How To Evaluate Your Performance For Future Success

Stop judging yourself after each performance. Learn a simple 4 step process

How do you typically evaluate your performance?

Does your mind immediately go to all the mistakes you made? Or are you one who only seeks out the good, completely overlooking any areas that could benefit from improvement?

While one of the options is clearly bad, the other seems more positive. Shouldn’t it work to build our confidence by only seeing what we did right?

Yes, you do need to focus on the positives from your performance. However, becoming blind to any areas of improvement restricts you from making progress and becoming even more successful moving forward.

So, if either of these options sound like you, I want you to wipe your slate clean. Forget about how you used to evaluate your performance.

It’s time to learn an effective technique to evaluate your performances in a healthy manner. One that will work to build your confidence, while simultaneously showing you the improvements you must make to elevate your performance moving forward.

The Importance of Properly Evaluating Your Performance

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are evaluating and judging yourself after each performance. I like the word judging, because until you really set into practice an effective evaluation routine, all you’re doing is judging yourself.

I used to call this analyzing my performance. When I was younger, this entailed long talks with my parents while in the car on the way home from a game.

In college, this would involve detailed phone calls with my mom. Going over every aspect of my play.

But, this was an analysis based on judgment. It was as though I was giving myself a grade for how well (or poorly) I performed.

It definitely wasn’t a process utilizing future oriented thinking. Instead, it was a venture into the past, often becoming fixated on aspects of my play I no longer was in a position to change.

Does this sound familiar?

This points to one of the major reasons it’s vital to properly evaluate your performance. By doing so, you are using a situation to propel yourself forward, rather than becoming stuck in what happened in the past.

Continual Improvement

As an athlete, I’m sure your goal is to continually improve yourself, am I right?

Your aim is to strive and become the best you can be, in whatever sport you play. This process of continuous improvement only occurs when you properly evaluate your performance.

In fact, as you learn in the next section, holding onto the judgment mindset, where you over analyze and belittle yourself for all you did wrong, works against this drive to improve.

When you learn to evaluate yourself properly, each performance serves as a stepping stone. After every competition, good or bad, you can relish in the fact you are heading in a forward direction on the path of continual improvement.

Even a game which you deem to be a failure turns out to be a positive experience once you learn how it can be properly evaluated.

If you fail to do so, and continue down your path of judgement, think of yourself as taking steps backward on this path. Furthering yourself from the improvement you desire.

Negative Impact of Judging Your Performances

When I say judging your performances, what I’m referring to is the act of looking back over how you played with the eye of a judge.

Judges seek out what you did wrong and what you did right, as both are needed to score your performance. However, when you do this yourself, you tend to focus solely on what you did wrong.

Approaching the evaluation of your performance with this type of mindset hurts you, because the tendency is to judge what you did right or wrong in an attempt to decide how you are allowed to feel about the performance.

Rather than see it as a stepping stone to forward progress, it becomes a judgmental and determining factor for your current mood.

The more you do this, the greater weight each performance carries. With it comes a number of mental game challenges that push you backwards on your path towards growth.

“Judges seek out what you did wrong and what you did right, as both are needed to score your performance. However, when you do this yourself, you tend to focus solely on what you did wrong.”

Judgment Leads to Perfectionism

A major problem which arises out of this constant judgment and scrutiny you place yourself under is perfectionism.

In the beginning you may believe you are judging yourself out of a desire to improve. And yes, that may be the case initially. Though, the more you locate what you did wrong, the stronger you seek perfection.

Negative emotions accompany continually falling short of perfection. These feelings are ones your mind wishes desperately to avoid in the future. The only way to do so is through perfection.

What happens is, you no longer allow yourself to make the mistakes necessary for growth and future success. Those mistakes are not perfection. Now you once again feel less than perfect, and the cycle continues.

Fear of Failure Is Born Through Judgment

Another mental game challenge you will be faced with as you keep negatively judging your performances is fear. Specifically the fear of failure.

While perfectionism seeks an idyllic perfect performance, fear of failure is scared of the mistakes you’ll inevitably make along the way.

Just as with perfectionism, negative emotions are to blame for your fear. The more you point out your mistakes and beat yourself up over them, the greater your fear becomes.

Our minds do not wish to be out of harmony, or to have such terrible thoughts flooding through them. As a safety mechanism, fear sets in to hopefully keep us from placing ourselves in a similar situation in the future.

What happens then is, you play fearfully. You tiptoe through competition, terrified of making even the slightest mistake.

Playing scared is no way to perform your best. You must have the courage to perform freely, which only comes through the acceptance of the possibility of failure.

By judging yourself in an improper way, focusing intensely on what you did wrong, you are welcoming this fear into your life. However, if you learn to evaluate your performance in a proper way, both the fear of failure and perfectionism can hope to be avoided.

4 Step Self-Evaluation Process

What I want you to understand is, the major key to any form of self-evaluation is the mindset you have approaching the practice.

Even if you follow these steps I’m about to outline, yet you still hold onto a judgment mentality, perfectionism and fear will still find a way to sidetrack your efforts.

So, while utilizing this four step process will help you get into a better mindset, you must decide right now that you’re going to make a change in the way you look back on your performances.

No more analyzing for what went wrong, in an attempt to punish yourself mentally and emotionally. It’s now time to healthily examine how you performed to build confidence and place yourself in a position for future success.

Step 1: Forget

Let’s say you just had a game, what’s the first step you need to take to evaluate your performance? Should you look back over your good plays? What about your mistakes? Is it time to examine them?

Not quite yet.

Immediately following a performance, the best thing you can do for yourself is to forget. Let go and preoccupy your mind with something else.

If you are around family, go get something to eat with them and enjoy their company. If you’re in college, go hang out with your friends. Maybe grab some food or drinks. Whatever you can do to help yourself forget about the game.

I know this may seem a bit odd, especially if you played well. However, by letting go of the performance for a while, you unlock an incredible power.

The power of time.

By allowing some time to pass, those initial negative emotions you so often feel, will fade away. Now you are in a position to objectively examine your performance without so much emotional interference.

“Immediately following a performance, the best thing you can do for yourself is to forget. Let go and preoccupy your mind with something else.”

Step 2: Ask “What Did I Do Right?”

There was a phrase I used time and time again throughout my training which did nothing but hurt me. It wasn’t until I was hitting in the cage with my mom one day that she pointed out a possible alternative.

You see, after every training session or game I would always ask myself, “What did I do wrong?”

Sound familiar?

This was coming from a place of false positivity. I believed by asking what I did wrong, I could then use that information to improve myself moving forward.

While that may be the case, and my physical skills improved with time, the psychological impact of this question counteracted any physical gains acquired.

Our minds are repetition machines. What we train ourselves to focus on and think about is going to become habitual. I trained myself to always find what I did wrong. This trained my mind to assume I was always falling short, destined to make a mistake.

What you want to do, and what my mom pointed out to me, is ask yourself, “What did I do right?”

For one, you are building confidence within yourself each time you locate something you did right. And two, you are placing your mind in a positive position, where you are now able to safely move onto step three.

Step 3: Ask Yourself “Where Can I Improve?”

This whole process is all about shifting your mindset and approach to self-evaluation. It’s as simple as altering the words you use.

Step two showed you how changing one word, wrong to right, completely shifted the way you examine your performances. Now it’s time to take a look at your mistakes, because they are necessary for your growth.

However, we shall not be using the word mistake at all. Instead, I want you to use a word that has a positive meaning, placing you in a growth mindset. Rather than looking for your mistakes, simply ask yourself, “Where can I improve?”

The beauty is, you don’t necessarily have to be looking for mistakes either. You could be saying you want to improve on some aspects you feel you did well.

An important step to the self-evaluation process is identifying areas of improvement. But you want to be careful not to become fixated on your mistakes.

By asking yourself what areas you can improve upon, your mind is geared towards growth as you move onto the final step.

“However, we shall not be using the word mistake at all. Instead, I want you to use a word that has a positive meaning, placing you in a growth mindset. Rather than looking for your mistakes, simply ask yourself, Where can I improve?

Step 4: Make A Plan & Move On

You’ve stepped away, focused on what you did right, and identified areas of improvement. Now what?

Well, seeing as the performance is over and your goal is to place yourself in a position for future success, there’s only one thing left to do. Make yourself a plan and get going!

This plan is going to be centered around what you seek to improve upon. Whether it’s your mindset, such as confidence or managing anxiety better, or a physical skill, you should compile yourself an action plan.

Once you create your plan, put it into practice, and now let go completely of the past performance. You’ve used it for all it’s worth.

The only way in which the past performance can serve you now is by providing you with memories of success to use in your visualization practice. Other than that, it’s time to let it go!

Final Thoughts

It’s natural to evaluate your performance. Good or bad you are going to go back over and analyze everything you did. My question is, is this evaluation process helping or hurting you?

Without a proper plan in place, it’s likely going to hurt you.

However, by utilizing a process, you can ensure your self-evaluation is priming you for future success.

After the game, forget about it for a while. When you’re ready, ask yourself what you did right, then look for areas you can improve upon. Once completed, piece together an action plan. At this point, it’s time to let the performance go.

Trust in your plan, and reassess after your next performance by once again following this same, repeatable process.

What does your evaluation process look like after a performance?

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did, please share it with others.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

Contact Success Starts Within Today

Please contact us to learn more about mental coaching and to see how it can improve your mental game and increase your performance. Complete the form below, call (252)-371-1602 or schedule an introductory coaching call here.

Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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