Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.
We might quickly assume that we are self-aware, but it is helpful to have a relative scale for awareness. If you have ever been in an auto accident you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion and noticed details of your thought process and the event. This is a state of heightened awareness. With practice we can learn to engage these types of heightened states and see new opportunities for interpretations in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations. Having awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behavior and beliefs.
Self-awareness is the first step in creating what you want and mastering your life. Where you focus your attention, emotions, reactions, personality and behavior determine where you go in life. Having self-awareness allows you to see where your thoughts and emotions are taking you. It also allows you to take control of your emotions, behavior, and personality so you can make the changes you want. Until you are aware in the moment of your thoughts, emotions, words and behavior you will have difficulty making changes in the direction of your life.
How to Practice Self-Awareness
In the context of lifestyle design, self-awareness is the first step toward designing your lifestyle around the work you’ve always wanted to do.
It is the mechanism for acquiring self-knowledge, the path to learning which habits you need to alter to start working on your terms.
The first step for practicing self-awareness is gaining a greater awareness of your emotions.
We have been taught to shut our feelings out of our decision-making process and to rely solely on our rational thoughts.
I believe this puts our decision-making process out of balance. When we rely solely on our rational thoughts, we often make decisions to try to live up to someone else’s ideals.
Our feelings are the internal advocate for our own ideals. To make effective decisions, we need both rational thoughts and our feelings. We need to pay attention to our gut as much as our brain.
I didn’t become actively self-aware of my feelings until my early 30s. I suffered from chronic anxiety throughout much of my career, and I owe that to my deficient awareness of my feelings.
Bring greater awareness to your feelings by including them in your decisions. Listen to your gut and explore why your feelings might object to the decision of one of your rational thoughts.
Ask yourself, “Where is that feeling coming from?” Make a habit of recognizing your feelings.
The second step to practicing self-awareness is making a habit of tracking your feelings.
Very simply, start writing down your most positive feelings and your most negative feelings. Keep a journal or note on your phone. Try it for at least 30 days.
Begin to notice patterns and trends. This simple practice will help you better define your purpose, your values, your motivations, and anything holding you back from the work you’ve always wanted to do.
I like to think of monitoring your feelings as communicating with your subconscious mind. It’s your true inner voice. It often knows what you want in life before you are able to put it into words.
The third step for practicing self-awareness is expanding your practice to areas of your life beyond your feelings.
There are countless areas of your life you can monitor, but you should focus on areas you believe will have the greatest impact on designing your ideal lifestyle.
Once you’ve gotten experience with tracking your feelings, I recommend tracking your energy next. This will help you identify your “peak performance period” each day. These are the period(s) of the day when you are most energized, focused, and able to create your highest quality work. Tracking your energy will also provide insights into what motivates you and what drains you.
Perform daily self-reflection.
In order to have self-awareness, you must do self-reflection. This requires setting aside some time, hopefully every day, to honestly look at yourself as a person and a leader. Committing to this practice can help you improve.
In our demanding business world, daily self-reflection is easier said than done. There is always pressure to do more with less, and an endless flow of information through our portable technology.
Because it takes time to self-reflect, start by setting aside just 15 minutes each day. Self-reflection is most effective when you use a journal and write down your thoughts. It’s also best to find a quiet place to think.
Keep a journal.
You can write about anything in your journal, even if it is not related to your goals. Recording your thoughts on paper helps to relieve your mind of those ideas and clears it up to make space for new information and ideas.
Take some time each night to write in your journal about your thoughts and feelings, and your successes and failures for the day. This will help you grow and move forward in your achievements.
As you self-reflect, take some time to think about how you are as a leader, and how people working under you likely view you. Think about what you do to help other people, and if you could possibly do more. What are your values, and what is most important to you right now?
All of these self-reflection questions will help you get a better idea of who you are and what you want out of life right now.