Understanding who you are, what makes you tick, what you’re not great at, your strengths and skills, is potent. Being self-aware helps us become more successful in all facets of our life, from personal relationships through to careers, and people who have great self-awareness make better, rational decisions, have higher levels of self-control, they get out of their own way and work to make positive changes. As a result they generally lead a happier, more productive life (and not just in the work sense).
As my purpose is to help people feel happier and more confident in their careers, this is my focus for this post.
How can being self-aware help you career-wise?
When you know what you’re good at, what you love doing, the environments where you thrive, your flaws and know where you need to improve, means that you are more likely to choose careers that are right for you, a better match to your values, your skills and your preferences. The result of this is a deeper enjoyment of work, an understanding of how and where you contribute, leading to fulfilment.
So many of us lack self-awareness and as a result lead ‘robotic’ lives.
We get up, we go to work, we do our jobs (without thinking about what we do), we go home, we make tea, we exercise, we walk the dog, we watch NETFLIX, have a glass of wine, go to bed then get up and do it all again – it’s like Groundhog Day.
We are in work a long time, for 40 to 50 years, 5 days a week for 35 – 40 hours a day and we have one life to live, one story to create, so is this really the best way to live our lives? If this is OK for you then that’s cool and you can stop reading here, we all deserve to live the life we want, however if this has resonated with you, even just a little bit, then read on.
So how can you become more self-aware?
There’s so much advice out there on this and it’s hard to know where to start One effective tool is to ask for constructive feedback from those people that you trust and know you. Draw up a questionnaire, ask questions relating to your strengths, skills and attributes:
When would you come to me for help?
What do you consider to be my greatest strength and why?
What do I need to start, stop, continue doing?
These are just a few examples for you to consider, you need to be specific, to draw out the relevant detail and you will need to encourage people to be honest (and then be brave enough to read and consider their opinions, without the emotion!).
Once you have captured this information it helps to visually see it. One way in which you can do this is through a Personal SWOT Analysis. Many of you reading this will be aware that businesses often use these to identify their differentiation and unique selling points, to identify strengths and opportunities that exist externally that can be leveraged to their advantage. They are also used to spot weaknesses in the business, areas that need focus for development and external threats to be mindful of that are often outside of their control. In this instance SWOTs are so useful for strategic planning and to ensure that they can complete effectively in the marketplace.
This is easily applied to yourself.
You gain employment by selling your skills and strengths to another person. You aim to highlight your strengths and show your own unique selling point (why should they consider you over anybody else?). You need to know the marketplace that you are competing in, being mindful of threats so they can been managed and take advantage of opportunities that are out there to develop your knowledge and your level of mastery in your field.
A Personal SWOT Analysis is a useful visual exercise to complete, it will heighten your awareness of where you excel, where you could/need to grow (through opportunities and weaknesses) and existing threats that you need to know of, to manage and minimise the negative impact.
I have produced a SWOT analysis for you to complete along with questions to help you develop an honest picture of yourself, to enable you to understand more of who you are. I hope it helps and feel free to share your results, you might inspire someone else (and that’s powerful).