On any journey, it helps to know where you are starting from, what strengths and weaknesses you have, and what tools, stories, assumptions, modes of being and values you are consciously or unconsciously bringing along. It also can help to understand how what you bring compares to the other travelers. Where are you strong, where are you weak, what skills do you want to build and how do you build them? Self Assessment Questionnaires can be a good Red Pill to help you figure these things out in a structured way.
I have taken over 1000 of these things and provide the most useful here in upgraded form. Most of these questionnaires come from theoretical academics for research purposes and often lack any applied analysis or “What next” guidance. My “Upgraded Self Assessment Questionnaires” attempt to provide four improvements over their purely research based cousins:
- Peer reviewed, well-studied assessment frameworks. Stay away from pop psychology “quizzes”. Choose questionnaires that have been thoughtfully designed, tested for correlations, run over large and varied data sets, and subject to critique and comparison to other available measurement methods (and survived). I am not trying to find the “best” and “only” frameworks, just ones that have been proven to work well so far.
- Cohort analysis and objective results placement. Provide some analysis of your individual results as compared to other people who took the assessment either through my tools and/or in the overall research samples. This is the “where am I in relation to the other traveler” piece. Understand this relationship may be an “ah Ha” moment or it may confirm what you already know/feel. The pay off here is understanding, waking up a bit, become aware just a little more of yourself and your surroundings. Pause a moment and let it sink in.
- Factor analysis where available. Most assessment tests, while testing a high level item like “happiness” will have groups of questions that are testing the sub-factors that the questionnaire designer has found to make up “happiness”. For example, Jung would say happiness has five factors, health, relationships, ability to perceive beauty, wealth, and spiritual practice. If you want to improve happiness, the biggest bang for your buck may be to focus on improving the weakest sub-factor. My upgraded analysis will provide factor analysis where possible.
- How to improve recommendations and further reading. I didn’t take hundreds of these things in a selfless devotion to furthering academic research. I took them to gain self-awareness and take action to change things I don’t like. So every analysis section includes extensive links to further reading on the subject as well as pointers to “interventions” which have been proven through research to result in higher assessment scores over time. Many of my favorite “interventions” are on my blog section called “Try This”.
I have started using the words “assessment” and “questionnaire” purposefully instead of “test” or “evaluation”. I have found “test” and “evaluation” to have a somewhat pejorative connotation toward a yes/no, pass/fail, you have it or you don’t have it mindset. “Tests” can tend to put you in a box and keep you there. Early mental health practices were big on this approach, picking out the “bad apples” and putting them in institutions. Even today, a “diagnosis” (read “test result”) of depression tends put the patient into a treatment “box”, usually pharmacological, the vast majority palliative in nature.
It is important to remember with all assessments and measurements that you are not the sum of your parts. You are not your test results. You are not your grit scale, or Meyers Briggs type, or any other measurement. You are not your job title. You are not your relationship status. Many of these assessments, the results change over time, or when applied to different circumstances. Just like your emotions change, and the weather. You are not your temperature reading. These are characteristics, parts, points in time. Your authentic self is something else. Something larger. Something deeper. In my experience, in the search for these larger, bigger more meaningful things, the assessments can help uncover pathways, stepping stones, issues which are enabling or preventing discover of your authentic self. Keep in mind these are all just tools. Your analysis, synthesis and implementation of growth/change is the most important thing to move the journey forward.
Based on my own self awareness work and supported by more modern existential psychotherapy and positive psychology science, I find that most things measured can be changed. The purpose of an “assessment” is to calculate a set point, a starting point. If you want to change the measurement, do some interventions, therapy, growth work, whatever is suggested by the science to improve what you are measuring. Then take the assessment again. And Again. Over time if the interventions are working you should see improvements. If you don’t, change what you are doing, try something else. An assessment can lead to awareness which can lead to growth OUT of the box.
I provide these Upgraded Self Assessment Questionnaires to help you wake up and get out of your Boxes.
Also published on Medium.