Awareness Is Empowerment

Two days ago I picked up a copy of the book everyone’s been recommending for well over a year - The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.  

Now, let’s be clear here - I’m not someone who enjoys thinking about budgets and finances.  In fact, I usually avoid it. But I sat down and read this book cover to cover in one night.  At 2:30am, I shut the back cover with tears in my eyes and thought to myself - that was one hell of a finance book!  

If you’ve read it, you know that it’s no ordinary book about money.  Pape nails one very inspiring, very human concept within his practical financial recommendations.  He gets it so right that it had me both laughing and crying while reading about saving for retirement… and I’m in my early thirties.

The emotional element I took from Barefoot was: once you become aware of your finances (what you make, what you owe, what you contribute to super, what fees your banks charge, what you need to survive in retirement), you are already making a difference to your life. 

Seeing clearly is the beginning of acting differently.

When I completed my first yoga teacher training in 2016, in the first session of the year-long course, my teacher Mark O’Brien said, “Awareness is a Pandora’s box - once you start seeing things about yourself, you can’t un-see them.  It isn’t easy to be so aware all the time.”  

During that year, I opened the box.  I started to see things really clearly. The biggest thing I noticed was the amount of energy people frittered away completely unconsciously, often on things that were not important or actionable. By the end of each day they’d be stressed, exhausted, and had gotten very little done. 

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It was a pandemic of mindless living. 

Once becoming aware of something, we have two choices: to reject what we’ve seen and keep going with the ignorant way of life or to take responsibility for changing our actions or beliefs.  

I knew I had to take action.  

And when I delved into my issues with our mindless, super stressed culture, it led to finding my ikigai (or “reason for being”).  I started to see that my seemingly disparate interests in organisational behaviour, leadership training, career coaching, yoga and meditation were actually quite connected.  They were linked by the desire to bring mindfulness and intention into our adult lives - in and out of the workplace, mind and body.

And the essence of Sankalpa’s ikigai boils down to one phrase: awareness is empowerment.

So if you’re ready to stop leaking your energy and awareness on inconsequential things, it’s time to start taking some ownership!  

Here are some questions that may create awareness around where you are spending your energy:

  • What problem is taking up the most time in your brain right now? (At work, at home, in society)
  • Why is it important to you? (Be specific)
  • Is your mindset about it helpful or creating more stress? (Be honest)
  • Can you change it? (Is it actionable?)
    • If so, are you willing to do something about it?
    • If not, can you channel that energy into something that you can have an impact on instead?  

This kind of thinking is what helps us become really clear about who we are and what we’re willing to let into our spheres.  

Your awareness is your unique worldview - it comes from a blend of your upbringing, experience, skill set, relationships, community, etc.  We sometimes presume everyone cares just as much as we do, but I've found that to be untrue.  It’s something that sets you apart - don’t undervalue it.

Scott Pape’s awareness of spending habits is what led to his book.  (It’s also what led to my fiancé finding a stack of chopped up credit cards yesterday…but that's another story.)

Our awareness is one of the most valuable assets we can develop.  And it’s only getting more important.

So what are you going to do with yours?