It is not uncommon for one to dream about making great progress and attaining an enviable state of success. In fact, many public figures did not hit upon success without proper goal planning. To do so, it is insufficient to simply think about being successful. Researchers define people skills as three sets of abilities, namely, personal effectiveness, interaction ability and being able to intercede easily. While hard skills are important, a repertoire of soft skills enables one to navigate effectively in the unpredictable waters of life. Among ten life skills listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), self-awareness is the first skill that is essential in identifying our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. With recognition of ‘self’, we can establish our own standards, make better decisions and delineate the best life path to take.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes”William James (Psychologist)
In the feudal societies of the Middle Ages, the ability of any individual to accumulate material wealth was largely limited to the amount of belongings they could reasonably possess. In contrast, the opportunities for wealth accumulation today are radically different from those of the past. Such opportunities are now in abundance with the advent of technology. Apart from tangible materials, people in modern society accumulate wealth through tradable tangible assets in the form of financial instruments. Today, the possibilities of wealth generation are far-reaching. This, however, encourages an obsession with power, wealth and achievements which can create a sense of apathy and reduce the quality of life.
Yet, there are still many celebrities, businessmen, politicians and notable figures who share their luxurious lifestyle on their social media accounts – despite their massive obligations, they could afford such lifestyles that make us wonder how they could pull off this feat. Unimaginable luxuries and pleasure, the ease of attaining a work-life balance and a day that seemingly has 48-hours all seem surreal yet attainable, making the ordinary worker cringe with jealousy. Dan Schawbel, from Forbes, had spoken to over 1,200 CEOs, celebrities, authors, politicians and even an astronaut. When speaking to these individuals, he noticed they share common traits of having greater self-awareness. Through self-awareness, they make decisions about their future, assess their weaknesses early in life and have more room for goal realignment as failures arise.
Successful leaders of this century recognise the importance of self-awareness: being fully aware of what they want in life and what they can do to balance their priorities, in order to attain them. Virgin Group, a British multinational conglomerate founded by entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, is highly successful but success only came with a sense of self-awareness that the founders themselves believe in. Branson’s success can be attributed to hard work that includes late nights and working through the weekends. His tenacity kept him going, never allowing inexperience to discourage him from his goals as an entrepreneur. Such tenacity becomes the engine of life. Leaders evaluate their positions constantly and assess how much of their effort contributes to their career fulfilment and how far they are from having a better life.
How then could the average Joe achieve such success? It depends largely on their ability to discern what is ‘urgent and important’ from things on their agenda as ‘important and significant’. To beat one’s personal goals, planning ahead is an important attribute. For the unfortunate ones who never stop to ponder, they may find themselves spiralling into oblivion, working away without any form of progress or adjustments to their life quality. Where time is a commodity, they would then realise that little could soon be done to amass more income or savings to fund their retirement. That is, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. No one could be blamed further for gazing enviously at an iPad screen, envisioning a dream vacation on a river cruise to Danube that would never be fulfilled.