Step Zero is the Awareness

I’ve quoted Merlin Mann’s podcast Back 2 Work here before, about the intersection between so-called ‘life hacking’ and mindfulness.

In a recent episode he kind of touched on this idea again. In talking about list-making to help you get stuff done, he notes that when undertaking any kind of ‘life changing’ series of steps, that the first step is to notice the problems that need fixing. Or as he put it “Step Zero is the Awareness”.

I’ve thought about this before. You can’t change something in your life if you are not aware it is a problem. So even to notice it is a good step. I think this can help when we get down about things which we want to fix – at least you are aware you need to fix it.

If you find yourself being short with people and snapping at the them and you rebuke yourself – at least you are aware you are doing it. What would be much worse would be to go through life without noticing you were doing this. Then you’d just be another rude ignoramus.

Obviously though the next step is to begin to work on how you can prevent yourself from doing this things or to start doing the things you should be doing.

There can be a trap with congratulating yourself too much on being ‘aware’ – you can falsely believe you are doing something by simply repeating to yourself that you need to do something. Similarly you can beat yourself up too bad, and constantly punish yourself for these faults you see.

But still, I think it bares repeating that Step Zero is the Awareness. At this time of year lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions, and I’ve seen a bit of a backlash against it, some fair, some not so fair. But if it takes the somewhat arbitrary changing of the year to make people self-reflect and become aware of their lifestyles and what can be improved – well, that’s Step Zero in my mind.

Or as G.I. Joe used to say – “Knowing is half the battle”.