We know that self-awareness is important, but how do you develop it? And, what’s the use?
One school of thought goes like this: Just live long enough and do a lot of stuff – eventually you will know yourself. Alright, but what if that takes 60 years? I’m not impatient and I have no trouble waiting. But that approach is a little too passive for me. I think you can accelerate the process of developing self-awareness by examining yourself consciously. Let me share with you how I’ve gone about knowing myself better and how I use it in my daily life.
I started by answering these 27 questions:
- What am I good at?
- What am I so-so at?
- What am I bad at?
- What makes me tired?
- How much sleep do I need?
- What is the most important thing in my life?
- Who are the most important people in my life?
- What stresses me out?
- What motivates me?
- What things or actions can help me regain motivation after I lose it?
- What relaxes me?
- What’s my definition of success?
- What type of work would I also do for free?
- What are my most productive hours of the day?
- What’s my favorite way of learning?
- How do I want others to see me?
- What behaviors do I not like about other people?
- What makes me sad?
- How do I manage negative thoughts and feelings?
- What makes me happy?
- What makes me afraid?
- What makes me angry?
- What type of friend do I want to be?
- What do I think about myself?
- What things do I value in life?
- Is there something in my life that I’m taking for granted?
- What do I respect about myself?
Answer these questions with the initial response that pops up in your mind. As you can see, these are all practical questions. Please don’t start a internal discussion about interpreting these questions. If you do that, you will be still at it 50 years from now. The truth is that everyone interprets these questions in a different way. And that’s exactly the point. It’s called self-awareness for a reason. It’s about you. You see, there are no right or wrong answers. The point is to catch some insight, a glimpse, into the frameworks that truly shape your mindsets, your energy and ultimately your days.
What’s more important is to practice your thinking muscle with those questions – just give an answer (don’t say “I don’t know”). Now comes the most important part: Use that information to improve your life. You do that by reasoning, you are developing your “logos” here (not your brand mark or logo). Aristotle called it ‘logos’ (different from the Stoic definition of logos). For Aristotle, logos is something more refined than the capacity to make private feelings public: it enables the human being to perform as no other animal can; it makes it possible for him to perceive and make clear to others through reasoned discourse the difference between what is advantageous and what is harmful, between what is just and what is unjust, and between what is good and what is evil.
To me, self-awareness and self improvement are the ability to translate your feelings into words and to give it meaning. You can’t do that until you have peered behind the curtain to find the proverbial little man turning the dials and making the show look and feel as it does. Once you have peered behind the curtains of your mind you can discover which things are advantageous and which things are harmful for yourself and the steps you take each day. So sit down take on a few questions and really look within for not just answers, but the feelings and mindsets that create those answers. We are all equipped with a box of big beautiful crayons to color our lives with. Many of realize that at a young age, we just fail to see the sharpener on the back of the box and find our selves trying to create a masterpiece with a broken knub of our potential.
Peace and Love, Jim