Taking stock of oneself

Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Finding out more about oneself isn’t easy, esp. when you want to decide what you want to do next. Or can do next. Or perhaps should do next. Not only because it’s hard to assess oneself. How skillful are you really? How smart? Are you really that motivated or that interested? Or interesting? The answers might not necessarily be beneficial to hear and people have a tendency to delude themselves. But also because life is pretty complex. There are a lot of different things going on that it’s hard to get a decent overview.

But still, if you don’t take stock, it’s hard to know what you deal with. And yeah, I take a very … cognitive approach to this issue and it currently is an issue. So one thing I’m currently trying out is to create the following table:



  1. Dimension
    Area/aspect under consideration. See below for some of the dimensions I’m trying out.
  2. IS
    The current status. Ideally based on more-or-less objective information (tests, certificates, actual behavior, etc.).
  3. AIM
    What would be the desired state on this dimension? What do you want to achieve/have/do? The challenge is to use realistic goals that are also measurable. They should also not contradict other aims in the same column. Sometimes there are multiple either-or goal states.
  4. AVOID (Nightmare Scenario)
    I find it helpful at times to explicitly spell out a few nightmare scenarios. What do I definitely not want? You can’t exclude everything, but one or two of the states you really do not like/fear can help to bring the aim into focus.
  5. Action Items
    Looking at the Is, Aim and the Avoid columns, what concrete steps are needed to make Is to Aim while avoiding the nightmare scenario? Usually, there are multiple ways but the best one or two seems to be enough.


Currently I’m working through the following dimensions (the rows).

  • General
    • Body
    • Mood/Mind
    • Place of Living
    • Housing
    • Debt
    • Eating
  • Private Life
    • Partner
    • Own Children
    • Friends
    • Acquaintances
    • Family
    • Interests
    • Hobbies
    • Sports
    • Culture
    • Transportation
    • Pets
    • Traveling
  • Work Life
    • Job
    • Contribution
    • Quality of Work

Of course, this whole approach requires honest “soul searching” and the believe that such a planned approach is actually helpful. Not sure about that yet. But it should provide an interesting overview … I hope.