What is Self-Awareness?
It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s trying to get healthy, overcoming a bad relationship, being more productive in your goals, aspirations, and career ambitions, developing self-awareness is the first step to getting you there. Self-awareness is having a clear representation of your personality – what your strengths, weaknesses, values, principles, beliefs, feelings, thoughts and emotions are. Once you understand the real you – what drives you, what inspires you, the easier it will be to focus your energy on what is important to you right now and where you want to be in your career and life. It involves listening to your inner gut (your instinct) as well as your body, then taking action based on what you feel and hear.
Whether your ambition is to build solid relationships or get certain about your future, you first need to understand yourself more. Once you understand yourself more and develop more self-awareness, you become more mindful of your emotions and behaviors and how they have an impact on you and those around you. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, and the ability to detect how they perceive you to be.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” Aristotle
12 ways to become more self-aware
Think about the following scenario. A solid foundation is essential to build any house or building. Once the foundation is laid and the necessary supports are put in place, only then, can the remaining structure be built. Without a solid foundation, cracks begin to appear and the building may collapse. The same applies to your personal growth and development. Self-awareness is the foundation and the most important piece of the jigsaw to personal growth and success. It determines nearly everything, including whether you are able to stay driven, inspired and achieve your goals. Taking the time to plan your life and career goals instead of just letting it happen to you, is the key to having a successful career and living an extraordinary life. So how do we understand ourselves? How do we become more self-aware?
Great leaders know themselves well. And if you want to be just as successful in life, then the first step to becoming more self-aware is becoming more authentic with yourself. It’s about understanding your true self and realistically assessing your current situation in life. What your strengths and weaknesses are, knowing the things you can do well and knowing the things you are not so good at. What are your values? Only by being authentic, allows us to move forward, knowing who we are, and where we are going. And when you start to become more authentic, you don’t need to constantly seek the approval of others or focus on being popular. People are naturally attracted to genuine authentic people.
The second step to self awareness is knowing your personality type. What are you really like? We often describe people as being either introverted, extroverted or ambivert. Which are you?
Introverted personalities usually prefer solitude and are generally prone to self-reflection. They tend to be more quiet and reserved. You could say they are more focused on their internal awareness, their inner thoughts, feelings and moods known as their inner landscape. And when we look at extroverted personalities they tend to be more talkative, sociable, action-oriented, enthusiastic, friendly, and out-going. They are more energized when being around other people. Extroverts are more interested in their external awareness – their outer landscape.
So you’re probably wondering which type are you? People struggle with answering this question. Like most people, you probably have a mixture of both personality types known as an ambivert. You may be someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion. If you’re not sure whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, there are plenty of online tests to help you figure it out. Do online free personality assessments like https://my-personality-test.com or https://myrealpersonality.com/en or Enneagram.
One of the most popular tests out there is the The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and was designed to help you better understand what makes you tick, how you relate to others, and how you can benefit from this knowledge in everyday life. Before taking these tests answer honestly, even if you don’t like the answer and try not to leave any “neutral” answers. https://www.myersbriggs.org/
Now that you have identified your personality, the next step is to identify your strengths. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fix our shortcomings than developing and focusing on our strengths.
To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder in the 2001 management book “Now, Discover you Strengths”. The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists and ignited a global conversation, while StrenthsFinder helped millions to discover their Top 5 Talents In StrengthFinder 2.0 Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. While you can read this book in one sitting, you’ll use it as a reference for decades. Strengthscenter
Ask trusted friends to describe you
How would your friends describe you? This is a common question you may encounter during an interview. When the interviewer asks this, it is because they want to assess how others perceive you to be, how self-aware you are and how you work with a team. How are we supposed to know what other people think of us? Do a 360 review of yourself and ask your friends for an open, honest, and real perception of you. Tell them they are doing it for your personal improvement and development. Ask them to be open and frank as possible and be prepared to not like everything you hear. If they are uncomfortable telling you then you can suggest they write it to you anonymously.
Have you ever asked yourself what the real power behind your decisions are? Why you decided one situation over another? For instance why do you prefer working for a company rather than working on your own? Or why are you with the person you are in a relationship with right now?
Personal values are the general expression of what is most important for you. Values are shaped from early childhood and are later re-evaluated in life. Values can be changed anytime throughout life. Don’t let other people dictate your values. Yes we grew up with values stemmed from childhood. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they apply to you today as a adult. Accept that it’s completely up to you to manage your values regardless of how other people think.
Core values answer the question: what’s most important to me right now? List 5-6 of the most important values in your life. Popular examples are: Integrity, Family, Wealth, Health, Love, Innovation, Freedom, Integrity etc. When you become aware of your personal values, you can evaluate if you’re living in accord with them.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-reflection as “meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.”. It’s about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behaviour, values and beliefs. Why is self-reflection so important? It’s necessary to understand yourself at a much deeper level almost peeling back the layers of an onion. Take a few minutes out each evening to reflect on your behaviour for the day. How do you perceive yourself? How do others perceive you? What can I learn from observing my behaviour today?
