The Importance of Self-Awareness

Go hard. Go as hard as you can. Be excited about what you’re doing and tell the world about it.

But check yourself.

The other day, one of my mentors told me something that impresses her is self-awareness. The ability to stop and look in the mirror. Am I really achieving my goals? Do I like what I’m doing? What do I want to be doing in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years from now? Where am I headed?

Be honest with yourself.

To keep yourself in check you have to learn to be honest with yourself. Sometimes brutally honest. Figure out what your deficiencies are and if they’re even important. Then work on the ones that are. If you’re doing something important and it’s shitty, you’re being lazy, you don’t have the energy, or you don’t have the time. In any case, you’re being a jerk to anyone who relies on that task. Be honest with yourself about that. Don’t make yourself feel like trash, but figure out what to do to fix the situation.

I’m working on writing more. I’m practicing design more. Knowing what I’m not good at makes me conscious of my need to get better.

Don’t get bogged down by stuff that’s not important.

Sometimes we try to focus on things we feel should help us when they really don’t. Over the past three years I’ve told myself I need to learn raw php (a server-side programming language commonly used on the web.) I’ve done courses and tutorials off and on, but I’m not fluent in it. It’s like I took Spanish 1 a couple semesters ago and I’ve pretty much forgotten a lot of it but could probably read it if I had to.

Well you know what? If php was really that important of a skill for me, I would know it by now. But I don’t. And I love where I am and what I’m doing. Does that mean I should never learn php? Not necessarily. But letting go of that weight for now has allowed me to focus on stuff like the blog and design.

Do you like your trajectory?

Look at the road you’re on. Where is it taking you? Do you like what you see? Sometimes the answer is no, and that’s perfectly fine.

My best friend Jared is a phenomenal photographer; he was working at studios and running a freelance business with employees by the time we were juniors. Then he realized he didn’t like it and he decided to dive into design and copywriting. He’s got talent, and it’s not quite refined yet, but he’s working his ass off to get there. All that on top of welcoming a new child into the world, taking care of a family of four, AND taking a full-time course load with plans to go to graduate school. If there’s someone who should have been scared of a jump like that, it should have been him.

But he’s handling it because that’s where his heart is.

Be honest about where you see your future and make a transition if you want to do other things. It might be hard but you’ll be glad you took the leap.

Why all of this matters

Being self-aware allows you prioritize your skills and refine them so you can bend your path wherever you want it to go. When you can be honest with yourself about yourself, success is a much clearer destination.

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