“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates
- Do you want to make the most of your life, but don’t know where to start?
- Do you want to improve the quality of your life, but don’t know how?
- Have you set a big goal and don’t know how to approach it?
- Are you stuck in an area of your life and don’t know what to do?
The natural response of the human mind is to look for concrete solutions to the problems we face. That might work for small goals or problems, but it will result in analysis paralysis in case of big goals and complex problems. We can rarely figure out a crystal clear solution in such cases. Top-down approaches seldom work in practice. The best alternative is to accept our current situation as it is and to improve it continuously.
This post is about self-evaluation, a practical continuous improvement method. Self-evaluation takes at most 15 minutes of your day, but its rewards are invaluable. You can use it to work towards any goal. You can use it to improve a certain area of your life or your life in general. You can use it to organize your life. I’ve seen people using it to improve their discipline in time management, diet, and finances. Its applications are countless.
Self-evaluation improves your self-awareness and self-control. It helps you focus on your goals and let go of behaviors and habits that don’t serve you. It can help you to get unstuck in any area of your life. In the process, you acquire wisdom about life. I use it daily and I can testify to its excellent results.
Set a Target
First of all, set a target for your next week and your next day.
- If you want to achieve a goal, your target is a list of tasks.
- If you want to lose weight, your target is a daily menu.
- If you want to be fitter, your target is a set of exercises.
- If you want to save money, your target is a daily budget.
- If you want to manage your time better, your target is your schedule.
- If you want to improve your social life, your target is the amount of social activities you want to participate in.
- If you want to improve your relationships, your target is how you want to treat your family and friends.
Feel free to come up with your own version of your target(s) for your focus. You can use it for multiple areas of your life. You can set multiple targets for each area of your life. The idea here is to make your target measurable, so that you can compare your results to your target.
Throughout the day, collect data about your results.
- If your goal is better time management, write down how much time you spend on each activity.
- If your goal is to lose weight, write down what and how much you eat every day.
- If your goal is to save money, write down how much money you spend and the products and services you spend it on.
At the end of your day, draw a line under your notes and evaluate your day.
- What did you do well?
- What could you do better?
The second one will be your improvement points for the next day. Here are some examples:
- I’ve completed only six out of ten tasks in my target today. I checked my emails and social media too often. Tomorrow, I’m going to check my emails and social media only once. I’m going to focus on my tasks first.
- I’ve mostly stuck to my daily menu, but I’ve drank a cup of coffee with sugar and eaten a desert in the afternoon. Next time, I’ll drink it without sugar and eat a small cookie instead of a desert.
- I’ve worked on my project for eight hours, but I’ve spent two hours on social media afterwards. Next time, I’ll skip social media after work and go out with my friends instead.
The last step of your evaluation is to update your targets for the next day.
Longer Term Evaluations
Daily evaluation is great, but you don’t need to stop there. At the end of the week, go over your daily evaluations and evaluate your week. Ask the same questions. What did you do well? What could you do better? Set targets for your next week. By doing that, you’ll spot greater trends that you haven’t seen in your daily evaluations.
Of course, you don’t need to stop with the weekly evaluations.
- Use your weekly evaluations to evaluate your months,
- Your monthly evaluations to evaluate your quarters,
- Your quarterly evaluations to evaluate your years.
The longer the term, the greater is the insight you’re going to acquire. That way you can set meaningful New Year’s resolutions and achieve them too. This is like charting your map through life, making course corrections as you go, and reaching all the destinations you want to reach.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.