It’s possible to go through your life reacting to circumstances and doing what needs to be done in the moment, which is certainly necessary to a degree. But if you want more intentionality in your life, if you want to make the most of being who you are, then self-awareness is key. Most people think they are pretty self-aware, but chances are they are not as aware as they think.
If you want to be self-aware, you need to understand yourself internally. How do you think and feel? What are you naturally good at? What inspires you? What do you find to be meaningful? You also need to understand yourself externally—how do others perceive you?
When you are self-aware, you can tap into your authentic self and take advantage of your natural gifts. Because you do what you are naturally inclined to do, you can be more successful with less effort.
Here are some suggestions for finding your best self:
1) Cultivate your natural strengths. Years ago, a friend’s son came to her at graduation and apologized for not becoming a financial wiz with a huge signing bonus, like many of his college mates. He was an English literature major who loved books and became a very successful educator, happy in his work. Some of his friends, who tried to bend their talents to fit the trend of the time, received their bonuses, but it was downhill from there on.
2) Leverage your personality traits. Understand how you think and feel by examining five traits: Are you generally open to new experiences? This could involve a curiosity about life, being creative, and willing to try new things. Are you naturally conscientious? You might be the responsible one, the organized one, the doer who gets things done. Are you an extrovert? If so, you are comfortable in social situations. You are willing to be assertive. Or you may be the opposite, an introvert. Are you congenial? If you have an agreeable personality, you generally trust and respect others and are empathetic. Are you a bit neurotic? Do you sometimes feel anxious or depressed? Being aware of your basic traits helps you become authentic and self-actualized.
3) Find meaning in your life. Some people go their entire lifetime without finding purpose. Certainly, not everyone has an obvious passion. But if you pay attention to what feels the most satisfying to you, and listen to yourself, you have a chance. My friend’s son spent summers teaching children tennis. He combined that with a love of literature and found a very satisfying career as an educator. He found it deeply meaningful to connect with kids and introduce them to the wonders of the world of books. He took the time to reflect on experiences that moved him and spoke to him as an individual. He was not, like some of his classmates, trying to be someone he was not for the sake of money.
4) Be open to change. People grow and evolve as they go through life, and therefore, you will change. You will learn new things. You will change your mind about things as you evolve. As you do, try to understand how you are different, and hopefully, improved. The more you are able to digest new information about yourself, the more you are able to increase your self-awareness and improve and grow as a human being.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact