Dear Reader, stay resolute and strong as we head into the New Year. Why? We have the capacity within us to achieve whatever our heart and mind desire. Yes, we really should be confident about what’s possible in 2014!
To internalize “what’s possible” means we deeply understand what we bring to the world. Each of us is a jewel. Yet sometimes we sell ourselves short. Admittedly, the exploration of one’s self can be tortuous and professionally risky (do we really need to look at our recent behavior with a co-worker?) Self-awareness assures that we align our best selves with the right work, leading to better decisions and prioritizing of tasks.
So how do we dig for the jewel of self-knowledge, especially given so little time for reflection in our frenetic world. And, even then, reflection is only useful when the discernible learning can actually be applied.
For most of us, (please don’t roll your eyes) the first place to start is with breathing. Take a moment for a few deep breaths, wherever you are. I’m not saying that deep breathing will lead to self-knowledge. I’m only beseeching you to deliberately sit down, stop, and do nothing, for five minutes. Remember to silence your phone and crank the quiet brakes. My mother always claimed that an afternoon nap was good for beauty. Although I can’t vouch for napping (it’s an elusive activity in my life) I insist that pausing for a few minutes to rest, giving our minds a break is the starting point for getting beyond the constant noise in our heads. Only then might we discover what we already know.
Bolster our awareness about what we do well. Everyone brings something to the party. Ask yourself about the skills you enjoy using most in your job. This question should elicit happy memories of feeling “in the flow” so to speak. Make a mental-note and write down the skills that feel great and go after more opportunities that match this aptitude. We’re more productive and satisfied when we can bring our best to the task at hand.
Consider what’s standing in the way of reaching your goals. Is it really a budget issue? Kevin Daum, author of a recent INC magazine article, “4 Tips for Overcoming Obstacles”, identifies three types of obstacles: external, internal and habitual. He contends that self- awareness allows us to overcome our habitual obstacles. In addition, using discipline and patience to focus and develop strategic plans gives us some control over circumstances. As I mentioned above, we also have inherent creative abilities to find solutions and achieve what we matters most to us.
Sometimes we might not have the right skill for a project. Yet, we shouldn’t perceive this as a problem! To the contrary… it’s exciting to learn something new. Identify what you might learn more about in the New Year. And, maybe it won’t be a work-related task but rather an outside activity that brings joy or a different perspective. A friend recently shared that when she was struggling with her job, she took up dancing on Tuesday nights. She learned every dance in the book and laughed her way through some difficult challenges.
This past summer, I tried rock climbing and was so surprised by how much I enjoyed looking for possible routes up the rock face. I experienced pure joy in successfully finding a way to the top. There are always possibilities in everything we do, including our work challenges. Learning or achieving an exciting frontier bolsters your strengths!
Self- cognizance is a powerful mining tool for uncovering our existing jewels. It frees up our natural talents, skills and abilities that aligns us with what is already accessible. Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound founder, summarizes my sentiments is this way:
“There is to be found within us all the necessary reserves of strength and fortitude to meet whatever challenges may arise.”
Get to know yourself in 2014 and reap the sparkling diamonds in your life!