Create a Year Evaluation Report
An Evaluation Report helps you to reflect on the past year to make the next year even better.
After each new years eve, there is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to what is to come. In this particular case it is the perfect moment to take a critical look at the direction of your life of where you have been and where you are going.
In other words, an evaluation report allows you to give consideration to what has happened and what you want to improve. It gives the possibility to think about what went wrong, what went right and what you are grateful for to have learned.
This idea came from James Clear, who states that he makes the report to force himself to think about how his is embodying his values in daily life.
And it is true. Because with a clear and honest self-evaluation of yourself, you can make 2020 better than ever.
There are two main topics I will discuss in my evaluation report:
- My 3 biggest life lessons in 2019
- What core values will guide me in 2020
Life lessons of 2019
#1. Take risks when you can
I learned that taking risks is probably one of the most rewarding things in life. Even though it might be scary at first, we are often proud we tried or did something when we think about it afterwards.
Going back to 2018, this was a year where I decided to live and work in Spain. The risk has paid off big time. It has shown me a different way of living. I got to know a new culture and was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the Spanish people and their attitude.
In 2019 I took another big risk when I quit my job to start blogging and travelling. I felt like I needed the space and time to develop myself personally. I was working in Madrid at the time and wasn’t fulfilled in the position I had.
So I knew it was time to make a change and start with something that involved my personal interest in psychology, behaviour and change. Since these were my favourite topics I decided to make it into an ultralearning project and create a blog. My goal was to learn as much as I could in a year and I ended up reading over 40 books on (cognitive) psychology, self-improvement, presence & consciousness, neuroscience, Stoicism, motivation and happiness.
Risks are scary but worth it
By taking the risk I managed to write about 20 essays, totalling over 40.000 words. It’s not the biggest or best blog yet, but it is a start I’m proud of.
In this case, I took this risk without knowing what would come of it and ended up loving the experience. By doing it I got the opportunity to get to know myself and other people – including the lessons it taught me about life and happiness.
Thus, I’m glad I took the risk. Instead of looking at what it would cost me, I looked at what gains I could get from the experience.
Which brings me to my second life lesson of my evaluation report.
#2. Frame life choices in terms of gains, not cost
Instead of asking yourself what the opportunity cost is for every action you take – ask yourself what the opportunity can give you or others.
It became clear to me that when we take on new initiatives or changes in our life we always examine the consequences of each action we take. We ask ourselves: What’s in it for me and what is the benefit I will receive?
However, I found out that viewing life in this way really limits the opportunities you take – and the rewards you receive. Simply because it converges on a very limited amount of opportunities that will seem beneficial. In fact, not all opportunities will reward you in the ways that you think they will do. More often than not, we are unable to see what something costs. But even more often than that, we are unable to see what benefits we can receive from it.
So it’s time to stop asking yourself what is in it for the short-term. In the long run, lots of opportunities can bring you to unique places. Because the future is invisible – we cannot determine what will happen to us if we make certain choices. Yes, we can imagine and guess how our actions in the present relate to the future, but you will never be able to imagine all of the possibilities. Seeing things through the opportunity cost perspective will eliminate so many opportunities that have fruits at the end of their path.
Convergent vs. divergent thinking
Just consider the possibilities you are not aware of. Maybe if we help this person here today we will be in a different place tomorrow or this leads to us meeting a new person.
In another case, maybe taking the time today to workout will lead to a higher quality of life in the future. Maybe because of this we will encounter a new business opportunity or a new sense of fulfilment. The point of the story is: we truly do not know what life has in store for us.
Put differently, it’s impossible to take a peek at the 1000 doors ahead of us that haven’t been opened. The only door we know is the one we pass through and all the other doors are invisible to us. Thus, instead of thinking convergently we should think divergently – so we can see multiple perspectives instead of the one that is defined by our prejudices.
Because prejudices about how things are or will be are often wrong. Therefore, stop thinking you have the complete picture of the costs vs the benefits. Instead, go with the flow and stay open to the dynamic possibilities of life.
#3. Happiness is a state of mind
In 2019, I was living abroad and had the freedom to do what I wanted. I travelled, partied, read books, wrote articles, worked out, and explored a lot of new places.
Moreover, I was happy with my life. But not because I had any material objects. I was happy, simply because I had the freedom to do what I wanted. As a result, I chose to be happy each day – and make the most of each moment.
