I like maps. I like plans. When I’m tackling a problem, I find I start to draw it out-- here’s where I am, here’s where I want to go-- and then the steps in between start to make themselves more clear. Or when they don’t, I can more easily see what steps are missing. I see self-assessment as the Here’s Where I Am part of the map. The You Are Here sticker on the map. We can get all excited about making a change and reaching a new goal, but if we don’t have a strong sense of where we’re starting from, we might be aiming for the wrong thing. Or taking the long way there.
There are lots of ways to assess ourselves- and I don’t mean assess like giving ourselves a grade. I mean taking honest stock of our skills, our strengths, our personality, as well as what’s working and what’s not working about the situation we’re in now. Let’s talk about careers, to keep it simpler, but of course it’s a good idea to assess all areas of our life. That’s where the wheel of life tool comes in handy- use that tool to see what areas of your life could use some attention. Assuming, since you’re reading this, that you’ve decided your career/professional life could use some care and attention, here are some tools for you to drill down on what you want from your work, and what you don’t. These are geared towards law students and lawyers, but could easily be adapted for other types of careers. The values worksheet helps you get a handle on what’s important to you. Be careful not to answer these in the way that you think you should answer them, but in the way that feels most true to you.
The skills worksheet helps you identify what you like to do, and what you don’t. Take a look at what you have there- are you in a job that’s letting you use and further develop skills you enjoy? Or are you in a role that’s expecting you to do things that you’re neither good at nor enjoy? Oftentimes we fail to give ourselves credit for being skilled at things that come naturally to us. Like, Fairuz and I both love to host- we love to get people together, cook big meals, throw parties. Since this comes naturally to us, when asked what our skills are, it might not occur to us to say that we are highly skilled in (to take a few from the worksheet) initiating relationships, drawing people out, listening, or complex project management. We take it for granted because it comes easily and we enjoy it. But really, that’s our goal in work too, right? That should be our goal- to have work that uses our skills so it comes easily to us and we enjoy it. This is, I think, what the concept of being in Flow is all about.
So, take a look at what you have there on the skills and values worksheets, and then ask yourself these questions:
What’s working for me right now in my job? (Or, if you’re not working right now, what skills do you want to use, and what values do you want to honor, in your next job?)
What’s not working for me?
What values are getting met in your current job, and are there values that are getting stepped on? (Is something really pissing you off at work? That can be a good sign that a value is getting trampled. Anger is useful- pay attention to it!)
What skills do you want to use more?