The key to changing your life is self-awareness. To be self-aware is to examine your state, conduct and motives. It’s the core of our character, giving us a better understanding of who we are.
I like this quote from author, Kilroy J. Oldster, “A person must move beyond guilt and unexamined thoughts and motives in order to discover a purpose for living vibrantly.” Being self-aware allows you to lead a life of purpose from a place of authenticity.
Until recently, I thought being self-aware was selfish. I did not want to be guilty of being “into” myself, or “too” focused on me. Now I realize that those thoughts were exactly why I needed to be more self-aware. I needed to examine myself so that I could live a life full of purpose and meaning. So I challenged myself to take inventory and write down the things that I needed to do and or change in order to be truer to myself.
This activity was not drawn out, I literally took 3 short days, of paying close attention to my actions, thoughts, behaviors, and feelings and here’s what I found:
I did not have a clear perception of myself – my personality, emotions, weaknesses, and beliefs.
Over the years, I have adjusted to all that life has thrown my way, and I adopted thoughts, habits and beliefs that were not my own. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were left questioning “how did I get here?” I had to get clear, and take a deep dive into who I am. I observed my mood and feelings at 3 specific times throughout the day. I wanted to understand how different activities affected my behaviors and thoughts.
I had a hard time focusing my attention with intention of making things better.
My mind would be on a thousand things at once. I could be writing a blog post, then jump right over and send an email. I would break my concentration to the point of major setback. There were times when I would not complete the things that I needed to do for myself, in an effort to get things done for others. Are you that way? Do you have trouble focusing at times? I began paying attention to my behaviors, emotions and energy. I became more mindful of what I was doing and what I needed to accomplish at the time. It was hard to admit that I was not as focused as I thought I was, but I see the difference in my behaviors now. I am more intentional about what I do. I am carving out time to complete tasks, to do lists, and be present during family time.
I was not the best listener.
That just stung for me to admit that. I realized that I was good at hearing, but not so good at listening – and it’s not the same thing. What’s interesting about that is, I was still pretty good at paying attention to body language and emotions, but I was not fully listening because I was constantly evaluating and thinking of a response to what I was hearing. Are you like that? If so, by becoming a good listener, you become better at listening to your own inner voice. When I removed the distractions of my own thoughts, I was able to listen and process what I was hearing before trying to form my response.
I rarely set goals, tracked my progress or celebrated my wins.
I’ve always had goals, but I never wrote them down or even visualized them in a true tangible way. I did not keep track of the progress that I made in areas of my life. If I overcame an obstacle, I did not give much thought to the how. Once it was over, it was over. Which made it really hard to celebrate my wins – big or small. Are you writing down your goals, tracking your progress and celebrating your wins? If not, start today. It’s a great way to re-evaluate yourself, and stay on track of reaching your goal. When I started writing my goals down, I found that I was more apt to complete it, it was if I become one with those things I wrote down to accomplish. Time stamping my goals helps me to complete them.
Author, Matthew Donnelly once said, “Life is one large process of creation: Self-Examination and introspection is simply to figure out what you want to create in this moment.” I love this quote! Basically, the more you pay attention to your emotions, feelings and habits, the easier it is to improve on those habits and be your authentic self.
By becoming more self-aware, you can change your thinking – which will change your behaviors and ultimately your life. After my short 3-day self-awareness experiment, I’ve decide to be more intentional about my periods of self-examination. I am scheduling time to examine myself quarterly.
Are you self-aware? What have you learned about yourself? Having a clear understanding of how your past and life experiences has shaped you, is key to knowing who we are. I would love to hear what you’ve learned about yourself through self-awareness exercises.