Millions of American children and young adults receive report cards throughout the year. The subjects and skills may change, but the idea of learning for a few months and then being graded doesn’t. We’re raised to evaluate ourselves and our successes based on the report cards other people give us. But what happens after you leave the school system?
We should all write our own report cards on a regular basis. Only now, instead of getting marks in math, history and English, you should broaden what you measure to include anything that’s important to you. This might be making a certain amount of money, developing a new workplace skill or getting a promotion.
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You might also want to touch on other areas of life: Health, religion and, yes, relationships. No need to limit it just to academics or your career. For example, you could make it a priority to visit your grandparents once a month. Concrete goals like this have an advantage of being easy to evaluate.
Just as you would get progress reports in school, it’s helpful to establish a routine to ensure you’re checking in on your goals and giving yourself a “grade.” The routine could be as informal as posting your aspirations on your mirror so you’re reminded of them every day or as formal as scheduling a Google calendar “meeting” with yourself to reflect on your progress every month or so.
In the age of Instagram, when it’s so easy to get caught up in a cycle of comparing yourself to others, writing your own report card will help you stay focused on moving in the right direction for you.
Karin Agness is president of the Network of Enlightened Women and a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics.