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The Importance of Self-Examination

Self-Examination is an ambiguous topic by nature, albeit an important one for anyone who is seriously looking to hit their goals. Here are five ways you can successfully evaluate your own performance, and use this to stretch yourself to new heights.

Why Self-Examine?

This question may sound tough, but it actually has a simple answer. Self-examination is like playing a footy match to win the game. Your coach gives you feedback throughout the match to ensure you remain on track. Self-examination on the personal development spectrum is much the same, albeit you are your own coach providing yourself your own feedback in order to attain whatever it is that you want. This comes down to asking yourself the hard questions:

  • Are you being diligent enough?
  • Are you paying enough attention to your goal?
  • What could you be doing more of?
  • Did you execute that task to the best of your ability?

Goals are only ever made a reality if you create practical steppingstones for yourself beforehand. As host Andrew Baxter states, self-examination is a great way to step back and really evaluate the habits you have (or haven’t) formed in pursuit of your goals. providing massive momentum and fuel in the fire, even long after the goal is achieved.



Effective Ways to Conduct Self-Examination

Ultimately, the ways in which one may choose to self-examine varies from person to person. What your goals are and how excessive you chose to be. Andrew Baxter recommends sitting down at least once a month to review your goals and achievements. Keeping track of where you are at, and what you could be doing differently is crucial in succeeding in those areas. This is your time to conduct your ‘analysis of variation’ to decipher what’s taking you closer and what’s taking you further away from your goals.

A great tool for this is journaling. A journal can allow an individual to chunk down their goal into bite size pieces, where they can then break up an analysis of their performance on a weekly or daily basis. Another great tool is timetabling; set up each individual day where the tasks are purely designed to bring you closer to your desired outcome. These are daily habits which roll into weekly habits, then monthly habits into life. The only way to kick big goals is to micromanage yourself day in and day out.



Horizontal vs. Vertical Goals – How to Stretch

Understanding what vertical and horizontal goals are is crucial in attaining any kind of stretch goal, (as we’ll touch on later). Let’s take the example of a trading account.

  • A vertical goal may be to grow the account by X dollars over Y time period, through an extension of the existing strategy (a scale up).
  • Whereas a horizontal goal may be to learn new strategies in order to achieve X over Y time period, by virtue of delving into other areas of trading as a cross between channels.

Setting and attaining horizonal goals by virtue of doing new things is the best way to achieve the almighty stretch goal. A stretch goal can often be implemented when a) the individual is on track to hit their existing goals and b) is becoming too familiar with the existing habits needed to achieve their existing goals. The stretch goal is designed to take you to the next level across a multitude of frontiers. Thinking back to the prior example of the trading account, a stretch goal may be to learn 3 new advanced strategies in Y time period in order to generate 10% more dollars on the X goal. 


Bridging the performance gap – the BHAG

Making the decision every single day to become better at something, and therefore develop the motivation to achieve it, is something known as the ‘performance gap’. This is when the individual notices a difference between their desired state and their current state of performance. This is where one would attempt to heighten their performance.

An individual with this level of motivation would be best implementing what Andrew calls a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). A BHAG is something of a personal best, a never before achieved habit or discipline. It’s something that truly improvement-driven personalities spend their lives working towards. The BHAG is the almighty achievement and is only ever attainable with hardcore self-examination and reflection on a day-to-day basis. With the intention of bridging the performance gap again and again and again.

Using Your Emotions as Leverage

When it comes to achieving goals and successful self-examination, ego can be a very powerful tool. The emotions behind the ego can be used as immense leverage get you back on track if you’ve fallen off. As Andrew explains, there has to be an emotional buy-in from yourself because the intrinsic motivation from within is what will carry you through the tough times.

Self-examination with real emotion requires you to keep dangling the carrot in front of your eyes. It also ensures you’re using the stick to whack yourself into gear; an exercise that will hopefully take you to new heights.


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