Giving end of year bonuses is a very common practice among employers, and bosses often determine employee bonus distributions based upon financial and non-financial measures. End of year performance reviews and hoped-for bonuses are a frequent topic of conversation this time of year. Taking a cue from business, today I want you to think about whether or not you have earned a life bonus this year; that is, whether you have lived up to your own standards, expectations, and goals during the past 12 months. Ask yourself the questions posed below to assess if you met your expectations, and if not, where you fell short. How did you do in 2013? What can you do better in 2014?
Morally/Ethically: Are you living your life based upon your values? Do you act on what matters to you? Are you proud of your decisions, actions, and behaviors? Do you support causes that you believe in or identify with? Do you live up to your commitments/promises?
Emotionally: Do you take responsibility for what you say and do, or do you blame others for your reactions? Do your actions match your words? Are you emotionally open and honest with those you love and care about? Are you able to be non-judgmental with yourself and others? Are you doing what you can to manage your emotional reactions if they get out of control?
Physically: Are you stronger or healthier than you were this time last year? Are you trying to follow your doctor’s or widely published general medical advice to consume less and exercise more? Do you frequently use alcohol or drugs to distract yourself or self-medicate? Are you managing your stress level well?
Romantically: Do you make it a point to stay emotionally connected to your partner? Do you know what he or she needs from you in order to feel loved? How do you make him/her a priority? On your daily to-do list, is your partner included? Are you trying to be a better partner?
Parentally: What lessons are you teaching your children? Are you modeling healthy behaviors for them? Are you spending adequate quality time with your children by listening to them, engaging with them, and paying attention to what they find important? Are you being consistent with your children, holding age-appropriate boundaries for them?
Relationally: Did you see friends as often as you would have liked? If not, why not? Did you make any new friends? Do you spend adequate time with people you love? How would your friends know that you value your relationship?
Financially: Are you living within your means? Are you spending, saving, and investing with a goal of meeting future needs for you and those for whom you are responsible? Are you being completely financially faithful and transparent with your partner?
Intellectually: Do you devote adequate time to continued learning by reading or studying new and interesting topics? Are you seeking out information to help you be a smart consumer and critical thinker?
Professionally: Do you diligently work with the goal in mind of becoming a better employee or leader of your company? Do you know what makes a difference within your organization? How do you differentiate yourself from the pack? Are you proud of your professional self?
As a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and financial therapist, I work to help my clients improve their lives in all of these domains. Building a happier and more meaningful life takes work, and it’s not always fun, but the payoff off in personal growth is usually well worth it. We probably all agree that time feels like it moves faster as we get older, and setting and achieving goals is a good way to feel as though you are an active participant in living your life and not just living by habit and past choices. We can’t slow down time but we can try to make it more meaningful. If you find that there is room for improvement in your life in terms of reaching your goals, simple behavioral tools can make a significant difference. Symmetry Counseling, starting in January 2014, will be addressing each of these life measures in its twice weekly blog. We will suggest small, but very achievable goals that will allow you to feel you are actively living and are earning your life bonus at the end of 2014. If you would like to be on the mailing list for our blog newsletter, please email email@example.com.