If you take a survey of most people who are considered “highly successful” in our society, you’ll see that they have many different traits, but they also have many similarities. One of the biggest similarities is their capacity for self-awareness.
Some people have a greater tendency to develop self-awareness than others but it isn’t something that’s given out for free.
You are not born with self-awareness, it’s something that needs to be developed, then honed and refined like a skill.
There’s no shortcut, but here’s a quick primer on becoming more self-aware. First, why is self-awareness crucial?
Why Self-Awareness Is Essential
We live in a world with a ton of information.
Money-making opportunities, career paths, entertainment options, the list goes on and on. It would take several lifetimes to experience it all.
But we don’t have several lifetimes, we only have this lifetime, which is quickly fleeting.
If you’re not self-aware, you risk the possibilities of wasting large amounts of time on things that offer you no value or don’t cater towards your long-term goals, whatever they may be.
You don’t want to be 68 years old looking back on your life with a twinge of regret saying “if only”. You avoid all of this by recognizing what is and isn’t important to you – aka being self-aware.
Here’s 6 habits you can start implementing today that the self-aware use to live a life where they are the master, not the servant.
Habit #1: Be Impartial
Stepping outside of your own bias and preconceived notions is a hard thing to do, but it is possible (to a degree).
Imagine life as feedback. Second by second, minute by minute, day after day, you are receiving feedback based on your actions. Your actions are causing an effect. This feedback doesn’t care how you feel about it, it’s all impartial.
This feedback is an opportunity to use optimization data to adjust your future efforts.
If you want to make more money or have more friends, but these things aren’t showing up in your life, it’s a crystal clear signal that you need to adjust your efforts. Adjust your life accordingly.
Habit #2: Respect the Value of Time
There’s only two real responses to the inevitability of time passing:
- You waste it doing things that bring you no closer to your goals
- You use it doing things that do bring you closer to your goals
Self-aware people realize that everything is temporary. The person’s who’s one-up can soon become one-down and visa-versa.
They realize that they won’t be young forever, windows of opportunity will pass, and this day will never come again.
This creates a sense of extreme urgency to get things right on the first try, learn new skills quickly, and make the most of any moment.
You can only do that by making the most of the time you have available to you.
Habit #3: Know Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Motivations
Self-aware people realize that everyone has different likes, dislikes, inclinations, and motivations. Some of this is due to genetics (nature), some of it due to environment and upbringing (nurture).
You have things you are naturally good at and things that take little effort for you to achieve big results.
Likewise, you also have areas that bring you “ok” results even though you try very hard at them.
These may tell you where your natural strengths and weaknesses lie.
Those who are self-aware play up to their strengths and downplay/correct their weaknesses overtime instead of trying to cater to their weaknesses. They know exactly where they are weak and where exactly they are strong.
If you know where you’re strong and where you’re weak, you can choose a career that will make you seem like a “natural genius”, something you can create your own “Blue Ocean Strategy” with lower effort than someone else.
Most importantly of all, self-aware people never lie to themselves about what they’re motivated by and their areas of excellence or potential areas for improvement.
The question you need to ask yourself falls along the lines of “am I really strong in this area or do I need help and guidance?” This question is very important and many people never ask themselves this because of ego.
Habit #4: Create Clarity Rather Than Confusion
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
Self-aware people are always asking the question “what’s important here?” in almost every situation.
Instead of getting involved in petty squabbles that don’t contribute to their long-term goals and overall grand strategy, they have a clear, mountaintop view of where they need to go next, then they just do it. They just go and keep going.
The goal informs the strategy. Do you know where you want to be in a year? Two years? Five years? You’ll only know through a disciplined process of goal and agenda setting.
Break larger goals into smaller, mini-goals, so you can have a consistent source of motivation.
Habit #5: Do a “Life Audit” Every 6-12 Months
This goes hand in hand with the previous habit. Self-aware people tend to reflect…a lot. This is usually on a daily basis through some type of medium like a journal or even a voice recorder.
Most importantly, most self-aware people hold a major life audit at least yearly to measure where they are in comparison with where they want to be in their mind.
They record vital metrics such as how satisfied with their life they are right now, their life situation, their current levels of health, their current levels of financial fitness…etc. Here’s some questions to ask yourself during your life audit:
- How happy are you with your current life circumstances? What are you pleased about? What do you wish could be better?
- How is your current level of health? What’s your weight, your blood pressure? How much sleep are you averaging a night?
- Do you have close and intimate relationships with other people? If not, what stops you from getting them?
- What does your financial snapshot look like? Is your net worth increasing? Are you getting out of or into more debt?
Going with point # 4, it is easy to lie to others; harder to lie to yourself.
Don’t be afraid to seek outside help for this either. Ask people around you different questions about how you appear to them.
If you want to be really ambitious about this, make a “theme for the season”. Every season offers new opportunities for personal growth and challenge, allowing you to set specific goals.
If you’ve been working a lot, a great goal would be saving up for a well-earned trip to Hawaii in the summer. Write it down, visualize it, and find ways to make it happen.
Habit #6: Understand the Difference Between Pleasure and Fulfillment
Our DNA, psychology, and physiology come from a time when the world was a very scarce and harsh place. As a result, we are primed towards “getting all that we can before its gone”.
We no longer live in that world, but our programming still hasn’t changed. There are many things in this world that play on our natural reward-motivation behavior system.
Drugs, too much Internet, fast food, super shocking TV – these things all stimulate us in some way. But after they stimulate us, they often leave a residue of hollowness and emptiness.
Generally speaking, anything that gives you instant gratification is going to be of a stimulatory nature. It often shoots you way up and leaves you way back down. Since you’re down, you need more of a hit to go back up. You can spend months, years, your entire life, chasing this feeling of see-saw stimulation.
Self-aware people are quick to spot things that play on human motivation and downplay them to a massive degree or even avoid them entirely because they know it will derail them from their long-term vision.
So there it is, 6 things that self-aware people do on a consistent basis to create a life of their choosing. In order to get this going in your life, pick one habit and take action on it immediately.
What are you going to do to bring more self-awareness into your life? Post in the comments.
Sim Campbell has made it his mission to examine what it means to live an expansive and fulfilling life in the modern world as an emerging young man. He talks about this on Unstoppable Rise, a site dedicated to relentless personal development with a strong philosophical slant.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.