Now that I have returned to The Netherlands, the first few weeks seemed so surreal. I wasn’t in the sunny environment anymore where I used to be, free of worry, totally engaged and focused on my project. I suddenly had to think about my future, financially, geographically, romantically and professionally.
Which made me realize again; happiness isn’t created by what you have, but how you think about what you have. In other words, it’s a daily practice and a conscious choice to look at your life from the right perspective.
For some time I was confused whether to stay in The Netherlands or go back to Spain. Emotions were playing their part. I asked myself; is my happiness bound to something outside of myself? Do I want to return to Spain? Or stay here and focus on a career?
But again I realized, there is no right answer. Both options would be okay, as long as I would be happy with the choice I would make. Above all, the most important thing is to make the most of it every day.
Thus, I think this is my biggest life lesson of 2019; to realize that happiness is a choice and that you are solely responsible for creating that state of mind.
My new Core Values for 2020
Below are my core values for 2020 based on my evaluation report of 2019. Especially in moments that I need to take a step back to regain the right attitude.
Positivity (Learning, Insight, Embrace)
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”– Zig Ziglar
I have re-discovered the meaning of positivity. First I thought it was an over-hyped word, but I figured out that positivity doesn’t mean being positive all the time and ignoring the negative. It’s about seeing the positive in the negative. Because in each struggle or obstacle we face lies the opportunity to improve and reflect on what the situation is trying to teach us. It’s about learning to deal with life’s beauties and sorrows in an appropriate way.
In this sense, positivity is much more about being able to put things in perspective. Because in the end, what matters is what you do or how you react in each situation. Simply, sometimes the only thing you can do is to accept that things do not go your way, even thought you gave your best.
Which brings me to my second value.
Acceptance (Surrender, Strength, Harmony)
I turned 25 last year and it is starting to dawn on me that time flies faster than I thought. Life changes. Priorities change. Perspectives change. As a result, I’m feeling more and more that acceptance of life can bring harmony and strength to whatever it is that I’m trying to do or accomplish.
So instead of resisting change or trying to take control, the more I focus on surrender. In turn, this leads me to feel at peace with myself and my decisions. This way, I realize that it’s okay that sometimes things do not work out and that the most important thing is to actually let go of the struggle:
“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.”– Pema Chodron
The older you get, the more life becomes a trade-off between different things. Out differently, choosing for one thing means not choosing for 10 other things that you could also do. This is true for your time, effort, relationships, energy and of course money. So by letting go of expectations and ambitions life becomes a whole lot easier to navigate.
Which brings my to my final value – how I can be of service to others.
Connection (Contribution, Empathy, Trust)
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
The real key to unlock all that you want in life is to be able to connect with other people. To truly want to help them and make them feel respected. After reading How To Win Friends and Influence People by the author Dale Carnegie, I realized that his wisdom is still as appropriate as it was then as it is now.
Otherwise stated, to be of service, to be able to empathize with others, to see things from their perspective – is how you can make a real difference in the world.
Moreover, through my blog I have been helping and coaching people that seek help in any way. And it has been coming back to me in positive ways I could not have imagined. That’s why I’m glad I took this opportunity, helping me to deepen my relationships with others.
A better 2020
In short, an evaluation report has given me the personal insights and life lessons to make 2020 a year full of purpose and meaning. Now it is up to you to make an evaluation report and make a list of pointers for the next year.
My goals for 2020 are:
- Taking risks to win something of value.
- Listening to myself and being open to opportunities.
- Choosing consciously for happiness and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Sharing positivity and knowledge with others to truly have an impact beyond myself.
- Making decisions with my mind and heart aligned – while letting go of the result or outcome.
So here are a few questions for you to reflect on for your evaluation report:
- Do you feel you are going with the flow of life?
- Are you living healthy and do you focus on growth?
- Do you have a meaningful impact on others?
- Do you have creative tension in your life between your goals and current situation – with the courage to take action?
- Are you conscious of your behaviour and how you can improve?
- Do you invest effort and energy in goals you deem important?
- Are you exploring new sides of yourself and taking on challenges outside of your comfort zone?
- Are you designing your life with effective habits that bring you closer to your goals?
- Do you face change with the right attitude?
- Are you mentally programming your optimal future?
- Do you create motivation for long term goals?
- Are you climbing the right ladder of success?
- Do you know how to deal with life’s paradoxes?
- Are you expanding your identity?