The SELF Steps: Step 1 – Awareness
When I developed the SELF Steps (Seeking, Expression, Love, Fulfilment), it was instinctive that the first step needed to be Awareness.
Why? Because you cannot begin to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from. That’s why the whole of the first stage of the SELF model is dedicated to Seeking, in fact.
If you’re going to achieve a fulfilled life – you know the type, the one where you live how you want to and not one that is based on the expectations of others – then you have to know where you are right now.
Sometimes, achieving this awareness can be hard. If you’re anything like me – or how I used to be – you spend your time with your head down and just ploughing forward with life. On an endless treadmill of your own perfectionism and meeting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own – with little time to think and little inclination to do so because the truth would be pretty unpalatable.
Yet, if you stop for a moment and lift your gaze from the ground whizzing scarily fast beneath your feet – or, more accurately perhaps, from being lost in your phone – you might just take in a scene that will lead you to change your life. Sound dramatic? Maybe. But, in truth, how much time have you wasted already in your life? In a toxic relationship.
Putting up with an a**hole of a boss. Not articulating your dreams. Hanging around with the wrong ‘friends’. We’ve all done it. Most still are. Many will never change.
I don’t think that’s you though. You aren’t here to be mediocre. To dim your light. To merely… exist.
It’s time to start on the road to fulfillment. To make your life count for something. To stop wasting the one thing we know for sure we have a finite amount of: time.
So what can you do?
Start by understanding where you are. Ask yourself these three questions (and be super honest with the answers!):
- When you look around you, what do you see?
- Tune into the sounds of your life – what do you hear?
- Tap into your emotions – how do you feel about your life?
Like I said, the answers to these might be tough. You may discover things you don’t like or are not very proud that you’re tolerating.
Once you’ve answered these questions. I want you to do the exercise again. This time, though, I want you to visualise your ideal life. Now, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is one where you have won the lottery and spend every day on a permanent holiday or shopping trip – the reality is that those are not the things that make us ‘happy’. It’s more about people than possessions. So really think about how you’d live your values. How you’d have purpose and meaning. Feel fulfilled (because this is actually the key to our contentment).
Now you have those two versions of your life, make a comparison between them. A bit like a ‘Spot the Difference’ puzzle. Where are the contrasts and anomalies?
When you understand that gap, then you can write a problem statement about the challenge you face to get from the life you have to the life you want. Now that statement shouldn’t be ‘make more money’, it should be about behaviours you need to change to achieve that life.