If there’s one thing we hope you get out of 21 Damn Early Days, it's an increased sense of self-awareness. A better understanding of who you are and what you want from life.
Because in a world that's noisier than ever, with millions of ideas, opinions and thoughts hurled at you each day – each one designed to convince you of one thing or anything – your ability to understand "you" and make choices that align with that is more important than ever.
Oh, it also has the added benefit of bringing you closer to the life you want.
The truth is, there is no one that knows what will work for you and what matters to you better than yourself. There are few decisions that someone else can make for you with the same understanding, insight, and knowledge of who you are as you do.
Once you accept that, and the responsibility to yourself that comes with it, it becomes much easier to embrace the importance of self-awareness.
No, I’m not saying you should make every decision on your own without guidance and insight from others, but to live a good life (as determined by no one but you), you need to be in tune with who you are.
While you may not have all the answers and knowledge in the beginning, self-awareness is the foundation in which all decisions in your life should be made in.
But it only works if you know yourself first.
What Happens When You Don’t Know Yourself
If you don’t spend time to understand yourself you’ll be drawn to the endless, often conflicting advice and ideas out there. You’ll straddled between multiple seemingly good ideas, never sure which to choose. And when you finally do choose, you run the risk of going too far down a road that doesn’t matter, because what’s at the end doesn’t even resonate with you.
A World of Conflicting Ideas
The problem now a days is that we have way too many choices and many of them have at least some value – or they are sold like they do.
Whether its a high-fat diet vs low-fat diet, skipping university vs getting a degree, growing-up now vs growing-up later, blondes vs brunettes, lifting heavy vs cardio, pilates vs yoga, the married life vs staying single – the list goes on and is virtual endless – we're left to choose between multiple seemingly valuable ideas.
We're stuck in the middle with no idea which way to go.
In reality, what separates whether it is good or bad then is you and your understanding of what you need for where you want to go.
Many times we search for answers from the exterior world, falling in love with the certainty that comes from a single, definable and concrete answer given to us by someone else. This answer feels secure and right, and we don’t have to do the work to sort it out, so we buy into it.
What we should be doing is , never stopping to ask whether the road you’re on is right for you leads you to have a coin-flip chance at getting where you want to go in life.
Looking at this for 21 Damn Early Days, for example, for certain people, their body’s work well waking up in the early morning and for others it’s a disaster. We honestly can’t tell you if it’s good or bad for you. That comes from your understanding of yourself. Maybe it’s great, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s not right now.
It’s only by understanding who you are and diving into it and playing around that you’ll get a sense of what works for you.
At the end of 21 Damn Early Days, some of you will walk away knowing with complete certainty that mornings are the best things for their life, as we did, and for others they’ll know it’s just not right. Both are totally okay as long as you gave it an honest chance and reflect on how it affects your life.
Without an understanding of who you are and what matters to you, you’ll be left to flail between many ideas and concept, leaving your like a fish out of water, flopping around.
Self-awareness will bring you closer to your thoughts, feelings emotions and understandings of you and help you to make decisions that ultimately work out for you, regardless of the advice anyone else can give you.
Self-awareness is the foundation of good decision making – maybe not for the world around you, but for you and where you wanting to and need to go.
How To Make More Self-Aware Decisions
To help you, we've put some thoughts together on how to make better and more self-aware decisions.
1. Know What You Want – Or At Least Have An Idea
Let’s start with the obvious. The best way to make good decisions is to know what you want. The more time you spend up front figuring this out, the easier your decisions will be. More than that, being able to distinguish between what you want right now (that next glass of wine) and what you won’t in the long-run (to wake up feeling good).
If you don’t know what you want, I highly recommend spending some time upfront figuring it out. Like I mean actual time sitting down and exploring this – purposefully.
2. Have Some Faith
If you don't have any faith in yourself to make a choice, then you'll live your life afraid to choose.
Whether it’s the media, marketing, or the institutions we belong to, we’re constantly bombarded with messages that we’re not good enough. While this message works well to convince us to work harder, think less and buy more stuff, it also causes ourselves to constantly and unfairly question our worth.
Hearing it often, we begin to downplay our ability to make judgements for ourselves and disbelieve that we have anything to offer to this world. It forces us to look externally for all the answers, rather than internally, which leads us to follow paths that might not align well with who we actually are *cue midlife crisis*.
