Self-awareness is one of the fundamental powers we possess and according to Daniel Goleman, it is the key to our personal and career success.
Awareness, along with self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, is one of the key elements of emotional intelligence.
Lack of clarity and confusion in our life priorities inevitably lead to lower self-confidence, lack of purpose and poor motivation. The below exercises can help you make your vision clearer, dramatically boost your confidence, and find meaning and tap into your inner motivation.
Mike is 38 years old, has a team-leading position in a reputable financial institution and seems to be a good guy. He is a leader by nature and never gives up. He considers himself as a high achiever but somehow lost his interest in his newly formed role due to the reorganization of departments. He now has more free time. It seems to freak him out.
Here is what Mike is saying:
“After the recent changes, my motivation went down and I am not satisfied with my position. I am ambitious about my career and want to make sure that I progress in this area of life. I have noticed that I am oftentimes negative about my achievements. If I compare myself with other peers of my age who are further in their career, I get upset and talk negatively about myself. I feel so bad to recognize that though I am heading a department of 10 people and many people would be happy to be in my position, I am not satisfied with my career situation. I want to be more positive and to further develop my career.”
Do you know this, don't you?
Experiencing a negative dialogue, comparing yourself with others, feeling stressed, tired, upset or empty are reminders that your life is out of balance and you are not living up to your true values - things that are important to you and your potential.
Especially in the stressful and hectic times after a 10-12 hour working day, but also times when you instantly have more free time (due to the reorganization of your department for instance), it becomes inevitable to know who you are and what matters to you in order to keep the inner balance, successfully develop your career and to feel happy.
Have you ever had one or several of these issues?
disappointment or being upset about your family,
an unexpected change in your work environment (reorganization etc.),
an uncooperative boss, colleague or friend,
a change in health,
a change in the economy- negative predictions for your business, industry, your country or the entire world,
a personal conflict, a relationship problem, an unexpected downturn in finances etc.
How to get your balance back?
Check your limiting beliefs. Know your values. Know where you stand in each area of life and what steps you will have to take to make an improvement. Clarify each area of your life to bring more clarity and alignment with what is important to you.
1. Check your limiting beliefs
"To have a balanced life? It’s not possible. How can someone working 10-12 hours a day, with a career ambition, find a balance in all areas of life?”
“On the business side, I am more than happy. I got promoted and what I do is far beyond from what I could ever imagine. As to other areas of life, I am kind of okay. They are at average between 2 and 5 and the work area compensates the rest.”
"Unbalanced life is a result of your choice to make a career”.
These are some explanations of senior executives I am working with.
What is it that you tell yourself every day? What are your results that you get on a daily basis: happy and empowered? or stressed and depressed? And is it true that it’s not possible to have a prosperous career and a balanced life, which is fulfilling and rewarding?
Whether you think it’s not possible or possible to have this, you are right. Your life is a result of your belief system, your actions and it’s up to you to choose what kind of life you want and can allow yourself to choose.
Do you believe you have a choice? You may discover that you have one after you finish reading this article.
2. What are your values?
One of the most common assessments that I do when I work with my clients is to discover what they value in life the most. It helps me to see if there is a gap between what they are valuing and actually having in their lives. Some people discover that they value health for instance, but don’t do anything to exercise or value spirituality, but instead of meditating, spend their time being negative and doing other less relevant stuff.
3. How happy and satisfied are you in the areas of life?
Are you paying attention to all areas of your life or are you just focused on one or a few that seems to work the best and require less effort? If you would give a rate from 0 to 10 to your overall happiness and satisfaction, what would it be?
If you have overall 7+, you are good. If it’s between 5 to 7, you are okay and if your overall well being is below 5, you might start wondering what steps you could take to uplift your life. If you have five or below and think you are actually feeling good, it might be a warning sign for you. What can make your well being become important for you?
4. How can you get clarity in a specific area of your life?
Imagine you have overall a good feeling about your life and there is one particular area you want to clarify, where you stand and what can be done with it.
You can go through a little self-exploration. It will give you clarity as to what is important for you in this area of life and help you set priorities for yourself. It helps also to adjust your daily actions, helping you to come closer to the balance you deserve.
Choose the area of life you want to explore. It is important to go through these stages without any judgment. See it as a self-exploration and a source for new insights. You will have a possibility to modify your daily actions once you’ve gone through the whole exercise. You can do this exercise either in your mind or by putting cards, describing steps in front of you (environment, behavior, capabilities, beliefs and values, identity and spirit) on the floor and going from one stage to the other.
1. Environment. Where do you find yourself when you think about this area of life? Where does it take place? Example, if you are exploring a working area and think about the environment, you can find yourself at your office desk, in front of the boardroom or on the stage. Who is surrounding you?
2. Behavior. Ask yourself "what specifically do you do when you're engaged in (whatever you're exploring)?” What actions do you take?
3. Capabilities. Every behavior we engage in our lives is a subset of the area of our capabilities and skills. When we lead our meetings, for example, we are using our bodies to demonstrate congruency with what we are saying, our vocal varieties to keep the audience engaged, stories to make our presentations interactive and inspiring and of course, our knowledge in order to bring our message across. You can think of what skills do you put into practice in the area you examine. Then write it down or notice it for yourself. It will bring you clarity and might help you rediscover one of your natural talents that you have and have forgotten to use in your life.
One of my clients has rediscovered his natural ability to motivate people while doing this exercise.
4. Beliefs and Values. What’s important about this area of your life? Why does it matter? What’s most important about it? Imagine someone would like to know more about you, what would be the most important thing someone would love to know about you in this area of life?
5. Identity. Ask yourself "Who am I when I am engaged in (whatever you're exploring)?” Are you your authentic self or are you playing a role? What role is it? Are you the main actor or someone on the side? Who are you at your best and your worst in this area of life?
6. Spirit. When you are on the level of spirit, close your eyes and take as long as you like to connect with the best and highest thing you can imagine. It can be a vision of your life (big picture), your highest values, god, your highest self, connection with others. Get into the feeling.
Go all the way back through the stages of Identity - Beliefs and Values - Capabilities - Behavior – Environment- to the starting point carrying the sense of Spirit each time taking the feeling from the previous step with you. Example: on the stage of Identity the sense of Spirit, on the stage of Beliefs and Values the sense of Spirit and Identity and so on. Ask yourself the same questions as you have asked before and see what has changed. Have you finished with the same environment? Are the people surrounding you the same? Who has left?
The more aware you are about these things, the more choices you will have. Awareness leads to choice and you can even teach yourself how to make better decisions and recognize better choices through your awareness.
In my life master classes, I teach how to be self-aware and how to use these powers to become the most effective, productive, happy and fulfilled leader you can be.
With this 6-step system, you can get in-depth of what is going on and decide if you want to make a difference in your life. You can use this model to access your employees and help them reach their goals as well. You can go as far as you allow your imagination to go and find other areas where you can use this technique (in sales, personal relationships etc.).
There are many tools and techniques in NLP, helping you add value to each of these levels and to help you become more aware of your thinking, beliefs and how these impact your life. By becoming more and more aware, you start to wonder how to achieve the balance in life you want for yourself.
What steps can you take to get closer to the ideal balance you want to reach in all your areas of life? Share with those who might need a bit more balance in life. Comment below why do you think self-awareness is important?