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Joe,

Yesterday in my post about restoring the employee psyche and taking back work, I outlined a list of 6 steps that I believe are the path for any employee who wants to put work back on their terms and begin to change the game for everyone else.  The first of the six steps is self-awareness.

Self-Awareness

How many people do you know who are doing exactly what they want to be doing for work each day?

How many people do you know who are actively pursuing their dreams?

How may people do you know who, if you asked them, could even tell you what their dream job looks like?

Sadly, many people have given up the notion of finding great, exciting work that calls upon them to be their best AND that helps them pursue their dreams.  This is a crisis and it’s where the effort to take back work begins.

Self-awareness is a process of getting a clear, objective understanding of your own talents, skills, passions, and interests.  It’s also about learning where your skills are lacking and where you have blind spots.  Most people would report that they know themselves really well, but research and experience shows that we are a terrible judge of our own attributes.  We can’t see ourselves clearly because too much is at stake.  So, we have to rely on others (and tools like assessments) to help us with this process.   Without a clear understanding of who we are and how we are wired, we simply can’t make good decisions about the type of work that would fulfill us and make us happy.

Beyond this foundational level of self-awareness is another layer which could probably be called “dream-awareness” and it’s related to your awareness of where you are going and what you desire from your work, your career.  Work has come to be what defines so many people.  When we meet people, the first question we often ask is “what do you do for a living?”  We spend more time working than any other activity in our life except sleeping.  So, it is really careless not to spend some time getting clear on what you want out of your work.  When you tell someone what you do for a living, what would make you feel proud to say?  What kind of work gets you so excited you can’t talk about it without boring others to tears and how do you make that a remarkable career path?

Self-awareness and dream-awareness give each of us the framework against which to make decisions about our jobs and careers.  If our current job changes without our permission and suddenly it’s put us on a path that is sending us farther away from our dreams, then it’s time to take action.  Without an awareness of our dreams, then it’s easy to just drift with the winds of work and let the currents of our employer move us whereever they like.  This is the recipe for how too many people wake up one day after working 20 years of a career and realize that they hate their job, their work, and often, a lot of the rest of their life.  And it’s hard to fix after years of drifting.

So, the first step to taking back work as an employee is to invest heavily and intensely in self-awareness to take control of our path.

Monday, I’ll be back to talk about personal accountability.

Jason

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