When we talk about improving on our talents and pursuing our goals, there’s a topic I often see overlooked. Awareness. If we don't have it, we won't get far. Awareness is vital to success.
George can be a guy who is ambitious and hardworking, but he won’t reach his goal if he isn’t aware of what he needs to improve on. George can write all day, every day, but if he isn’t aware of what his story is doing (or not doing), he can’t improve on his craft. If Claire puts on her ballet shoes and dances around her house every week, she can’t improve on her technique if she’s not aware of what her weaknesses are.
So, we should strive to be aware. If we’re writing, we should pay attention to what our words, descriptions, dialogue, and punctuation are doing for our reader. Are they doing what we intended? Do we have control over all of these elements? If not, we need to improve on them.
Obviously, we can’t always tell when we aren’t aware of something. But I do believe we can teach ourselves to become more aware. Sometimes we just aren’t aware because we aren’t paying attention or we aren’t used to looking at every aspect of our work. We might have minds that drift, focus in too much, or turn a blind eye to elements we don’t like.
In other scenarios, we can rely on others to critique our work and help us. George’s writing group can mention the weak points in his writing. Claire’s dance teacher can point out her poor posture in plié. This is where the ability to take criticism well becomes really important.
While motivation and effort go a long way, don’t forget to be aware of what you are doing! Strive to be more conscious of whatever you are pursuing. Try to find your blind spots and weaknesses, and improve on them without sabotaging yourself.