Self-awareness is an absolute must. For everyone. Everywhere.
Essentially, the more you pay attention to your emotions and how you work, the better you'll understand why you do the things you do. The more you know about your own habits, the easier it is to improve on those habits.
You can read every productivity tip out there , you can adapt the routines of geniuses , and you can eat up every piece of self-help that comes across the computer screen, but it's completely pointless if you don't know yourself well enough to put the correct advice into practice. For example: in college, I spent my time staying up late and working on papers until late in the night. My room was a mess, I didn't have a proper desk, and I spent more sleepless night than I can count. I felt terrible everyday and the papers I wrote were horrible. I thought I was a night person because it had that sense of "cool creative type" about it, but it obviously wasn't working for me.
Knowing yourself completely is difficult, and it's impossible to solve for every single cognitive bias you have. But just because we suck at it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. You can't solve every problem in your life, but you can make some headway on minor changes.
Here are a few ways of doing just that:
Learn to look at yourself objectively: It's nearly impossible to actually look at yourself objectively, but it's always worth a shot. The main idea here is to study and criticize your decisions. Even better, find some trustworthy friends to talk with and listen to their criticisms.
Write your own manifesto: The main purpose of self-awareness is self-improvement, so it makes sense that you need to have goals. If you're struggling with that part, a manifesto is a great way to push yourself into figuring out what you want.
Keep a journal: Our memory colors the past pretty deeply. If you want a more accurate gauge of yourself, a journal is a great way to get it . A journal makes you more aware of what you're doing and where problems might be coming from because you can document anything. If you spend time documenting the little things, like food intake, water intake, or sleep, you might notice a larger trend that you can correct for. If you're looking for a deeper understanding of your decision making skills, Harvard Business Review suggests writing down what you think will happen with a decision, then wait nine or ten months and review what you wrote.
Perform a self-review: The self-review is one of those annoying little things we all do at work, but you can make them beneficial if you think of them more as a thought experiment. Instead of spending your time thinking about what you should improve about yourself, think about what you boss thinks you should do and what co-workers might say. This way, you can see yourself from someone else's perspective and gain a little extra insight into yourself.
It's important to remember that self-awareness is introspection, but it's not navel gazing. Self-absorption and overthinking doesn't get you anywhere, but being aware of your needs and acting on them can help you improve. You might not realize how often what you're doing doesn't correlate to what you want.
So the takeaway? To know ourselves is to know our world. To improve ourselves is to improve our world. It's easy to fall for the idea that if you know yourself well enough you'll be able to fix all your problems, but that's not how it works. It's step one. Our minds are feeble and ripe with biases that color our decisions. In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, researcher Daniel Kahneman points out that even after years of studying biases and basic human decision making, he still has all the faults he had before. We have so many blind spots that self-awareness is often impossible. Essentially, we're driven to maintain a particular self-image to the point where we don't notice our own failings. The reality is that we all have failings and our job is to strive towards eliminating them. So let's begin shall we?
Check out "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. If you've enjoyed this read, post any pic with the hashtag #1thingeveryday to join us in choosing to learn one thing from our day every day.