Imagine being asked to write down 5 things that you are interested in.
Now imagine not being able to do that.
I have a teenage client who lacks self-awareness on a level that I have never encountered. His grades are absolutely terrible because he has nothing to be motivated by (dispite the fact that he is above his grade level in all academic areas). Recently I requested that he write down 5 things he liked to do in his free time and to be ready to share them when we next spoke.
A week later he had nothing.
How can a teenager set goals for their future, motivate themselves to achieve in school, and keep their lives moving forward if they cannot connect to a reason why their effort would trump their laziness?
Self-awareness is directly linked to our motivation. It is because of awareness that we are able to gaze out at the world and identify what attracts us. In essence the way we see ourselves aids us in how we navagate towards and/or away from all that life has to offer. Being able to say I want that is the simplest form of goal setting. Not being able to identify our strengths and desires is the simplest form of confusion.
Today my double shot is about self-awareness and the importance it plays in how we navigate our lives. When we can identify the things that interest us and make us happy we are better able to navigate through life’s choices… we are better able to look towards our future and set meaningful goals that we are intrinsically motivated to achieve.
During our coaching session my teenage client and I worked together to identify things about himself and about life that he enjoys. I pushed him to think of a time when he was doing something and noticed that he was having fun doing it.
He told me that he really liked when he learned to grow plants. As a kid he went to a nursery, bought soil and seeds, planted them, and watched them grow. He expressed that he liked the slow process of their development and that during this time he noticed that he was a patient person. He also stated that he seemed to like plants in general.
Coaching allowed him to identify something he enjoyed so that he could use that self-awareness to find motivation in school. He was able to imagine all of the things he could do with plants… study them, landscape with them, and use them to grow food. As we talked about his future possibilities as a “plant person” he was able to visualize his future self and could imagine how he might have a place in society to make a joyful and meaningful contribution, and in turn live a life that honors his values and interests.
The impact that coaching had on this teen could be tremendous. Consider the alternative… being a person in the world who cannot name what they like about themselves or the life they have. That would certainly be devastating.
So how can we develop greater self-awareness?
- Name it and claim it. Make a list of things you like to do and/or that you like about yourself. Feel free to put as many things on the list as you can think of. Strive for at least 5. You can later rank or group things you wrote down so that you can see themes and values in the things you enjoy.
- Visualize your future. Imagine your future self… the person who accomplished all that you want them to. With your eyes closed, take relaxed breaths for about 5-10 minutes. Visualize and fantasize about what you want that future self to be like, to have achieved, to have completed, and to have changed. Journal your thoughts so that the are tangible items and not just figments of imagination.
- Ask friends and loved ones what they want more of from you. You can do this individually or in small groups with people you trust. Ask them to tell you about their impressions of you and to identify specifically what they want more of from you. You’ll be surprised at the responses you get. Understanding what those close to you value about you helps develop self-awareness by reinforcing traits that you already possess. Knowing that such traits are appreciated by loved ones only strengthens your connection to your talents and dispositions.
Peace and love,