How many times have you tried to make a change in your life only to find yourself back where you started all too soon? So you muster up some more motivation and decide this is it, this time you're going to be successful for sure, only for the pattern to repeat itself again. Sound familiar?
All too often we keep repeating the same thoughts and behaviours but expect a different outcome.
There's a famous quote from Albert Einstein:
The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
How can we break this vicious cycle? How can we make changes and keep moving forward?
By raising our self awareness! Awareness is everything!
Think about it for a second, if a business is going to make changes, does it simply decide to do it and just go? No (well hopefully not)! They will review how they've been doing things up until now and what's worked and what hasn't. Then they'll look into why those things worked or didn't work, seeking feedback from lots of people around the business as they go. They'll consider where they want to go and then work back as to how they can get there. They'll also consider what could happen to throw them off course on that journey and plan for that. The values of the business will be considered and how these changes will effect everyone. What I'm getting at is that it's a thorough process, it takes time and preparation, but when we think about making changes in our personal life, more often than not we make a decision to do something (normally when we're at the peak of our motivation wave) and just go for it. And we wonder why it doesn't work!
Most people want to make changes in their life because they're not happy where they are, and when you're not happy where you are, you want to get out of there pretty quickly. I get it. But by taking just a bit of time to raise our awareness about where we are, how we've got there, what we've done to get there, where we want to be and why, we're setting ourselves up for a much bigger chance of success. Not just for this change either, when you are self aware you are constantly growing and moving forward. Even when things don't go to plan, you learn what didn't work so you can iterate and try again.
So how can you raise your self awareness? Here's a few things to get you started....
Journaling involves reflecting on your day. How you were feeling, what made you feel that way. You notice what went well, what didn't go quite as well and why. You learn so much about yourself through journaling and this gives you the opportunity to try something new rather than continue to repeat the same way of doing things and getting the same result. As you write, you'll notice what's been holding you back in life. You'll have little (or BIG!) aha moments that keep moving you forward.
There is no correct way to journal, just do what is best for you - day or night, blank page or template. The important part is to notice how you feel afterwards and notice the changes in your life from having a journaling practice. When you see the benefits, you're far more likely to carry on.
This can be scary. It involves being vulnerable and open to hearing others opinions, but feedback is invaluable to help us grow. If the feedback is a surprise then there's more questions there for you to ask yourself.
Mindfulness helps to keep us present and this allows us to be aware of our actions and the results of them. You can practice mindfulness by simply sitting and focusing on your breath, or by following a guided meditation. There are many apps out there now. Some I have tried and like are: Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm and Balance.
Mindfulness is an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
We can be very judgemental about ourselves and judgement just shuts down out motivation to be self-aware. So instead, replace judgement with curiosity. Get curious about your thoughts, beliefs and actions. Be honest and compassionate with yourself. Curiosity creates opportunities and possibilities!
Define your values
Our values inform our thoughts, words and actions. Our values are important because they help us to grow and develop. They help us to create the future we want to experience. The decisions we make are a reflection of our values and beliefs, and they are always directed towards a specific purpose. By taking the time to define our values, it helps us to be aware of when we're making decisions or trying to make changes that go against our values, so we can readjust our direction.
Questions to ask yourself...
Setting yourself up for success when making changes in your life, means taking the time to reflect. By cultivating self awareness you are now in a better position to reflect on what you've tried before, what you're trying to achieve and what the outcome might look like. Try asking yourself questions like:
What is it that I actually want?
What will having that do for me?
When I have reached my goal, what will I see, hear, feel?
What's stopped me from reaching my goal in the past?
What am I going to do differently this time?
What difficulties could I encounter and how will I deal with those?
What support and accountability do I need to reach my goal?
The list of questions could go on and on, but these are a good starting point!
The final thing I wanted to mention and is super important, is to notice how you feel. If something doesn't feel quite right dig a bit deeper, what is that feeling trying to tell you? If something feels amazing, take the time to appreciate that and notice what made it amazing. That way you can cultivate more of it in your life. Thanks to our natural, inbuilt negativity bias, we find it easy to focus on the negative things and so balance it out by taking time to notice and appreciate when things go well. Attaching a positive emotion to something, means you're far more likely to do it again.
Self awareness really is the magic ingredient not only to making changes in our lives, but to give our lives purpose, growth and importantly, happiness!
If you're keen for some support raising your self awareness and getting you on track towards your goals, or maybe you're not sure yet what your goals are and want some support to define them. If this sounds like you, please get in touch. I offer a FREE 30 minute discovery call which may just be enough to get you going.
I also have a private FREE group for women. Come join our supportive community if you want to discover how to live a happier, healthier and more balanced life: https://www.facebook.com/groups/720743675376609
Create possibilities, create opportunities but don't create regret!
Published 30 September 2020