Do you consider yourself to be self-aware? Do you know yourself and are you in control of your emotions? Most of the people I've asked this question to answer positively, yet a lot of people struggle with self-awareness. There are some important things that you should know about yourself, and I want to show you why.
Whether it's simply your net worth, or what things annoy you most in life, it's important to know these things about yourself. If you're not aware of these important things, you risk acting out of touch with reality which keeps you from living a happier life.
So grab a pen and a piece of paper, and see if you already know these 7 important things about yourself!
- The importance of knowing yourself a.k.a. self-awareness
- The most important things to know about yourself
- Wrapping up
The importance of knowing yourself a.k.a. self-awareness
There are many things you should know about yourself, although not all of them are equally important. Sure, you should have a vague idea of your goals in life, or simply where you plan to be in a week's time.
But there are some things that are more important to know about yourself, and these things will make you more self-aware.
Being self-aware is simply good for your psychological well-being. For example, a 2010 study found a significant correlation between self-awareness and well-being in mental health professionals, a population with a high risk of burnout. Furthermore, self-awareness is important in leadership and business, as well. A 2019 study conducted by Green Peak Partners consulting firm and Cornell University researchers showed that a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall leadership success.
If you're ready for increasing your level of self-awareness, I suggest you grab a pen and piece of paper or an empty notebook. If you can write down your answers to all the questions I'm about to ask in this article, you'll learn a lot about yourself that you probably didn't know before.
The most important things to know about yourself
Here are 7 things you need to know about yourself, that will surely help you become more self-aware.
1. Know the things that annoy you most
Do you ever find yourself annoyed by something, even when you were having a fun time?
Of course, you do, you're only human!
If you're self-aware enough, you'll know what things annoy you the most. And by realizing these "annoyance factors" in your life, you can actually steer your life in the opposite direction.
For me personally, the things that annoy me most are:
- Being stuck in traffic (that's why I'd rather wake up at 05:30 AM to beat the rush).
- When the wire of your earpiece gets stuck behind the doorhandle.
- Overly loud people.
- Super touristy places where you have to wait in line to have a 1-minute photo opportunity.
- Pushy salesmen (which is why I order everything online).
- Crowded clubs.
- Loud music at concerts (which is why I bring my earplugs wherever I go).
- having to work in a super messy room.
Maybe this sounds a bit too much for you, and I can see why.
But I'd rather be happy by avoiding the things that annoy me than to be a "go with the flow" type of guy and suddenly find myself annoyed at a crowded club. Knowing about these things helps me avoid scenarios that affect my overall happiness.
2. Know your net worth
This may not be the most "sexy" or spiritual thing to know about yourself, but it's very important nonetheless. You need to know - roughly - what your net worth is.
In financial terms, net worth means the dollar amount of all your assets minus your liabilities. In normal terms, this means adding up all your money, savings, investments, and valuable property and subtracting all the debt you have.
By knowing your net worth, you're more likely to live within your means. This is super important, especially in a time where both materialism and consumerism are on the rise.
According to a survey published by Fool.com, 56% of Americans have $5,000 or less in savings, while a third have $1,000 or less.
If you have saved up $15,000 in a savings account, but still have a student loan debt of $20,000, your net worth is minus $5,000.
If you're unaware of this situation, you might be fooled to believe that you have plenty of money saved up, and therefore can afford to go on that luxury holiday next summer.
Again, talking about finances may not be the most "sexy" thing to do, but it's really important to know your net worth.
I've written about the concept of having "F-you money" in a previous article. F-you money is basically an emergency fund that can take care of your expenses when you lose your income. Why is it called F-you money? Because for every dollar in your emergency fund, you’ll find it easier to say “no” to your job whenever it affects your happiness too much.
This amazing article explains F-you money way better than I ever could, and it demonstrates why it's so important to know your net worth. There are many things that money can buy, but the most valuable of all is freedom. By having F-you money, you’re better able to say “no” at work more often, so that you can spend your free time doing the things that make you happy.
3. Know how you make the world a better place
I'm sure you haven't heard this one before, as this one might be a little unconventional.
We all know the world is currently suffering. The world is terrorized by climate change, income inequality, racism, conflicts, and many more bad things.
An important thing to know about yourself is how you (plan to) make the world a better place.
If you don't want to make the world a better place, then so be it. You do you. But if you want to help bring positive change to the world you live in, it's important to know how you plan to do so.
For example, you could:
- Help your community by volunteering.
- Make sure your kids are growing up with great morals and beliefs.
