Congratulations on getting feedback from people with expertise and experience. Congrats as well for listening to it, appreciating it, and working hard to use that feedback to measure your progress.
Now it’s time to re-assert yourself into the assessment process. Ultimately, you are the best judge of where you are on your path to success, as long as you make good use of the information you’ve gathered from others.
I offer a step-by-step approach to self-assessment using information from others filtered through your personal judgment. (You will get the most from this blog post by downloading the self-assessment worksheet at disciplinestrategy.com.)
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
Let’s start by writing down strengths, incorporating feedback wherever you can:
- What are you doing right?
- Are you on schedule? Are you perhaps ahead of schedule in some way?
- Does feedback about your strengths from someone else match own your opinion? Can you leverage that now-verified strength in some way?
- Where are you falling short?
- Are you on schedule? Are you perhaps behind schedule in some way?
- Is there an internal reason for your not being on schedule, such as an emotional difficulty, a drain on your resources you weren’t expecting, frustration, or a lack of enjoyment for something you thought you would like?
- Has a feedback source suggested a weakness you really want to dismiss? Why is it difficult to think about? Is there any evidence of this weakness? If so, what can you do about it?
- Has some new opportunity come up that you couldn’t see before you began? How can you use it now?
- Has there been an opportunity from the beginning that only now you can see? How can you use it?
- Now that you’re addressing a strength or weakness, is there a resource to help you that you haven’t considered before? Brainstorm.
Understanding threats is critical. A threat, internal or external, might damage or even destroy your chances of reaching your goal. It’s more serious than a weakness.
An internal threat may be an action, thought, habit, or poor decision. An external threat is something that you can’t control or prevent. Once you perceive a threat, it goes to the top of your action plan. Feedback from others can identify threats you don’t see coming.
Are you ahead of schedule because you haven’t seen a problem coming? Listen to your feedback, and assess it. Don’t panic with every setback, but listen to your gut. What is your gut, after all, but that part of you reacting to new information based on old experience?
Be Receptive to Revision
When unfounded despair whispers at you to give up, ignore it. But when your gut suggests a revision, pay attention.
Rationally employ your feedback and self-assessment to make changes as needed or desirable. You made those plans and schedules to get yourself where you want to be, but as your knowledge and experience grow, you are in an increasingly favorable position to hone those plans and schedules.
If a new threat is lurking, prepare for it, make yourself flexible, and be ready to overcome that threat to achieve your final goals.