I recently turned 40 and there’s something magical that happens at that age.
It’s happened to me and so many of my friends who have also reached 40; we just stop giving a f@*k. What I specifically mean by that is that we just stop caring about what other people think of us or their expectations of us. We make the decision to live 100% authentically.
Okay, I must confess, that’s not completely true. I have lived authentically for the past 15 years, but only recently life has become exactly the way that I’ve always dreamed. The key to getting to that point was self-awareness. Knowing oneself deeply and fully to the extent that we know what we want and don’t want in our lives, we know our strengths and weaknesses, we have the courage to listen to our own hearts and follow them, rather than the voices of others.
Lots of leaders and influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Robbins are talking about the importance of self-awareness, but what I haven’t heard them clarify is HOW to become more self-aware. That’s why I decided to write this article. So, here we go…5 Ways to Increase your Self-Awareness.
1. Have the courage to ask yourself the BIG questions.
What’s the purpose of my life? What do I want to accomplish before I die? How can I best add value to the world? What would my life look like if I was living it at 100% of my full potential?
These are not easy and simple questions. They require some serious introspection and thought. Which leads me to #2…
2. Engage in active daily reflection.
There’s a reason why meditation and yoga have become exceptionally popular around the world. One of the biggest challenges that we face as humans in the post-industrial, technology driven world is the ability to slow down and reconnect with ourselves. Practices like meditation, yoga and prayer teach us to do exactly that. They teach us to disconnect with the outer world and connect with the inner world.
I recommend creating a daily routine in which you are alone in a place that is comfortable and silent. I prefer sitting during the practice, and in particular sitting on the floor to feel a sense of connection to the earth and to feel humble and grounded. If you don’t currently have a physical space that fits that description, you can do one of two things: create it in your house or find it somewhere outdoors. I recommend doing both.
On a daily basis, I pray, meditate and visualize at home, but I try at least once a week to have some silent time in the natural world. I happen to live near the beach, however if you don’t have that luxury it can be the mountains, a river, park or even your backyard; anywhere that can be considered nature outside and away from buildings, phones, televisions, computers and the noise of the modern world.
If you do this for a minimum of 10-15 minutes daily, I guarantee you that you will begin to become more calm, self-reflective and ultimately more self-aware.
3. Find clarity of life purpose & vision.
Oftentimes, I ask people what their purpose or mission statement is in life and about 99.9999% tell me that they don’t have one. Every company has a mission statement to clarify why they exist and what they should be working towards on a day to day basis. In the leadership consulting world, in which I work, it is commonly known that a company without a powerful mission statement will eventually disappear.
So, why do we as individuals not have a purpose or mission statement? A statement that guides us in life and reminds us of what we’re supposed to be doing with our precious time on earth. I help my clients discover their mission and/or purpose statements. If you’d like to know how…please feel free to reach out to me.
It took me about 6 months to come up with my own complete and succinct purpose/mission statement and here it is:
“My purpose in life is to positively impact as many people as possible by helping them live out their best lives. I will do this through leadership, education and love.”
I think about this statement to myself every night before I go to bed, and ask myself how effectively I lived out my purpose that day. When you have a clear purpose for living and combine that with a clear vision for your life, everything you do becomes aligned and you gain a self-awareness that is rarely seen in others.
4. Prioritize daily learning.
What new thing did you learn today? Becoming more self-aware has everything to do with having a Growth Mindset rather than a Fixed Mindset. People with fixed mindsets who oftentimes say things like: ‘I am who I am’ or ‘that’s just me’ are usually not the kind of people that are open to looking deep inside of themselves. They’re unwilling to dig deep enough to be honest with themselves about their strengths and weaknesses; what they love doing and what they hate doing; or what they really want out of life.
The most self-aware people that I know are always digging deeper within themselves in order to better understand their place in the world, and that just cannot happen if they’re not actively learning new things every day. When we constantly read more, think more, have better conservations with great people, we begin to see in which areas we are lacking and how we need to improve and grow. If you’re not a “reader” then get audio books, but don’t dare pass several days without learning anything new.
5. Seek out and live out new experiences.
I’m currently writing this blog post in a small café in Bogota, Colombia. Five years ago, if you would have told me that 5 years from now you’d have your own business in leadership development both in the U.S. and in Colombia, I would’ve told you that you’re out of your mind. Colombia? Why the hell would I be in or even go to Colombia? I’m not into drugs nor violence….lol. That was my impression of Colombia back then, but obviously, A LOT has changed.
Long story short, I now go back and forth working in Texas and in Colombia. Along the way I have picked up Spanish and had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. I came to Colombia to go somewhere different and experience something new and I ended up falling in love with the country so much that I decided to move here. Best of all, I have discovered sides of myself that I didn’t even know existed before coming here, and as a result, my self-awareness has gone through the roof.
I always do random stuff and go to random places to stretch myself. I have become extremely comfortable with being uncomfortable, because I know that growth only occurs when you go outside of my comfort zone.
So, I routinely do new things and try to live new experiences, and with every new experience, I expand mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When you do something entirely new, your brain creates new neural connections that never existed before, so you literally are expanding yourself!
Fill your life with new experiences and I guarantee you that you will become much more self-aware. You will discover things about yourself that you never knew before, which will allow you to live your life in the most authentic way possible.