Knowing yourself completely is difficult, and it’s impossible to solve for every single cognitive bias you have. But just because we suck at it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. You can’t solve every problem in your life, but you can make some headway on minor changes. Here are a few ways of doing just that:
- Learn to look at yourself objectively: It’s nearly impossible to actually look at yourself objectively, but it’s always worth a shot. As we’ve talked about before, the main idea here is to study and criticize your decisions. Even better, find some trustworthy friends to talk with and listen to their criticisms.
- Write your own manifesto: The main purpose of self-awareness is self-improvement, so it makes sense that you need to have goals. If you’re struggling with that part, a manifesto is a great way to push yourself into figuring out what you want.
- Keep a journal: As Kahneman noted above, our memory colors the past pretty deeply. If you want a more accurate gauge of yourself, a journal is a great way to get it. A journal makes you more aware of what you’re doing and where problems might be coming from because you can document anything. If you spend time documenting the little things, like food intake, water intake, or sleep, you might notice a larger trend that you can correct for. If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of your decision making skills, Harvard Business Review suggests writing down what you think will happen with a decision, then wait nine or ten months and review what you wrote.
- Perform a self-review: The self-review is one of those annoying little things we all do at work, but you can make them beneficial if you think of them more as a thought experiment. Instead of spending your time thinking about what you should improve about yourself, think about what you boss thinks you should do and what co-workers might say. This way, you can see yourself from someone else’s perspective and gain a little extra insight into yourself.
It’s important to remember that self-awareness is introspection, but it’s not navel gazing. Self-absorption and overthinking doesn’t get you anywhere, but being aware of your needs and acting on them can help you improve. You might not realize how often what you’re doing doesn’t correlate to what you want.