In my job as a career coach and advisor, I have had the opportunity to speak with literally thousands of people from all over the world, with different experiences and backgrounds, who have different end goals. Some clients come to me to rework a résumé or build out a social media plan. Others seek counsel on creating and managing a strong personal brand. Still, others contact me because they are looking to manage their careers and need guidance in doing so. Inevitably, my conversations with them stray from the purely business side of things into matters more personal. After all, when you are busy managing your career, your product is you, and you are a whole person, not merely a professional.
One thing that I have gleaned from my years of working closely with people is that one of the biggest assets not just in your career but in life, is self-awareness. Developing self-awareness is not easy. It requires work, time, and dedication. It is a step toward self-actualization, which is at the top of Maslow’s pyramid, and which few of us will ever fully achieve. Many of us struggle with how to become more self-aware. Here are some practical tips that I’ve come up with:
Accept the past. It is far too easy to say that the past is over, and we should just forget about it. The past makes you who you are today, and influences who you will become in the future. Accept it. Recognize that it cannot be changed. Learn from it.
Don’t focus on what others think. So much energy is expended by wondering and worrying about how others perceive us. Focus that energy instead into striving for your own success. How do you value yourself?
Seek satisfaction and serenity from yourself. Other people, material possessions, and other things outside of yourself will not lead to happiness. You must find that within yourself first and not look to external sources for it.
Develop patience. Yes, there are times that you will have to wait. Impatience is rarely a virtue, and more often than not, can lead to rash, regrettable decisions. You are in this for the long haul. Don’t sacrifice long-term growth for short-term satisfaction.
Recognize your uniqueness. There is only one you. No one else can do exactly what you can do. You have unique skills, experiences, thoughts, and ideas. And that is what makes you you. Celebrate what’s different about you.
Define success on your own terms. Far too often, we define success by measures that we get from other people. Is success having a big house, fancy car, and a fat bank account? Maybe. And if it is, that’s okay. But for many of us, those measures do not bring success. Rather, they are vehicles for achieving success. Being financially savvy may allow you to travel extensively and enjoy a comfortable retirement. Having a large home may mean that you have ample space for your large family and circle of friends.
Investing time in being self-aware is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You are your primary product, and you’re the CEO not only of your career, but your life. You are a unique individual who has many gifts to share with the world. Make an effort to define what they are, what personal success is for you, and work on being authentic.