Criticality versus Judgment

Criticality is the process of analyzing how you could do something better.

Judgment is the process of applying a subjective, emotional, value to that something.

In critical analysis you view the facts of the situation to understand your current reality. You can then measure those facts against your goals. From here you can understand the gap between where you are and where you want to be, and make a useful plan to cross that gap.

<Goals> – <current reality> = <gap>
<Gap> + <critical analysis> = <plan>
<Plan> + <action> = <goals>

When you introduce emotional judgments: “I should have done better”, “I can’t believe I did that”, “I suck”. You bring in no useful data. Your personal judgments of the situation don’t tell you more about your current reality (other than the fact that you’re being down on yourself) and give nothing useful for planning toward your goals.

Being critical of your performance is valuable. Judging your performance is not.

For many of us the process of critical analysis and negative self-judgment have become bonded with one another. If this is the case, you may avoid analysis altogether out of a fear of bringing in that judgmental voice. If you do this, you’re throwing out something useful.

The trick is to develop the ability to separate the critical from the judgment; To retain the facts and pitch the negative self-talk.

The first step in this is simply to realize that the facts and the judgment are indeed separate and that the process of judging is not useful for planning. Practice looking at the facts. When you hear the monkey in the back of your mind start adding unnecessary admonishment, dial down the volume, and focus on the plan instead.