Is your life what you imagined it would be? For many the answer is no. Life gets in the way, circumstances change, and you have responsibilities. Life doesn’t work like that. You just haven’t had your lucky break yet. Or maybe you’re waiting for the right moment. And so it goes on.
Did you know that nothing changes unless you change it? If you want to live the life you imagine that you can live, should live, or want to live, then you have to be the one in control. It’s not always easy. If you don’t feel empowered to direct and control your life, it can get away from you.
No matter what you are seeking – more wealth, less weight, a happier marriage, a better job – it can only happen if you do something about it. Tired of people treating you poorly? Do something about it. Tired of being sick and unhealthy? Do something about it. Want your kids to do what they are told without ever arguing? Do… well, that might be impossible, but you can make it better. The point is, nothing changes if nothing changes. If you want something to be better, it’s up to YOU to take the necessary steps to see that it happens. You have the power.
What Is Personal Empowerment and Why Is It Important?
Personal empowerment is a collection of beliefs, actions and skills all working together to help you live a life that you design. Personal empowerment begins with a bit of self-awareness. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to have a positive but realistic view of yourself.
The awareness that’s required doesn’t stop with your skills and abilities. It also includes your values and your goals. To be empowered you have to know what you want for your life and why.
Imagine deciding to choose a career based simply on the salary you might earn. Some people do make this choice; however, if they’re not motivated by money or don’t feel like their values are aligned with their career choice, ultimately they’ll end up unhappy and unsatisfied. The characteristics of empowerment are important.
Another element or component of personal empowerment is a positive mindset and a belief in yourself. It’s not enough to want to achieve a goal; you have to know that you are capable of achieving your goal. If you don’t, you won’t.
Finally, while it’s not talked about often as a dimension of personal or self-empowerment, it’s also important to be ready, willing, and able to go after what you want. Someone can set goals and then plan and learn for years. However, if they don’t actually follow through and take action, nothing happens.
Personal empowerment is the embodiment of awareness, belief in yourself, and follow-through. It’s important because without some degree of personal empowerment, your life will live you. You’ll continue to be a victim of circumstance and you’ll continue to live a life that isn’t really what you want.
You might be wondering if these dimensions of personal empowerment are something that you’re born with or if they need to be learned? Let’s explore that question next.
Can You Develop or Improve Your Personal Empowerment?
Personal empowerment has many dimensions. To be self-empowered, it’s important to be aware of yourself and to know your strengths, weaknesses, and values. You want to know what motivates you as well, and how you work and relate to others.
Beyond that, there are skills that are involved. They include but aren’t limited to goal setting, communication – because you need to be able to ask for what you want – and the ability to learn and adapt.
Follow through, self-motivation, and self-esteem are also essential elements of personal empowerment. Looking at this list of qualities and characteristics, you might wonder if you have to be born with an empowerment personality or whether you can develop it?
You can improve and develop your personal empowerment skills and qualities. Let’s take a look at a few examples and ideas about how you can strengthen your empowerment attitude and approach.
Most people aren’t great at goal setting. However, if you want to change your life, you have to set a goal. Goals that are effective are measurable, attainable, specific and time bound.
For example, I want to save $10,000 by September of this year. Is a specific, time-bound, and measurable goal. Whether it’s attainable depends on your current income and expenses. You can improve your goal-setting skills by practicing. Start setting short-term goals and achieving them.
To be motivated to achieve your goals you not only need to understand your reason why you set the goal, you also want to understand how you’re motivated.
For example, some people are motivated by achievement, others by acknowledgement, and others by money. Improve your motivation skills by understanding what motivates you first. Then apply it to your goal-setting and achievement process.
You have to believe that you can succeed and believe in your strengths. This can take years of practice. Start focusing on what you’re good at. Write it down. Say it aloud to yourself: “I am good at…”.
Pay attention to your beliefs about yourself and the thoughts that you have. Start replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones. Affirmations and spending time doing what you love can help.
Of all the skills to develop, awareness may be the most complicated. Many people spend their lives completely unaware of their motivations, goals, and strengths. It requires looking inside and being willing to be completely honest with yourself.
Next we’ll take a look at why awareness is so important to self-empowerment and what it really means to be aware.
Why Awareness Is the First Step to Empowerment
Who are you and what do you want to achieve? Do you know the answers to these questions? Do you know what your strengths are? How about your weaknesses? Are you conscious about what motivates you and why? Do you know how to set goals that make you excited about achieving them, and do you know what it takes for you to follow through?
All of the above questions are questions that need to be answered in order to become self-empowered. Think about it this way: you can’t really set goals that make you feel excited enough to stick through the difficult times if you don’t know why you’ve chosen that path and why it excites you.
Sometimes people choose goals based on what they think they should want, like money or a business title; however, when they start on the path to achieve that goal, they fail. They fail because the goal wasn’t really the right goal for them. Or they achieve the goal with little satisfaction. They still feel empty. This emptiness may be temporarily filled with distractions but it always comes back.
The solution? Self-knowledge. Empowerment and living a life that you design requires awareness of yourself, also called self-knowledge, to help you set the personal and professional improvement goals that are right for you. When you know who you are, what you’re great at, and how you manage the world, you can create goals and a plan to achieve those goals.
A very simple example of this is fitness. Imagine someone who wants to start exercising. They decide that running is the way they’re going to exercise because when they think about exercise they see someone on a treadmill or running down the road. So they start running and it is hard, and terrible, and they quit.
The truth is that if they’d stopped and become more aware of their motivations (why they want to exercise) and their personality, they may have chosen a different activity. They might have realized that they’re motivated by community so they could have joined a running club and had more fun.
They might also spend time trying different exercises, or look back on their past and remember that they loved riding their bike or playing tennis. Being self-aware helps you set goals that are not only more likely to be successful but that you’re also going to feel passionate about pursuing.
So how do you gain self-knowledge? How do you know what your strengths, personality, and motivations are? There are many ways you can approach this path to self-awareness – and keep in mind that it’s a process. You’re always learning more about who you are and what you want.
The first step is to start asking questions and answering them honestly. Do you like running? Why or why not? What are your strengths? Why do you believe they’re your strengths? What motivates you and why? Personality tests, strength/weakness assessments and journalling are all tools to help you begin to answer these questions.
Take the time to contemplate your choices and start making decisions based on self-knowledge. It’s the first step to empowerment. What’s the second step? We’ll take a look at that next.