- Spread awareness for the growing climate crisis and live more sustainable.
- Adopt a vegan lifestyle.
- Donate 5% of your paycheck to a good cause.
The list goes on.
My point here is that everybody believes he or she is a good person. But would you be able to fully explain why you think that is? If someone asked you why, would you have a good answer?
4. Know how much you don't know
Have you ever heard of the “Dunning-Kruger effect“? It's a human concept that can best be explained by this quote:
The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.Aristotle
Whenever I hear someone say "I don't know", I see it as a sign of that person being self-aware.
It's impossible to be an expert in everything. And if you think you are, you may need a reality check. Alternatively, if you think that someone saying "I don't know" is equal to that person being clueless, then I think you're wrong.
By being aware of the things you don't know, you're aware of your strengths and shortcomings. Having the honesty, decency, and know-how to acknowledge your shortcomings is a sign of wisdom instead of cluelessness. If you don’t understand this basic principle, then you should work on your self-awareness some more. Luckily, self-awareness is a skill that can be improved:
- You can journal for self-awareness
- Self-awareness can be taught
- Here are 4 ways to improve your self-awareness
5. Know who the most important people in your life are
How much happiness do the people around you bring you? If I asked you to rank your friends from top to bottom, would you be able to? Who makes you consistently the happiest? And who would rank at the bottom?
There's this interesting quote that goes around the internet:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.Jim Rohn
I'm not sure where this came from, and if there's any scientific evidence of this being true. But it's commonly known that humans are social animals, and the concept of Groupthink has been demonstrated widely. This means that a group of people tends to act uniformly and in harmony, which lowers the individual's ability to voice his or her own opinion. That explains why someone's personality can change when switching between different groups of people.
Anyway, it's important to know how the people you spend your time with influence you. How happy does spending time with your group of friends from work make you in comparison to spending time with your partner?
Again, it's important to know who you find most important in your life.
This is not to say that you should drop every contact you have with people that don't always make you happy. Being a good friend also means being there for your friends when they need your help. Also, being a volunteer at a nursing home might not make you the happiest right away, but it can provide you with a sense of purpose that's equally as important.
6. Know how much luck you've had in your life
This is another fun one to think about. Another important thing to know about yourself is to know how much luck you've had in your life.
There's a common human bias called the self-serving bias. This common bias causes you to believe that all your successes are a result of your hard work, whereas your failures are caused by external circumstances or bad luck.
But have you ever considered the complete opposite? Do you know how often luck has played a role in your life?
Crediting our successes to luck doesn’t make us look good to others, so our minds often want to believe that there’s no luck involved in our successes. However, it's important to know this about yourself.
In my opinion, it's really important to be aware of how luck has played a role in your life. This keeps you from acting out of touch with reality and being ignorant and entitled. It keeps you from showing signs of lacking self-awareness.
How do you counter this lack of self-awareness? Try to be more humble every now and then, and think about your past successes and try to spot the lucky instances you’ve enjoyed.
7. Know your biggest happiness factors
This last important thing to know about yourself is arguably the most fun to think about.
What are your biggest happiness factors? In other words, what things in life make you the happiest?
Do you find happiness in a quiet afternoon reading a book with a warm cup of tea? Or are you happiest when you have a nice dinner with your family and siblings?
A good exercise here is to first list everything that comes to your mind. If I were to do this myself right now, I'd come up with:
- Spending time relaxing with my girlfriend.
- Enjoying a cup of coffee when I'm working on Tracking Happiness.
- Skateboarding at the local park.
- Playing guitar.
- Solving hard sudoku puzzles.
- Having drinks with friends.
- Playing videogames.
- Reading books.
The next step is to add two columns to your list, one for quantity and the other for quality. In other words, you want to determine how often and how much these factors add happiness to your life.
This fun exercise will help you realize which things in life are the most important to you. This will help you realize how to be happy.
It's also a good exercise to think of how much control you have over each happiness factor. There's only so much we can control in our lives, and you don't want to spend your time and energy on things you can't control anyway.
(ps: Keeping track of happiness factors is something I've done every day since 2013. If you want to try this for yourself, sign up here to learn more!)
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Did you make it all the way through the end? If you've written along with every part of this post, you should know things about yourself that you didn't know before. And if you do, you are a more self-aware person than you were before, which increases your chances of living a happy and fulfilling life.
What do you think? Did I miss another important thing that you should know about yourself? What are you having the most trouble with? Let me know in the comments below!