The Self-aware Self

A key part of the value of the quantified self is awareness. We know how to coach ourself when we give ourselves enough purposeful attention.

I’ve been travelling for work recently. Being away from home has put out my usual diet. I just didn’t have my usual options or as much ability to cook. Feeling the effects, I decided recently to start tracking my meals using the Fitbit app. I wanted to know what I was eating.

There were three quick lessons from this experience:
– the Hawthorne effect works: just being aware I was recording my meals ( with no cheating) helped me make better choices.
– after a few days I realised I didn’t need to know the data. If I concentrated on what my body was telling me, I knew whether I was hungry, when I had enough and what I shouldn’t eat. If I listened closely to those messages I could make better decisions without data.
– I enjoyed eating more, because I noticed what I was eating.

A big part of the value of the quantified self is helping us become more self-aware. We all benefit when we step out of busy distracted mode. There can be great value in novel insights from data. Usually, our problems are much simpler. We don’t need machines to tell us things we know but don’t do. We need to learn how to be more present and how to better coach ourselves.

The Mindfulness of Working Out Loud

‘Pay attention in a particular way – on purpose in the present moment and non-judgementally’ – Jon Kabat-Zinn 

Reinforcing loop

Mindfulness and working out loud go hand in hand. John Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness echoes many discussions of working out loud. We need to be purposeful. We suspend judgement. We focus on what we are doing now. Working out loud is one practice that helps bring a mindful approach to work. 

Working out loud can bring many of the same benefits of mindfulness practices too. In addition to helping us to learn, working out loud improves our openness, generosity, acceptance and curiosity by keeping us in this moment and asking us to practice these very challenges. 

Working Out Loud to Be More Mindful

Challenging ourselves to be purposeful in work and to share that purpose with others can help our mindfulness as we go about work. 

Being present in the moment through working out loud helps us to see new opportunities. We begin to see limits to our expertise. We see the value of others. We are guided to see the doors we fly past in the busy challenges of work.  

Sharing that which is incomplete takes a willingness to surrender judgement. We need to turn off all our past issues and our future concerns and share now. Focusing on being present without judgement in our work offers powerful opportunities to learn, to adapt and also to connect to others with new depth.

In busy work lives, mindfulness that can keep us present, open and connected is important to our health and success. The habit of Working out loud can be a part of that practice.