How well do you know yourself?
This may seem like a simple question, although lots of us are running on autopilot these days — just trying to make it through the day. And then a sense of emptiness creeps in.
Greek philosopher Aristotle once said in ancient times, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Fast-forward to today. Self-awareness is one of the biggest buzz phrases in entrepreneurship, happiness, productivity and personal growth.
Obviously, self-awareness is important. It can also be one of the most difficult things you can master in life, observes Darius Foroux. Foroux — an author, blogger and podcaster who focuses on how to live a better life — has come up with an inquiry system to help shed light on this elusive topic.
There’s no universal answer to self-awareness. We’re all different, and the only person who can teach you self-awareness is you. Take a look at these inquiring probes to see if any “aha” moments come up for you.
- What am I good at?
- What am I bad at?
- What am I so-so at?
- Who are the most important people in my life?
- What are the most important principles in my life?
- What type of person do I want to be?
- What stresses me out?
- What relaxes me?
- What’s my definition of success?
What type of worker am I?
- How do I want others to see me?
- What makes me sad?
- What makes me happy?
What makes me angry?
What am I afraid of?What type of friend do I want to be?What do I think about myself?What do I value in life?
- What things about myself make me feel proud?
- Where do I see myself in five years?
Just answer the questions with the first thing that pops into your mind. As Foroux points out, everyone interprets these questions in a different way. And that’s exactly the point.
There are no right or wrong answers. And it’s OK to say, “I don’t know.” In fact, that could end up giving you a big clue as to where to put your focus.
The real value in this exercise is to give yourself a chance to take a little internal inventory. We get so caught up in our outer worlds that it’s easy to lose ourselves along the way.
Applying your answers
Now comes the most important part: Use the information you’ve gleaned to make any necessary course corrections. You may find you’ve been spinning your wheels — or putting your energy into the wrong areas.
Some of your answers could change over time, so it’s a good idea to touch base with your soul every now and then.
Once you have a barometer on things, look at including more of the advantageous things into your life — and eliminating the harmful things, as much as possible. Foroux boils it down into simple terms:
- Do more things that make you happy.
- Do more things you’re good at.
- Avoid things that make you unhappy.
- Dial down things you’re bad at (although you may not want to eliminate these altogether if there’s room for improvement).
Raising the caution flag
I need to raise a yellow flag here: Sometimes things aren’t so black and white. So, you can’t take this process literally.
For example, relationships can make you both happy and sad. That doesn’t mean you should avoid relationships altogether. As Foroux advises, just avoid the things within your control that make your relationships bad — selfishness, lying, lack of empathy, etc.
No doubt you have responsibilities that require you to put your nose to the grindstone. In these cases, just think about the end game. Chances are, knowing your values will help you persevere through some of the unpleasant things — in order to stick with those things you value most.
The more you practice this, the more self-aware you’ll become. Introspection is difficult because you need to be honest with yourself. And lots of times it’s easier to cover things up because the truth can be scary.
You may want to journal your thoughts — for your eyes only. This can help you to reason through things — and even lead to breakthroughs.
Knowing yourself better can make life easier — and more authentic. Following your own compass is always better than losing yourself in the crowd. It gives meaning to your life and those steps you’re taking every day.
Pretty soon, you may see a rich tapestry in your life story — instead of a bunch of loose threads.