We’re almost to the new year, and that means we’re inundated with posts about the best stories of the year, the best blog posts of the year, and the biggest industry changes of the year. The year’s end is a good time for reflection for ourselves too: What did we learn about ourselves over this past year that might help us in the future?
I want us all to have an even better year in 2015. *smile* To do so, we might need to work on our weaknesses or identify what didn’t work for us this past year.
- What decisions did we make that sabotaged our success?
- What processes did we try that held us back?
- What things did we prioritize that didn’t match with our goals?
As I pointed out with Courtney Milan’s advice in my post about slow writers, sometimes correcting an issue simply comes down to avoiding situations that force us to face that issue in the future.
- What decisions would have better odds of success for us?
- What processes might be a better match for how we work?
- What priorities would better lead to progress toward our goals?
In other words, sometimes knowing how to succeed starts with knowing what doesn’t work. So the better we understand ourselves, the more likely we are to know how to succeed in the future.
But First, the Disclaimers…
#1: Don’t Be Too Hard on Ourselves
This exercise shouldn’t be about beating ourselves up. No matter what, we can’t be perfect about any aspect of our lives—much less every aspect.
Looking for weaknesses or areas to improve isn’t about trying to make ourselves feel bad for not being perfect or to add to our self-doubt. In fact, we wouldn’t do ourselves any favors if we focus so much on one “weakness” that we ignore all our strengths to the point that we lose ground in those areas.
#2: Balance, Balance, Balance
We can analyze many aspects of our life for this “what didn’t work” question. Those aspects of our life can fit together like puzzle pieces, so that’s a big reason why we’ll never achieve anything even close to perfection in every area of our life.
For example, if we decide to change our approach to our career, that might affect our relationships. Or if we want to spend more time on our relationships, that might affect our career. Etc., etc.
#3: Be Conscious of Our Priorities and Choices
Instead, we want to think about things we could do better or ways we could improve without compromising other areas of our life that are important to us too. Life balance has to be part of our equation, and no one else can tell us where that line of balance falls for our life.
We shouldn’t feel guilty for consciously letting an area of our life slide because we’ve consciously decided that it isn’t worth worrying about. The point is that we’ve consciously thought about it and made that decision. *smile*
Analyzing Ourselves: Our Strengths and Weaknesses
I’ve talked before about using the Myers-Briggs test to learn more about our characters. But we can obviously use this test to learn more about ourselves as well.
I’d originally started digging deeper into the Myers-Briggs test because I came across this post about how authors tend to mischaracterize the INTJ personality type. As a borderline INTJ, I found the post fascinating. (Apparently, many fictional villains are INTJs. Maybe I should practice my evil laugh. *wink*)
Step One: Learn Our Type
Mandy’s post led to several more sites with more information. But first, I wanted to confirm what I thought I remembered of my test results. I like this version of the test because it not only gives your results, but it also tells you how strong you are in each measurement.
As I mentioned, I’m a borderline INTJ because I have only a very slight preference for T(hinking) over F(eeling). In other words, the INFJ description applies equally well to me, and I’d probably score one way or the other differently from day to day.
(And it’s a good thing my motto has always been Why Be Normal?, as those categories are two of the rarest personality types. I can’t do anything normally. *grin*)
Step Two: Read Up on Our Type
Once we know our type, we can read about our type (and any other close types) to gain insights into how we think and feel and relate to the world around us. Some of the links that I like for explaining the variations are this one (related to the test link above) and this one. (That second link gives very detailed explanations and an overview of how we might change with maturity.)
Step Three: Dig Deeper into Our Type for Strengths and Weaknesses
We can also dig deeper to understand how our personality might affect our strengths and weaknesses as far as our career or our relationships. For example, my INFJ strengths explain why I love helping people with this blog, but those weaknesses also point out why I’ll never be great at sales and marketing. *smile*
Analyzing Ourselves: Apply What We Know
The more we understand about ourselves, the better we’ll be able to prioritize and know which aspects aren’t worth the time and effort to get close to near-perfection. For example, my personality type tends to become frustrated with too much focus on details.
To put that into writing terms, I’m ready to tear my hair out after a nitpicky editing session. Using macros to search for issues helps a bit by automating the process, but I have to focus first on the bigger nitpicky problems because I know I won’t have the patience to do multiple passes.
I could fight that tendency, but why? I’d much rather work around my weakness and save that time and energy for an aspect where I’ll have a greater chance of success. Instead, I can ensure my work receives strong copyediting by others with that strength, and not fruitlessly try to overcome that weakness by forcing myself to do something I’m not good at (and hate doing).
What Should We Change for Next Year?
After we’ve gotten to know ourselves better, we can see if or how those aspects affected our successes or failures of the past year. Then we can decide what we should do differently next year.
For example, I’m far too weak when it comes to procrastination. *sigh* Analyzing myself revealed the core issue of why: I’m a perfectionist who gets enjoyment from novel experiences, which often manifests in endless explorations when trying to learn something new. Learning something new is great, but not when I use that as an excuse to avoid moving forward with imperfect information.
So what should I change? A stronger emphasis on self-deadlines (or even mini-deadlines for each step of a process) might help. Or timers might help balance between a free rein to explore and the endless over-thinking black hole I use for procrastination.
On some level, I knew all this about myself already (after all, my personality likes analyzing things *grin*), but seeing it in context of these test results helped me see them not as weaknesses that I can overcome simply by being more stubborn. Just having better intentions won’t be enough to steamroll through those weaknesses.
Instead, by seeing these weaknesses as part of me, I know I have to find ways to work around them. Acknowledging my weaknesses isn’t about beating myself up, but about recognizing where I need to try something else.
We might all be able to make improvements in our decisions, priorities, and processes for this next year if we better understand what didn’t work this past year. And more importantly, if we understand why they didn’t work. Maybe with that information, we’ll all be fabulously successful in 2015. *fingers crossed*
Do you ever stop and think about how and why failures occur in your life? Might your personality affect why you succeed or fail? Does that information help you make better future decisions? What didn’t work for you this past year? What changes do you think might help?Pin It