How To Get Better at Everything You Do

It’s all about evaluation.

There might not be any magic bullets or secret formulas, but there are some things that bind successes.  There are principles that generally work toward success, and  it doesn’t matter what activities you’re striving for.  The main strategy must be composed of self-evaluation, and that can be broken down into various aspects.

1. Decide what success means

It can be hard to succeed when you’re unfocused.  If you apply energies in one direction and then another, you’ll be slowing your progress.  Sometimes a person does that because she changes her mind about what success means.  It’s not always obvious.  It can be a matter of degrees or it can be qualitative, depending on a philosophical idea about what’s important to you.  If you have one particular thing you’re trying to do and you don’t change your mind about it, you’ll give yourself a better chance.  This is the first step to evaluation: setting your criteria.

2. Evaluate all the time

Once you set your goals, you have to evaluate.  Not only is looking up after a few months and realizing you’re not getting anywhere unacceptable, but so is a minor version of this.  Evaluating isn’t there just for monitoring.  It helps you improve.

One method of evaluating is to score or judge particular things you do.  It could be a letter you write, a meeting, a way you handle a dispute.  You may choose to give yourself a letter grade or a number on a scale you develop.  Obviously, the key is not just to make the evaluation but to strategize for how to improve.

3. Refine and keep working

So, you now have some evaluation of your performance on some concrete tasks and you’ve given yourself some ideas for how to improve.  Where a lot of people fail here is by giving the first thing a try and then giving up after a week or so, concluding that improvement just isn’t in the cards.  If it were just that easy, why would you need the improvement in the first place?

Now that you’ve rated a particular occurrence and have made an attempt to refine it, and you’ve made a second attempt, you have plenty of data for your second shot.  You now are ready to go back, give another try, and rate that try.  Repeat and refine.

4. Reward yourself

You knew this was coming, didn’t you?  Great, now go out and reward yourself with some tacos or some new music downloads.  This is important for improvement because otherwise you’ll have an empty “now what?” feeling when you reach an improvement.  If you give yourself a little treat, you’ll realize that you’re fair to yourself and you’re not some ogre who can never be pleased.

5. Improve on improvements

Once you’ve stepped up your game just a little, you may wish to operate at that new level for some time.  You may not wish to rush into higher improvement.  However, stepping up another level may become an imperative before too long.  Be careful to remember that this constitutes an improvement on an improvement.  Remember the strides you’ve already taken, so you’ll feel less pressure and put your new efforts in proper perspective.