Self-awareness means having a deeper understanding of who you are, how you came to be that way, and why you do the things that you do in the way that you do them! In other words, accepting yourself for who you are , and feeling comfortable in your own skin. So why bother seeking greater self-awareness? Knowing more about yourself helps you to improve your life – when you learn what you’re good at, as well as areas that you can improve, you can live a more fulfilled life. Here is a seven-step process to help you become more self-aware, and in the process move closer to living your perfect life:
1. Do a Self-Assessment
You need to figure out who you are, to determine who and what you want to become. In other words, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Quickly write these down on a piece of paper – don’t make any judgements as you write, as the idea is to rapidly capture your thoughts and impressions without filtering them. Be as honest as possible, so that you can find areas that you might work on later.
When you’re feeling relaxed, take a few minutes to reflect on who you are and how you react to events in your life. Then take out your strengths / weaknesses list from Step 1 and use this reflective process to see if there is anything you want to add or modify. This process of inner reflection allows you to peel back the outer layers of your self-image, revealing who you are at your inner core.
3. Determine What You Want Out of Life
The next step is to look at the current circumstances of your life, and compare them to where you wanted to be, or thought you would be, by this stage of your life. For many people, there is a gap – often a big gap! Sometimes that gap is based on external comparisons – although it could be nice to have a movie-star lifestyle, for most of us this will never be the reality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t decide to be happy where you are, with what you’ve got.
4. Set some goals
Based on step 3, try and set some realistic goals about what you want your life to look like in six months, twelve months, and ten years from now. The goal here is to try to be realistic but ambitious. So why these three timeframes? Because it takes time to create meaningful and enduring change in your life. Shorter time-frames can let you down when things don’t quickly go your way – having longer term goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. And as Tony Robbins says – “People overestimate what they can do in a year, but underestimate what they can do in a decade”.
5. Create a Vision Board
There’s been a lot of hype over the last few years about vision boards, for good reason – THEY WORK! When you invest your time and energy into creating a meaningful visual representation of how you want your life to be, you end up with a permanent reminder of your designed future, as well as a tool that makes it more likely you’ll actually get there. Make your vision board as rich and as colourful as you can, with vivid and emotionally-laden images and words. Once completed, hang it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.
6. Revisit your self-assessment
Spend a few minutes looking at your vision board, imagining what it will be like achieving the things that you’ve put on there, feeling what it will be like to live that life you’ve designed for yourself. Now it’s time to bring out your strength / weaknesses list again. While imagining and feeling your perfect future, review your list, and notice which ones move you closer to your goals, and which ones hold you back.
7. Bring it home
Now down to the nitty gritty. Based on the process that you’ve just completed, identify two or three things (at the most) that you might want to work on or change, and then identify the one single thing that you are going to work on first. Try to be brutally honest – these are the things that are holding you back from your perfect future! Decide to change them, or get rid of them all together and replace them with more productive habits and traits. Once you’ve decided which ones to target, write down some ideas about how to do that – more about that in another post!
Let your friends and family tell you what you’re good at. People are often humble about the good aspects of their lives – We tend to downplay our assets and gifts, and focus too much mental energy on what we aren’t good at. Your friends and family usually know what you are good at – so ask them! And then update the strengths side of your list.