So, if we have any advice it’s have some faith in who you are and what you want for yourself. You got more in you than you think. We’ll admit, having the confidence to trust yourself is a task on its own, but as you gain it, you’ll feel better about making big decisions in the future.
3. Mess Up
Learning to make good decisions that align with you is both a skill and an art. It’s never easy but is worth taking your entire life to pursue. For many of us, we have shame around making decisions that align with who we are. If we make the right decision, we feel it’s selfish. If we make the wrong decision, we tell ourselves we should have stuck with the status quo.
This mentality is toxic, so stop it. Let yourself mess up.
Don’t be so afraid of making mistakes. Fear of the choice being “bad” keeps you stuck. Accept that you are human. As far as I know, all humans make mistakes. The only ones that won’t give you grace are the ones that have no grace for themselves. So lighten up a bit.
4. Seek Advice, Not Answers
Whether the decision is about your job, your relationships, your health or anything else, every decision you make has one thing in common: you. There is no answer that can come from somebody else. There is no one else living your life, no one else that understands what your day-to-day, thoughts, or gut instincts are like, and no one else that has to spend their entire life with the outcomes of that decision.
That said, being stuck inside our own heads like we often get, it’s never a bad idea to ask for input from an outsider’s perspective. Preferably someone who has been there that can show you what you don’t know you don’t know. This outside perspective will help you weigh your options and spot any biases or irrational tendencies you have.
At the end of the day though, the advice is just advice. While it’s totally cool to get help from others, at the end of the day you got to make the decision for you.
Ask for advice if you feel you need it, but take it with a grain of salt. In the end, you are the one who needs to live with your decision. The gurus won’t be the one with the consequences of your choice.
5. Come At It With The Right Space
We’ve all been there – pissed off, in a mood, and making the worst decisions ever in the moment.
When it comes to important decisions, make sure you’re feeling comfortable and easy before you decide which way to go. Create space and make time to make the decision. If you’re looking for
It's easy to make poor decisions when you're in a bad mood, especially when you're hungry, sleepy, or stressed.
But when it comes to life-changing decisions, try to make sure you're feeling comfortable and at ease before you decide what your next move is going be. Before making the decision, ask yourself these questions from Beth Burgess, a solution-focused therapist. They'll help you slow down and open your views before you make any rash decisions.
6. Listen To Your Brain & Your Gut
Whether you believe it or not, you know yourself better than you think you do. Most often, you just ignore what your instincts are telling you because a) it’s scary, b) you sometimes, you ignore what your gut is telling you because you may not want to face the reality of the decision you have to make.
How to get over this? When you’re making a decision that’s tough, write down everything you’re thinking and try and figure out why you’re feeling that way. Use this to start an inner dialogue with yourself, pulling from both your head and your heart. Once the dialogue starts, you’ll start to see more pieces become clear.
PS. This is basically what a therapist does.
7. Test Yourself
With every decision you have to make, keep a small journal and write down what your head says and what your gut says, then go ahead and make one of the two decisions. Write down which decision you made and why you made it. Once the dust settles from the decision, refer back to it and see how revisit how it all went. f you do this often enough, you’ll notice patterns.
PS. I did this once and realized I’m in a constant conflict between what my head wants (generally what the worlds asking of me) and what my heart wants. I realized that even though my gut decisions weren’t always the best in the short-term, they generally lead to me to be happier and in a better place in the long-term.
But there is no shame in speaking from a place of truth.
You do know things and that far from a bad thing. Actually, you probably know a lot more than you admit to yourself. Thinking you don’t know keeps you from taking the very same good advice you would give to others – and it keeps you dependent on other people.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and take personal responsibility for your life and actually “own” your decisions.
People seem to lose respect for people who are wishy-washy and can’t make their own decisions. In other words, people who can’t think for themselves are also people who don’t respect themselves because they don’t respect their own opinions.
I know some truths that I need to stop denying and start accepting. That unsettled feeling in my gut is there for a reason.
For me, I have come to the belief that I need to always trust my best judgement in situations. Sure, I’ll seek advice, but ultimately the decision is mine and I need to stick to it and follow through.
There are times I will fail, but ultimately, each one will inch me closer to where I want to go. Even if we make the worst possible choice, we still have the freedom to make adjustments.
So let yourself try what feels right for you, and don’t worry about making the “wrong” decision. One of the best things I have learned is that the world is a place to explore, and it will embrace you if you embrace it.
And that to me is a life well lived.