When I first started working after graduation, my mind was focused on making it. I wanted to move up as quickly as possible and make as much money as quickly as possible at any cost. I didn’t care too much about work/life balance. I didn’t care if I ate unhealthy food on the company’s dime, or ignore my workout routine for weeks at a time. I didn’t care if my relationships were suffering. However, after a certain point, I realized that I wasn’t happy with the life I had created for myself.
Not only was I not happy, I didn’t think my job performance was that good either. I think there’s a direct connection between your happiness and job performance. If you’re not happy with yourself, then your job performance is bound to suffer. Thankfully, over the years, I had developed enough self-awareness to realize what was worth pursuing and what wasn’t.
What is Self-Awareness?
You may be asking yourself, what exactly is self-awareness? How come I was never taught this in school? How come my company HR department doesn’t offer training courses on it? Self-awareness is something that you need to learn on your own. It involves being aware of your own reactions to different situations. It involves being aware of your emotional state throughout the days, weeks, and months. It involves being aware of the thoughts that go through your head. For example, when someone provides feedback on your presentation, how do you react? What is your emotional state and the thoughts that drive those emotions? Similarly, when you get rejected for a new role, how do you react?
In addition to mental and emotional awareness, physical awareness is just as important. How does your body feel after eating certain foods? How does your body feel if you don’t exercise? How does it feel if you exercise too much?
Finally, it involves being aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, goals, desires. etc. It’s important to be aware of what you are good at and what you enjoy doing so you can focus on those areas rather than going down a path that makes you unhappy.
How Do You Cultivate It?
To cultivate self-awareness, you need to get into the habit of consistently paying attention to your emotions, thoughts, and body. Every time something important or out of the ordinary happens, pay attention to how you react. Every time you pursue a new opportunity, listen to how it makes you feel. Don’t get lost in the emotional response, but just be aware of how it is making you feel. I find that a consistent meditation practice is a great way to cultivate self-awareness. Meditation calms your thoughts and quiets your mind, allowing you to listen to your mind, body, and emotions.
How It Can Change Your Life
So what exactly are the benefits of increased self-awareness? First, it can help you maintain balance in your life. When you know that you are stressed, you remove yourself from the situation and do something about it. When you know that you are angry towards a certain person, you remove yourself from the situation. If you are more aware of your anger towards someone, you are more likely to take steps to prevent yourself from acting inappropriately if you get into a confrontation. Next, it can help your job performance. By maintaining more balance in your life, you are more likely to be happier, productive, and collaborative. Self-awareness can help your health. By keeping you more balanced, you’ll feel less stressed throughout the day. Greater awareness of your body can also tell you when to exercise more and when to stop.
A strong sense of self-awareness can help you achieve what matters to you. If you are not aware of what gives you satisfaction, you’ll chase goals that were imprinted on you by society, family, and friends instead of the goals that truly matter to you. Ultimately, if you want to live a successful and satisfying life, you must go after the things that matter to you.
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