Self awareness is the ability to stand apart, at least mentally, from our own self in order to ask ourselves questions about our values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. It is the process of becoming aware of what drives our behaviour and discerning whether or not any changes are required in order for our actions to remain congruent with our goals.
At the outset, we should recognise that there is plenty of scope for circular reference when we begin the process of introspection required in order to really get to know ourselves because all of the above entities are fundamentally interrelated:
Although the relationships are indeed complex, it is relatively easy to understand that goals drive behaviour. If we are serious about trying to achieve something, we will have quantified that desire in terms of a goal and that goal should drive a good deal of our behaviour. Our beliefs and values are the things that shape our vision, our mission and our personal goals; and knowledge, skills and attitude are the things we need to acquire in order to reach our goals.
So, as you can see, setting the right goals for yourself is quite central to the business of achieving anything significant in your life. Sometimes, in my workshops, I ask people to write down their three of four most important goals. Whilst other people are busy writing, I find it interesting to see people staring upwards thinking about what they would really like to achieve. Anything that they subsequently write down is not a goal, of course.
If you have goals and you are serious about achieving them, they will be in the forefront of your mind. You won’t need to think about them. You would be able to write them down right away if asked, so I am asking: can you write down – right now – your three or four most important goals?
If you can, that’s great. It means that you will be able to focus yourself on performing the right actions and acquiring the right knowledge and skills that you will need to achieve them. If you can’t, that’s ok too. But without goals, you are like a ship without a rudder. You will get blown this way and that and who knows where you will end up. As some wise person once said, ‘a man going nowhere usually gets there.’
So how do you go about the process of setting the right goals? Well I suggest you start by asking yourself what is really important to you. What would you really like to do with your life if you could do anything; where would go if you could go absolutely anywhere; what would you want to be if you could be anything? Don’t rush your answers.
You really can have anything you want if you are prepared to put in the necessary effort in order to get there. But before you can even begin to put in any effort at all, you have to know the destination; you have to know where you are going; you have to have goals. Everything else – what you are going to be, where you are going to go and what you are going to do – follows on from your goals.
All top achievers set goals. If you don’t have your own goals, isn’t it about time you started to think more seriously about where you are going?