
* Did you have health issues that you didn’t attend to? What prevented you from getting help?
* How did you mentally talk to yourself this year? Positively with support, or negatively with your self-critic? How come?

Financial
* What was your financial situation overall this year?
* Did you spend too much money? On what items?
* Did you operate off of a budget, or did you track your expenses and income? Did you just wing it instead?
* What was your debt situation like over the past 12 mos? Does it need reduction, and if so, what is your plan in 2016 to work on reducing it?
* Did you experience money troubles in 2015? What accounted for those? What needs assistance?
* Did you save? What are you saving for – specific items, or a 3-6 mo. emergency savings? How did you do?
* Did you and your mate communicate about finances and money? If so, how did that go.
* Did you work with your tax accountant and your financial planner on best strategies for your money? How did that go? Do you have “healthy relationships” with your retirement account and your tax burden?

These are the starter “life domains,” but there are certainly more. You could include hobbies, spiritual or religious life, friendships, travel, future goal building and many other domains, but make them work for you. No one’s individual life domain list is going to be the same as the next.

Personalize them to your own life, and make them a regular “check-up” at the end of the year to make sure you’re on task to create the next year according to your wants and needs. The next year can be authored by you, and you don’t have to feel like the year will necessarily happen to you, if you’re more in control of it coming into the new year.

Best of luck, and Happy Holidays to you and your family. You deserve happiness and success, and I wish you all of it and more.

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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