Tracy Winchell

What does self-awareness mean to you?

published2 months ago
3 min read

Hey Reader,

In the digital Tools for Thought (TfT) journaling space, we talk about Personal Knowledge Management (PKM).

For my analog friends, PKM is a digital structure by which we build personal libraries that:

  • Collect information
  • Distill what we have read by re-writing key concepts
  • Organize everything (receipts, tax info, warranties, etc.)

Throughout the past 6 weeks of 5 Steps to Help You Build a Functional Self-Awareness System, I've labeled the techniques in this series as "self-awareness tools."

The more I think about it; self-awareness seems akin to our ability to "read a room" and respond accordingly.

Do a Twitter search. Self-awareness is overwhelmingly used to describe a politician or celebrity who has stuck their foot in their mouth. It's a criticism aimed at someone else instead of a personal attribute.

What I write about each week in this newsletter is something different entirely.

Time to replace "self-awareness

The following term seems more appropriate than "self-awareness" or "self-reflection."

Self-knowledge is a broad term which implies the awareness of one's feelings, attributes, motivations, and abilities. It is important to note that self-knowledge is not a static type of information to acquire but rather is a dynamic and constant changing as you are.
-- McGill University (SKILLSETS)

We are constantly changing individuals. We rarely notice because we have little evidence to measure day-to-day and month-to-month changes.

When we drift through life, we wake up one day and find we have mentally and emotionally deteriorated.

That we are capable of change is exciting. Being intentional each day, measuring struggle, and celebrating victory are exciting ways to live, yes?

Journaling helps us:

  • Collect thoughts & emotions
  • Evaluate and organize patterns
  • Develop an action plan for improvement
  • Create new neural pathways toward the mindsets we seek

Series Review

We began this series by promising that -- after six weeks -- you would learn 3 things:

  • Engage your rational mind
  • Shush your monkey mind
  • Manage stress

You have learned to:

  1. Adjust expectations
  2. Leverage the search superpowers of digital self-reflection
  3. Build your self-reflection practice
  4. Make your practice your own

I hope you have learned to have fun through curating lists of your favorite funny people, TV shows, films, and more as a means for seeking out laughter.

Digital Tools for Thought Practitioners

The reflection structures we have shared make terrific automated templates. Use in conjunction with your Daily Notes structures or create an unobtrusive reminder that "this is where I complete journaling exercise x or y."

I set up my Roam Daily Notes Page as a series of buttons that fire SmartBlocks for each [[journaling]] stack.

Regardless of which TfT platform you use, be intentional about your chosen technique and where the reflection makes sense.

Your journaling prompts need to flow with your current TfT daily activities.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which stack will most help guide my thoughts to a process I already do inside my existing daily notes page process?
  • Which stack can I pair with a reflection following one of my daily graph maintenance activities?

Try the new addition to your existing structure for a week or so. If it helps, keep going. If not, ditch the technique and move to the following stack.

Self-Knowledge vs. Self-Awareness

10 years ago, when I was googling for journaling advice and techniques, I found tips for beginning a practice in x easy steps, or y prompts for new journalers, and z reasons journaling is good for you.

No one ever answered my most frustrating question, "Why am I having so much trouble with a daily practice?"

Next Wednesday, we begin a new series that answers the questions I never learned from those well-meaning journaling pros.

During the next 4 weeks, you will learn to identify friction points keeping you from journaling consistently. Then you will apply step-by-step myth-busting processes as you lean into the pursuit of self-knowledge.

If you are a digital journaler, we have special instructions for choosing a tool.

Analog journalers, you will learn how to pick a dang pen and paper tool, absent the pen, paper, and notebook styles we all covet.

Week 1: Three points of friction & how we will crush them

Week 2: Three journaling myths & their corresponding truths

Week 3: Tool selection

Week 4: How to know if your practice is working.

As I finish writing the series, I would appreciate your input.

Reply to this email with your response to the following question:

What's YOUR most pernicious point of friction?


P: S: We have one more office hour scheduled as we wrap up this series. It's not too late to join us. Hit the button below.

Weekly office hours accompany this series.

Previous installments of this series

PART 1: Introducing 5 Steps to Help You Build a Functional Self-Awareness System

PART 2: Adjusting Your Expectations

PART 3: (Demo) Semantic Goldmines: Reflections that only happen in a digital environment

PART 4: Self-Awareness for a Reasonably Happy Life

PART 5: How to Construct a Self-Accountability Framework

PART 6: 3 Ideas for Intentionalizing Laughter & Why It's Important