The Importance of Self-Awareness: 5 Daily Rituals that Top Performers Use to Achieve and Sustain Success.
Self-awareness: The Foundation of Personal Success
When we wake up, the oldest part of our brain begins to drive us towards our goals that have rewards attached to them. Our routines are formed over time and are created out of habit. We can set ourselves up for a day of success with some careful planning, or failure if we leave our lives up to chance. Research shows that “if you remain in bed for a few extra seconds to become aware of your body and mental state, your brain will function much better for the rest of the day.” You will be able to do more, with less stress. We recommend that you create a morning ritual that will set you up for success that goes hand in hand with your understanding of your self concept with “Who am I?” and “What service am I providing to help others?” Once you have tapped into your authentic self, and are clear about your purpose and meaning in the world, you can work on being more mindful and intentional with your days.
Instead of jumping out of bed, and rushing to begin your day, try these steps for your morning ritual that will leave you feeling more connected to the world and energetic.
5 Daily Morning Ritual Suggestions:
- Wake up, stretch and focus on how you feel. Stand up and stretch your body before you do anything else. Do not check your cell phone, or email inbox in the first hour of waking up, keep your mind focused on yourself and your well-being.
- Start the day with a positive mindset. If you can focus on the positive and pleasurable parts of your day, it will help your brain move towards taking action throughout the day, rather than focusing on your worries. Thinking ahead with intention of your day will set you up for success as you pay attention to what is most important to accomplish.
- Visualize overcoming any obstacles that you might face and this technique has been proven to increase your physical and mental energy to help you reach your goals with efficiency and ease.
- Yawn! This is the fastest way to lower mental stress. “The Library of Congress has documentation that yawning was an exercise used by elementary school teachers in the 1890s” 2 and there is evidence that “yawning before a test can improve your grade point average in school.”
- Be clear about who you are, your purpose and the service you want to provide to impact others. If you can wake up and acknowledge your purpose, you will give yourself a boost of energy to help you through the challenges that will come up. Simon Sinek has built his entire career around this idea in his book “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
How Can We Sustain Our Energy and Motivation?
In order to make long term changes, we must discover our reasons for these changes. Dr. Srini Pillay speaks about how to sustain your motivation in his video “How to Stay Motivated” by Harvard Public Health (May 2016). In this interview, Dr. Pillay mentions that you will be much more likely to stick to your goals when you:
- Know the meaning and purpose behind your goals.
- Have goals that are attached to our lives with meaning outside of ourselves. For example, we want to get healthy so we can stay strong and present with our family and children.
- Are self-accepting and understand that we matter. We understand what we can control, and let go of what we cannot control.
How Do We Discover Our Sense of Purpose and Become More Self-Aware?
Take inventory of all areas of your life. Think about:
Your Future: What do you want to be doing more of? Less of?
Your Work: Are you doing your life’s work? Are there more skills you could learn?
Peers/Friends: Do you nurture your relationships?
Family/Relationships: How are these relationships going?
Physical Activity/Arts: Are you giving yourself the physical activity you need to keep your brain and body healthy?
Community/Contribution: What is meaningful to you?
Rate each of these areas out of 10 and then think of ways you can strengthen and upgrade each area. Self-awareness comes with work, and effort. When you put in this work, you begin to “Know Theyself” and this self-knowledge leads to greater heights of success, health and happiness.
Extend Your Knowledge: Think About This!
When searching for answers within ourselves, sometimes it’s easier to start with other people. Look at other people around you and think about the people in your circles who are self-aware, know who they are, and the things they want and don’t want in their life. Remember, we must never compare ourselves to others, since we are who we are. Learn to identify our authentic, true self, and it will be easier to focus our energy and time on the services we want to provide to others.
Question: Which character from the Netflix Series “Stranger Things” is more self-aware (Jonathan or Stephen) and why?
Answer: Jonathon (the one of the left) because he has discovered his strengths (photography) and he continues to develop himself. He is confident in himself and with who he is. Stephen has not developed this confidence yet.
- Mark Robert Waldman and Chris Manning “Neurowisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness and Success” (Diversion Books, January 2017).
- Library of Congress documentation of the value of yawning (along with early photographic evidence of its use in the classroom): http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/yawn.html
- Simon Sinek “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action” (Portfolio, Dec. 2011).
- How to Stay Motivated YouTube (Harvard Health Publications, May 2016).
- Netflix Series “Stranger Things” image of characters Jonathan and Stephen.