How well do you really know yourself?
Self awareness is one of those topics in career related discussions that often gets mistaken for the feedback you receive from your manager or peers. Yes, it's certainly one form of getting to know yourself a little better but it's not the full picture. Becoming self-aware is much, much more than just receiving feedback.
If I were to ask you how others at work perceive you, would you be able to answer it truthfully and honestly? Funnily enough, it's the one question that stumps a lot of the people I interview. Some get shy, others feel defensive and most times I get generic answers like "hard worker". That may certainly be the case but being self aware will help you articulate your strengths, environments you enjoy working in and what gets the best out of you. How many of you have been asked this question only to realise you have no effin' clue!
I've been thinking about how to help all of you get a little more self awareness into your life. So I tested a bunch of methods to finally land on this one! Self awareness starts with self assessment. It's the first step in career planning and is a hugely valuable tool to drive career direction, perhaps a career pivot or leaning about your preferences that will get you feeling satisfied in your current job.
The ultimate career quiz
Not only are you incredibly unique but so are your motivations and career preferences. Let's take a moment to imagine the awesome conversations you could be having if you were able to clearly articulate your skills and what kind of behaviours drive you to perform at your best. Often when I'm Coaching a client I recommend them to undertake a career quiz. One such quiz I use is known as The Birkman Method, which uses scientific data to explore five important areas of who you are. They are:
- Your interests. What you like and the activities you enjoy;
- Your strengths. How you relate to the world and how others perceive you;
- Your motivations. What kind of supportive environment you seek from others;
- What stresses you out. The behaviour you lean on when you're not feeling it; and
- Your ideal work environment. The environment that offers the best fit for you.
Once we explore these 5 areas, the report will then generate a list of potential job families and job titles suited for you to explore! Perhaps ones you've never thought of before!
If you're able to already articulate the above, that's amazing! Let's talk about how to piece together these clues to get you on your dream career path.
Often even a scientifically backed test can't give you all the answers. Being the complicated creatures that we are, there are layers (like an onion) to peel back to really understand how our interests, strengths, motivations, stresses and work environment interweave to make up your dream career path.
Take the results of your career quiz and read them over a few times and discuss them with a career coach you trust or some objective peers in your life. If you already have a good sense of your preferences, check in with them!
It's important to reflect on some of the areas that surprise you and tease out which parts you don't agree with. In any self awareness exercise discovering your profile should be backed with some affirmations.
- what are your strong points?
- what are the potential blind spots that you didn't know you had?
- what would you like to stop doing?
- what are you going to start doing differently?
- what are you going to continue to do?
It's important to remember that our preferences, styles and behaviours are really mouldable and can shift over time. I found the biggest shift for me was around my thinking style. In meeting new people I began to shift away from following certain guidelines to challenging them and asking 'why' much more. Perhaps you can relate too? You rebel you...
Unpacking your awareness
With all of this new found self awareness in mind, there's no actual value in it unless you can take some affirmative action.
In discovering or reconnecting your interests, perhaps it's time take up that hobby you always wanted to try! Take those singing lessons or sign up for a yoga class. Whilst these interests may not directly relate to making ship loads of money, you'll be finding a path that will help you bolster a successful career with a satisfying lifestyle.
Finding better ways to relate to others and identifying their strengths will change your perception of your team and the leaders you work around. Maybe you've been feeling frustrated at work, and now you're able to identify exactly why! A conflict of styles can often be resolved with some self awareness and helping others understand how you best work. For instance, my personal style is quite friendly, decisive and energetic and I can find it difficult to collaborate with individuals who are cautious and orderly. Since identifying this, I've been able to structure conversations and change my style to get the most of our collaboration! Can you relate?
Motivations are arguably the most important part to finding a career and employment environment that will help you thrive. For example, I prefer to have flexibility and undefined projects to work on. When I was last in an interview room I asked questions such as, "how dynamic is the working environment and how much freedom is there to make decisions without the red tape?"
Do you see how important self awareness is to find an employer of choice?
Understanding how you react under stress is like waking up in the morning and looking at your hungover state in the mirror - perhaps not the prettiest picture in the world! The negative behaviour that rears it's ugly head in stressful situations can cost you that next promotion and damage your personal brand. The moment that comes to my mind, is when one of my managers yelled at the team for a total of 30 seconds and stormed out the room like a child... the entire room burst out laughing and well, needless to say we all lost some respect for that manager that day.
Finally, the best part to self awareness is choosing the best work environment for you. As you know it's my mission to get you to #lovemondays the way I do. Finding the ideal environment for you isn't so much about your physical surroundings (although working with a beach view is pretty sweet)... instead it's more about your employer's culture. Do they have flexible rules? Are they collaborators? Are they stable? Do they allow you to have a side hustle? All of these make up elements of the right place for you and where you can see yourself feeling most at home.
So how are you feeling about your own self-awareness? Are you ready to dive into getting to know yourself a little better? Are you ready to find the map and stop feeling lost in your career? Self assessment is the very first step and I'll be there every other step of the way..
So come on! Let's do this, join me now and get started on your career quiz today.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruby coaches career minded individuals who are on a quest to find their dream role and build a career around it. With 8 years experience in the HR an Recruiting industry Ruby is set to help you create a career that brings fulfillment, success and a happiness. She leads an active social community on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. When she's not working, she's goofing around with her one year old son and is always up for a coffee or two!