People have been asking me lately if I have any tips for managing a busy life and juggling lots of different activities. I’ve given it some thought, and although I could tell you to be a super-star with time management, colour code your to-do lists and sync your Google calendar with your phone, I actually think the best possible way to manage a busy life is by practicing being self-aware.
We all have natural ebbs and flows.
Being aware of them and living within the boundaries they impose is what makes the difference between feeling stressed and feeling fulfilled.
Here’s a few quick questions to help you determine your personal level of self-awareness …
- Do you ‘reflect-back’ on events after they’ve occurred, assessing your responses in different situations? You might do this by asking yourself questions such as, ‘Why did this person/that comment/those jokes make me feel ________’?
- Can you sense your own moods, and beyond that, have the control to consciously turn them around when you know it needs to happen?
- Are you able to predict your own response to a given set of stimuli (i.e., going to a party with lots of people will make me feel nervous and intimidated, if I try public speaking my voice will start shaking, whenever I see that particular person I say the wrong thing …) and then prevent/change that response?
If you’re answering yes to all of these, then congrats – you must be pretty self-aware already. But for most of us, we rarely take the time to reflect back on our responses to things and really analyse them to find the source of our behaviour; be it good or bad. It’s even harder to actually change the way we know we’d usually respond to something.
However, although it may be difficult, it’s only by being self-aware that we can ride the wave of life rather than be sucked down into every rip that comes along. There’s a saying I love; ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.
Your moods will change; guaranteed. Each month you’ll have highs and lows, but if you know when they’re coming, you can work with them, not against them. Think of getting to know yourself as a project. Step outside of the situations you’re in and be your own observer (but not too obviously or people will wonder about the glazed look in your eyes!).
‘Know Thyself’ wasn’t in the Socratic rule-book for nothing.