Big Picture Question 3: Conducting a Self-Evaluation

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This week’s #bigpicture prompt gives us an opportunity to take last week’s prompt and change direction on it:

How would I evaluate my own performance?

Last week, we tried to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. This time around, I’m asking you to take the opportunity to think of how you would conduct an evaluation of yourself.

Of course, in order to evaluate yourself, you need a yardstick, a job description. You can, of course, stick with the job description that came with your work contract. You’ll know whether you are engaged in the duties necessary to your position or working toward the goals set by your team or organization. But you can also expand on that and add to it the qualifications and criteria that are important to you. If you know that spending time with family and time outdoors are important to your overall health, happiness, and productivity, how are you meeting that criterion? If your goal this year is to publish more, have you taken the necessary steps to reach that goal? If your goal is to leave your current job for something more fulfilling, more interesting, better paying, etc., do you really know what you what next, or are you spinning your wheels and waiting for a sign written in the heavens?

Conducting an honest evaluation of yourself requires a long and deliberate look at what you know to be real and true and important. Instead of relying on a boss or an institution or a teacher to evaluate us, this requires being truthful to ourselves. Are you living a life that reflects and honours your values and expresses (at least a piece of) who you are? Or are you dishonest about your role at work, in your relationships, with where you live, or how you spend your time and money?

Whether you’re on Pinterest or reading self-improvement books, you’ll come across the phrase “living my best life.” It sounds trite, of course, and it frequently is. Plus, in connection with bullet journal layout spreads or recipes for the best margarita, it smacks of privilege and first-world problems. I can customize that phrase for myself, though, and think about what, exactly, my “best life” would contain. I’ve done a lot of that mental and emotional work in both coach training and in working with a coach, and I know that my “best life” involves plenty of autonomy, plenty of books and learning and growing, time outside with the dog, and knowing that the work I do has an impact on lives or organizations. Using those criteria as my yardstick, I would conduct a very different self-evaluation than one focused entirely on performance outcomes at work.

Knowing where I measure up against these goals and criteria is just as important to me as knowing that my business is growing and that my clients are satisfied with the work we do together. One of the ironies of leaving academia for self-employment has been that I left a profession where it feels as though you should always be working for another profession where . . . it feels like you should always be working. Knowing what aspects of my work and my life are most important to me and making time for those is an essential part of evaluating where I stand with my career.

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