The Importance of Self Awareness
The most important step to start us on this life odyssey is the first one. That first step is knowing where we are right now. It’s important to get our bearings before we can affect any real change or we may end up taking off in the wrong direction. This always reminds me of the old joke:
The captain’s voice comes over the intercom, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is, we’re making great time! The bad news is, we’re lost”
It is critical to be able to answer the question: how are you doing? I’m not talking about when an acquaintance politely asks secretly hoping for a one word answer. I’m talking about when a close friend looks you in the eyes and really wants to know, how are you doing? I love how Bill Burnett and Dave Evans handle this question in their book, Designing your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. They believe that we should start by defining where your existential You are Here pin would go. Their recommendation is to sketch out a dashboard that details where you are today on four defining factors: Work, Play, Love and Health.
So let’s build a You are Here pin. In a trend that will continue throughout this blog, I will be my own Guinea pig to test out these different personal development theories and methodologies. I promise to be as honest and truthful in this blog as I am with myself, however honest that may be. We all experience gradients of self-delusion but these exercises help narrow the gap and bring us closer to the truth. That truth is the foundation for our personal development plan.
When building your dashboard, it is important to spend some real time being introspective. Analyze yourself as if you were giving a 360 review on an employee or wanted to give truthful feedback on a friend. The value of this exercise, like all exercises, increases with the amount of inwardly looking effort you put into it. After grading yourself on each of these levels, it’s important to write a quick blurb on each to give a real sense of where you are. This only needs to be a couple of sentences but writing it down is important because writing engages the brain differently than just thinking. It forces you to articulate the ideas which allows you to build complete thoughts.
who am i
Here is my dashboard:
Health: I’m physically fit, working out 5 to 6 days a week at least with cardio. A big part of this discipline came from fear of cancer returning. I have high blood pressure which is being treated with medication. I could still lose 10 pounds with an ideal weight of 217 (not 215 or 220 but 217). I meditate daily and this helps keep my mind in a good place. I don’t feel like I do enough to give back to the community. Recently, I have cut my reliance upon drugs like ibuprofen which has cut down on heartburn.
Work: After my previous company got acquired, it was demoralizing. I like to work but struggled while in transition. With this new idea, the enthusiasm is through the roof but the risk of it being an actual money maker is high. Starting another company as well with my father which is its own can of worms but is so far very rewarding. I do my best with helping the kids stay on track with homework, getting to school, etc. I also sit on an advisory board for a friend’s company which is a great way to strategize and look at business differently. A lot of my business reading has taken on a new tone with the entrepreneurial spirit cranked to 11 these days.
Play: I try to get the most out of play as possible but in regimented intervals. We try to go to parties as well as host them. I am religious about Thursday night date night. Most of my play is dictated by others at this point, mostly the kids. This can be hard if it is not interesting to me.
Love: I do my best to support, listen and enjoy the children. I also try my best to communicate and stay close with friends but struggle with this due to being busy with work and family. My wife and I have a good, candid relationship that is filled with interesting conversation and sex. I love excellent writing but I rarely give myself the chance to do it. I burn to enjoy nature and try to make sure we are doing something outside almost every weekend. We recently got a new puppy who is a lot of fun but a lot of work.
This is just Step 1 in the Know Thyself journey. We’ll start diving into personality types in the next post.