I urged you at the beginning of June to assess your performance against your objectives. But self-assessment is far broader than just looking at your work objectives. Every so often I return to books that have been influential in my life. One of those is Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women, by Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott. I’ve referenced that book before on this blog. Mid-year is a good time to review the Ruderman & Ohlott analysis of what high achievement requires, along with your performance objectives. Ruderman and Ohlott discuss five themes they found when researching high-achieving women (though I don’t believe the importance of these themes are limited to women). Their themes are:
- Acting authentically—keeping your daily actions congruent with your values and beliefs, and not in conflict with principles you hold dear
- Making connections—building relationships that matter, and and getting close to people who are important in your life
- Controlling your own destiny—acting with agency so that you take control of your life and your success
- Achieving wholeness—integrating all parts of your life into your personal sense of identity
- Gaining self-clarity—knowing who you are and how you fit into the world; you might call it gaining wisdom
Obviously, these themes are all integrated, and you can’t achieve success in one area without moving forward on others as well. But I have found this five-facet framework to be a usual tool for reviewing my life and determining where I need to focus most immediately. I’ve been returning to this book for around fifteen years now, and whenever I open it, I find something that I can work on. (Which makes sense, since none of us is ever perfect.) This summer, as I reflect on my life in all its facets, I feel good about the following:.
- Authenticity: I am living my life in accordance with my values.
- Wholeness: I like how the multiple parts of my life today—family, writing, consulting, mediating—combine to give me a sense of wholeness (though from day to day one aspect or another seems to be taking too much time). I’m not entirely where I want to be in designing my life, but I’m in better shape than at many points in my past.
- Self-clarity: And after so many years of working on self-awareness, I hope I have some clarity about myself (though some of my family might differ).
However, I do have some things I am working on:
- Connections: As an introvert, I struggle constantly with making connections. Who do I want in my life, beyond my family and closest friends?
- Control: Because I am too likely to comply with others’ requests of me, I also have a hard time with controlling my own destiny—I let other people take my time and define my success too easily. I do pretty well, but I must constantly reassess how I am spending my time and what to do about where I’m out of balance.
This brief post is not sufficient to fully describe the five themes that Ruderman and Ohlott offer for those seeking success. But perhaps you can get the sense of how my self-assessment exercise works. At this point in your life and your year, you might take an hour to reflect on each of these five themes. Or use another reference to define areas for self-assessment. The importance is to spend the time in reflection. Where in your life are you going strong? Where do you need to rebalance? Find Standing at the Crossroads at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And for other posts on my blog about self-awareness, click here.