Taking a step back from any situation, you gain a new understanding. After a while you get to see a better picture rather than just a piece of the puzzle. When you reflect, you can begin to clearly see what’s working and what is not. Reflecting this way allows you to make better decisions and change your actions. So how do you reflect? Think of Sherlock Holmes. When he looks at a situation and tries to solve something, he first takes a step back, removes himself from the scene of the investigation entirely, and in time, by gives himself a day or so to reflect on the events. The technique is an important one to remember whenever you try to form a broad picture of something or gain perspective on a choice, however specific it may be.
Create a Blueprint – Your personal Vision
Many of us will just drift along and let our career and life just happen as it comes. As we move on in years, we tend to go through a period of self-reflection and question what’s really going on and what are we really here to do? Think for a moment – have you ever gone on social media and started comparing yourself more and more to your other friends and co-workers? You may start feeling increasingly regretful and self-conscious. You may feel this strong drive to live with more purpose, but you don’t even know what that purpose is. It feels like you are stuck in an endless traffic jam just trying to get from point A to B. This is normal for us humans as we strive for constant happiness and success.
Like all good artists, we need a blueprint to guide our work, a space to carry out our work, and the necessary tools to help us accomplish that work. First up – creating a blueprint. It is highly valuable because it forms a clearer picture of your desired reality. Without the blueprint it can become quite difficult to complete your goals. When creating your blueprint, you have to ask yourself are you living the life you want or are you’re simply going through the motions as you try to gain the approval of everyone around you. Do you understand and cherish your values? Are these values your own or influenced by others? Do you know where you are going in your career and what is your plan for the next couple of years? Do you know your purpose? Are you goals achievable and are you taking action towards those goals?
Drafting your blueprint for the next few years of your life is a huge task and its not something you can complete in a few hours. It will take a lot of time, thinking, writing, and soul searching. The best way to draft your blueprint is to dedicate some time on your own, whether it’s a quiet weekend away from home or to break the process up over a few days.
Journal your thoughts
If you don’t have a journal, head to the store and find one you like. Writing has been proven to facilitate new levels of understanding and significantly reduce levels of stress. Moreover, when you write something down, you are able to process it in a different way. And once it’s there and visible, then you have a greater ability to tackle it head on, or let it go.
Schedule some daily or weekly downtime time where you have space, feel quiet and can focus., even if it’s for a couple of minutes. This will help you grow and move forward in your achievements. You can write about anything in your journal, thoughts and feelings and reflections you had that day. What you write doesn’t have to be related to work or your goals.
Writing your life story so far..
Your life story so far is an essential component of your personality today. Your story so far can focus on any event, whether it is one that lasted a few moments or it spanned a few years. You can write your most memorable experiences that reflects your personality today, or it can reveal an event that shaped your values, beliefs and outlooks. Your story so far can state memories that were both good and bad that shaped your life as of up to today. Your story should be relevant:
- you can write about a learning experience that challenged and one that changed you Think about things you are proud of, or any accomplishments that really stand out throughout your life.
- you could describe a new discovery that came about in an interesting way (through travelling, learning or from work)
- you could write about a lesson you learned the hard way (something you failed at but learned from)
In the end, you will come out with a fresh new perspective on yourself and your life.
Meditation is a practice where an individual allows their mind to focus on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Bringing meditation into your daily life, not only will improve your self-awareness, but also improves your overall health and well-being.
Meditation is not difficult to learn. It is a skill, and like learning any new skill, it takes time, dedication and patience to learn. There are many apps out there such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace, and Calm or check out the many videos on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzV6J4WCwRM.
Read self-development books
When you stop reading , you stop progressing and end up becoming stagnant in your career and personal growth. Those who are already reading are progressing and are more confident and competent at what they do, which inspires them to take on more innovative or challenging tasks. Learning is a treasure that will follow its people everywhere. In the end the secret to happiness and success is progress. We give you 5 top books to read in our self awareness category over the coming days. We spoke about one book last week. The Subtle art of not giving and f*ck by Mark Manson where we gave you a cracking summary. You can read it here.
Listen to podcasts about self awareness
We are accountable for our own goals, career and personal development. Listening to podcasts have several benefits such as improving knowledge and getting inspired by others peoples experiences and stories. It’s easier than ever to find, subscribe and listen to literally thousands of podcasts on every topic from news, business, comedy, education, sports, technology, music, health, spirituality, hobbies, and many more. Do you want to work on your own personal development? How about learning more about your career or profession or listening to experts in your field? We give you the list of top 5 podcasts to listen to on self-awareness and mindfulness over the coming days.