You want to be more successful? Have more free time? Be rich beyond your wildest dreams? Find love? Make your relationships flourish?
You’ve just found the answer.
Establishing a good level of self-awareness is the first and only domino you need to push to set things in motion when it comes to any of your goals – I promise you that one way or another, increasing your self-awareness will make everything you want will fall into your lap.
But there’s a catch:
Unlike those quirky ways of sorting your fridge or chopping a pineapple, this life-hack is going to take time – and effort.
Not ready for time and effort yet? No problem… bookmark this page and come back when you’re serious about achieving your goals…
What is self-awareness?
Before I go answering questions on what self-awareness is, it’s vitally important that you understand what it isn’t. So open up your copy of Mac Office 2016 and lets get ready to make some notes!
Ok, ready? well first of all It’s not:
- About becoming ‘one’ with the Earth/a divine being/all of humanity
- A kooky idea that’s only for people in therapy
- Going to lead you to abandoning your job
- An impossible goal
I just wanted to clear those things up. People can have some funny perceptions.
Self-awareness is for anyone who’s interested in knowing a bit more about those mysteries about yourself you can’t seem to get a handle on. Don’t know why you’re missing promotions? Not been able to hold-down a relationship? You procrastinate when you should work?
Let me make something absolutely clear to you:
These are not mysteries. They’re not even that hard to overcome. They’re all based on your behaviour. You’ve just got to know what it is that makes you behave in the way that has you getting what you have – rather than what you want.
Hacking your subconscious
Ever heard that thing about how humans “only use 10% of our brains” – or some other random but small figure?
I’ll save you a visit to Snopes – it’s not true. Let a brain surgeon lop the top of your cranium off and he or she would happily point at what each bit does.
All your brain areas are active at all times – however, as a species we don’t have access to everything that the brain holds at any one time. That’s not how it works, we couldn’t handle that much info. Instead, in basic terms, we’ve got a conscious and an unconscious.
Your conscious mind deals with your actions, the subconscious deals with reactions. I’m over simplifying here – but you don’t need a psychology PhD to work toward self-awareness.
And here’s the thing:
The VAST proportion of what we do is a reaction to stuff that’s going on around us – which means we’re almost entirely operating from our subconscious. Think about it – we don’t choose our mood, we don’t choose how productive we feel – If you want to change the way you behave, you’ve got to drag your behaviour out of your subconscious and into your conscious awareness.
Where to begin
People are generally better at giving other people advice than absorbing good advice into our lives. This is all down to objectivity – it’s far easier to get a good impression of how a person can work toward their goal if you can ‘rise above’ what’s happening and get more involved with strategy than the day-to-day struggles and reactions.
So, if you’re going to conquer your awareness – you need to break free of the day to day and start to observe yourself as objectively as possible.
Fortunately, we don’t have to tackle this alone – here are some tried and tested methods to elevate your awareness:
- Ask for feedback at work
Talking to people you work with for opinions on your attitude, work and general character is a great place to begin changing your perception. The key here is that people are honest with you – but making sure it’s done in a formal and constructive manner is important to ensure you’re not subjected to scathing criticisms!
Ideally, having a HR staff member facilitate is great – that way some mediation is achieved. If you’re a manager or occupy a senior position people might not be forth-coming in the stuff that they perceive to be critical (which in itself might be something to reflect on!) – so having a process and some pertinent questions really helps to achieve something positive.
Reflecting on what’s been said or noted is then vital. Some people can feel like anything but praise is a wound – but that doesn’t need to be the case – would you rather know what people think and act accordingly to adjust anything that you’re not happy with – or stroll through life unaware of the barriers you’re putting up?
- Talk to your friends
In a similar manner to work based feedback – feedback from friends and loved ones is another important part of shining some light on the behaviours, attitudes and perceptions you’re not currently aware of.
While the formality of the work based exercise might not be appropriate – you’ll find friends are more likely to share their observations of you and your behaviours from the safety of your current relationship. Again, honesty is important – so letting someone know you’re looking to expand your perception will stop them from just appeasing you with compliments!
- Work out what kind of personality you have
You might have seen tools like Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram that are used to distinguish your specific personality type. They’re generally a series of tests or thinking exercises that put you into a specific category or combination of categories.
From there, you can look at the typical behaviours and attitudes that someone in that category might embody. They’re not always perfect – but considering the points is a really useful way of thinking about what truly drives you and makes you tick.
If you’ve turned your nose up at the thought of meditation – you don’t know enough about it! Meditation isn’t something that’s reserved for monks on mountain tops – quite the opposite really. In his book, ‘Tools of Titans’ self-development guru Tim Ferriss charts his discussions with the most successful people he’s interviewed – from Hollywood A-listers to billionaires and professional athletes – and the overwhelming majority of them practice some form of meditation and attribute it to their success.
Clearing your mind of the daily ‘noise’ can be an exceptional way to elevate yourself to a more objective standpoint. Effectively you’re slowing your busy brain down – and in doing so, giving yourself a chance to look at your actions with a less judgemental frame of reference.
Awareness is all about information – the more of it you have the better you can strategise. Sure, you might not like everything that comes to the fore – but if you want to improve you’ve got to know what your strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies are.
You wouldn’t expect a sports coach to tell a team how to improve if he hadn’t seen the game or spoken to any of them – and you shouldn’t expect to improve your life without all the knowledge that goes toward making it what it is today.