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Self-Awareness as a Foundation of Productivity


Do you have a good understanding of what’s going on inside your own head?

We live in a time where most people know more about Hollywood celebrities than they do about themselves. This is a pity since the only way to develop yourself to be a better, happier person is to know more about yourself – to know who you really are.

Now, of course, self-awareness can be a curse too. Once you notice how often you’re being childish, stubborn or just something you’d rather not be, it can be an unpleasant awakening. Yet, it’s the only way to start fixing things.

When it comes to the modern workplace where one can have multiple different types of jobs to do, self-aware person knows what they are good at and what they are bad at. They know which personal skills need development, and which tasks need to be delegated and why. Self-aware people are good at making informed choices based on what they want to do, giving them a clear edge over those who blindly follow others.

Self-awareness is a critical skill.

In the following, I walk through five easy ways to develop your self-awareness.

Get distance:

Be the proverbial fly on the wall to learn more about yourself.

The best way to do this is to keep a journal.

Write down key things you frequently do and think about why you do them. Once the story is on paper, you will be better able to objectively reflect on it and start to notice previously hidden things about yourself. You’ll gain distance to them and are able to see them objectively.

From a work productivity perspective, this is powerful because seeing what you do daily allows you to evaluate if they take you closer to your goals or are merely “busywork” that keeps you occupied but takes you nowhere.

Listen to yourself:

Your mind is trying to tell you things – a lot of things.

But do you ever stop to listen?

Meditating has transformed the lives of countless people. And while I would be hesitant to speak of transformations in my case, meditating has helped me to become more aware of what’s going on in my head. You can get started in just a few minutes per day, and you’ll witness results in a few weeks.

There’s not much to lose here, so give it a try!

Take validated tests:

There are no better ways to establish a factual baseline of what you are like as a person than taking validated psychometric tests.

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (which despite all the criticism is a wonderful tool for you to introspect), the Big-5 personality test, and countless other ones. Just google “take a personality test online”, and you’ll find a plethora of options.

Don’t overthink: Regardless of the scientific validity of the test, most of them will have good questions that force you to think about who you are. Or, in other words, work on your self-awareness.

Ask for feedback:

This can be a nasty one. But external feedback is the only way to get to see yourself from the viewpoint of others.

I did this one as part of leadership training at my job. And I learned a lot about myself that I was not aware of, both good and bad. If you get a chance to have someone facilitate a formal feedback collection from your peers, do it! Or, if you have the guts, do it yourself: Simply design a questionnaire that gauges key metrics that you want to have feedback on.

Practice consistency:

This one is a kind of meta-idea, but I truly believe you have to keep tabs on yourself continually to understand how you operate and what you do – to be self-aware.

You change all the time. Your environment changes. Your life changes.

How can you understand what kind of an operator you are if you don’t “update” your understanding of yourself continually?

Reflect on yourself at least once a month. Do a check on where you’re at, what needs improving, and what is going well. This also helps build those consistency muscles, which are important in just about everything in life.

Self-Awareness Unlocks Growth

For me, self-awareness means honesty. After intentionally practicing self-awareness for years, I can see far more often when I’m letting my emotions take me for a ride and acting irrationally.

Yes, self-awareness won’t help you stop acting stupidly always, but it’ll help you see it. And that’s a damn good start.

Good luck on your way to a greater knowing of yourself!

About the author 

Simo Hosio  -  Simo is an award-winning scientist, Academy Research Fellow, research group leader, professor, and digital builder. This site exists to empower people to build passion projects that support professional growth and make money.

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