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Using Self-Assessment to Visualize and Realize Your Future Self

By Paul Lief Rosengren

IEEE-USA has just published The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials: Book 2: Self-Assessment, the second e-book in the series, by Terence Yeoh, Ph.D., PMP.

In his newest e-book, Yeoh outlines three failures of individuals:

  1. Failure to correctly gauge your potential, thereby limiting yourself (a failure of youth).
  2. Failure to adequately recognize your limitations, thereby overstretching yourself (a failure of midlife).
  3. Failure to realize that balance is dynamic, and can only be achieved in motion, not stillness (a failure late in life).

Yeoh notes that it is common to look at yourself and others, and attribute successes to hard work or luck. He suggests, however, that regardless of one’s life stage, successful individuals focus on their skills to expand their strengths — and recognize that “every weakness can be harnessed for even greater strength.”

The first step in this exercise is self-assessment. Yeoh discusses several self-assessments, starting with a simplified personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunity and threats). He encourages readers to draw on their own observations, as well as the input of others (a friend, a coworker and a relative) to effectively develop a 360 assessment.

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Yeoh also discusses the value of taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and understanding where you fall in four areas: Worldview (Extrovert vs Introvert), Information (Intuitive vs Sensing), Decisions (Feeling vs Thinking) and Structure (Judging vs Perceiving). While MBTI is often used to understand how different personality types can better work together, the author sees it as a starting point to better understand yourself. Specifically, he states that it can help you understand “your preferred modes of interaction… and how you will react under pressure.”

Yeoh shares his own 360 and MBTI evaluations to illustrate how you can use these insights. He suggests it is valuable to share these evaluations with a mentor, helping to generate conversations — “enabling a vulnerability and intimacy that is both genuine, but also controlled and focused.”

As in his first book, Yeoh draws on his knowledge of optimizing a car to make a comparison about how individuals can improve their own performance. He points out that to improve engine performance, you take it apart, and evaluate how you can enhance each component. The author urges readers to apply this same technique to themselves and their own careers.

While these self-assessments are the results of the paths and decisions an individual has taken in the past, Yeoh urges the reader not to dwell on the “what ifs” and “what could have beens.” Instead, he ends the book by encouraging readers to use their self-assessment to influence their future selves. He suggests envisioning your future-self five, ten, or twenty years from now; then encourages you to work backwards in one-year increments, to determine a realistic path to the future envisioned. He likens it to plotting from “the near-infinite combinations of the multiverse, the steps you need to take to be that future you.”

In doing this year-to-year plan, Yeoh suggests you think not just about what you will be doing but who you will be doing it with. Asking yourself questions such as:

  • Who will I be spending the most time with?
  • What do they value?
  • How can I bring value to those around me?

Yeoh sums up his philosophy in writing this book: “The Ultimate Upgrade is something more than just increasing your productivity, creativity and ingenuity. It is about a new way to frame your life — not around gain, but around building individual robustness.”

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The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials – Book 2: Self-Assessment is available to IEEE members for free at IEEE-USA’s online shop. Non-members pay $2.99.

An IEEE Senior Member, Dr. Terence Yeoh has been a technical and career development contributor to IEEE since 1999. He has held a variety of career roles in systems engineering, R&D portfolio management, program management, and corporate strategy. Yeoh holds eleven patents in such areas as infrared microscopy, compressive sensing, and artificial intelligence. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, writing code, and driving his Mustang. This e-book was based on his YouTube series: Yeoh on the Go, Seasons 1 & 2.

Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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