The past couple years have been life changing. I’ve realized things about myself. I’ve stopped caring about the opinions of others. I’ve accepted the things I can’t control and focused on the things I can.
I can’t pinpoint when behavior shifted, but over time, I grew into another person. I no longer care to get my nails done every two weeks. I no longer want the exact outfit I see on an Instagram model. I no longer seem to be interested in the same things.
The pandemic contributed to speeding up my awareness. I didn’t want to waste time on the same habits. I wanted to learn and grow. The past year has been instrumental beginning to understand who I want to be.
While I am still piecing this together, I have learned some things along the way that contributed to my self-awareness.
There’s a difference between going through the motions of life and living it.
I’ve spent much of my life going through motions. I needed to do X to get to Y. My to do list circled my mind each morning. I rushed through the day. Not having anywhere to go during Covid made me reflect on time spent rushing.
I was rushing to get through tasks so that I could sit on the couch.
When the couch didn’t seem interesting anymore, I realized I was rushing to go nowhere. Each day, I’d rush. I’d stress due to rushing. And in the end, I was rushing to go nowhere.
Writing in a gratitude journal helped me understand my behavior. Each day, I wrote the same thing. I wanted to have a slow purposeful day. I didn’t write I wanted to rush through my tasks. By taking the time to evaluate what I wanted, I was able to reset.
Through writing, I’ve learned what contributes to having a good day. Now, I focus on those things.
You don’t start out knowing who you will become.
You may know who you are today but you don’t know who you will become. We understand who we want to be by doing things. By trying things and evaluating whether we like them or not, we slowly establish who we are.
You can’t say you don’t like Brazilian Jiu Jitu if you haven’t tried it. Four years ago, I wouldn’t identify myself as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner. But after training for three years, I can add that to my identity.
We don’t know who we will become until we try things.
Comfort won’t make you self-aware.
We’re all familiar with the comfort zone diagram. We know magic happens outside that zone. What I didn’t know was that within the magic happens circle, there is another comfort zone.
Over time, your discomfort becomes comfortable. It’s at this point, you need to challenge yourself again.
This was a very hard concept for me to accept. Jiu Jitsu is so far outside my comfort zone that it took me a lot to get motivated for class. I consistently had to push myself. Once I became comfortable, it was just another hobby of mine. Life went back to normal. Sure, I had accomplishments here and there but the challenge of going every day didn’t exist anymore.
Once we achieve these plateaus, we need to find the next thing that will challenge us. Eight years ago, after having my first child, I needed an activity to lose the baby weight. I started running. Running evolved into hiring a personal trainer. The training sessions evolved into CrossFit. CrossFit evolved into body building. Body building evolved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This fitness evolution is due to establishing comfort. Had I not started running, I wouldn’t have had the foundation to try Jiu Jitsu. While it was still outside my comfort zone, I had worked my way up to that challenge.
Consistently doing the same things will shape who you become.
Had I continued running, I would have had a marathon under my belt by now. Had I stayed at CrossFit, I’d be able to back squat twice my body weight. As soon as I got comfortable with an activity, I got bored and switched. The one activity I’ve managed to continue for the past ten years has been hiking. I never tire of a hike. By consistently hiking, I’ve established that I’m a hiker. By consistently drinking wine, I have established that I’m a wine drinker.
Our daily habits shape our identities.
If you wondering why you can’t seem to drink enough water, take a look at how easy it is to access water during the day. Do you have a water bottle on your desk, or in your car? Do you always keep it in arm’s reach? Do you keep track of how many bottles you drank? You don’t drink enough water because you don’t make it easy for you to drink.
This realization has been profound for me. In order for me to become who I want to be, I need to make sure I am doing something towards that each day.
You need to know who you want to be.
The most important part of self-awareness is not understanding who you are today. The most important part is understanding who you want to be. When asked who I am, I say mother, wife, and project manager. I don’t explain myself in terms of who I want to be. I don’t say I’m a novice guitar player, or a budding author. Instead, I tell people the things I know are already true.
If you start identifying yourself as who you want to be, you’ll begin to believe it. You’ll start doing things daily to get to your destination. One of my coworkers once told me to act as if I had the position I wanted. If I acted as if I had the position I wanted and completed the responsibilities of the desired role, it would eventually come to me. This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.
If you identify yourself as who you want to be, you’ll start to believe it. If you start to believe it, you’ll do things daily to achieve it.
Identify, believe, act. This is the order we should follow to become the people we want to be.
I’m a guitar player and a writer. Who are you?