Imagine trying to ride a motorcycle and not knowing how to control it or what inputs make it perform the way it does. Understanding how the controls work, how your actions and the actions of other influence your ride is critical to a safe and enjoyable ride.
Yet many people go through life, unaware of what influences their behavior and how they influence others. Increasing your self-awareness helps you identify thoughts and emotions that control your confidence, your effectiveness and ultimately your sense of fulfillment.
9 Ways to Increase Self-Awareness
- Identify your values. Values are the things you believe are important in how you live your life. When your actions match your values, things are good and you feel fulfilled. When there’s a disconnect, things feel off and you’re unhappy. Values can change over time and they exist whether you recognize them or not.
- List your achievements. This accomplishes two things. First, it brings your success to the forefront. It’s easy to forget where we’ve been. More importantly, it feeds you information about your values and strengths you may not have been conscious of.
- Identify your strengths. Everyone has unique gifts. Look at what you do well at and where your successes are. Focus on your strengths and leverage that energy to create synergy and momentum.
- Identify your weaknesses. You can’t be good at everything. While it’s good to know what they are, spending inordinate time trying to develop weaknesses is a waste of time and diverts energy. Use that energy to build on your strengths.
- Observe others. People are your teachers, act as mirrors and are attracted into your life for a reason. Most have qualities you admire and want to see more of in yourself. Others have qualities you dislike and don’t want. All have lessons for you. Look for them.
- Look at what you love. Make three lists: things that seem easy for you, things that make you happy and activities you do where time flies by. Find the common areas and use them to work to your greatest potential.
- Look at what you dislike. Make three different lists: things that are hard for you, things that make you angry or upset and activities which seem to never end. Find the common areas. This time, acknowledge them and park them. Unless they’re creating dysfunction, spending time here is not productive.
- Observe your surroundings. Look around your home and work environment. What items are on display? Which books are on your bookshelf? Whose pictures are on the shelf? Are your closets overflowing with things you haven’t used in years? Your living space tells you where your heart is.
- Identify your patterns. Everyone has them; many are not aware of them. List the times you were happiest. Identify the occasion, your role and how you responded. Now do the same with the times you were most upset. How can you turn that around next time?
Self-awareness holds the key to navigating your life’s Road through good times or construction. Just like any skill, it takes work to develop. But it’s worth it. It allows you to make better choices and enriches your life.