Why ‘know thyself’ should be your 2020 mantra

by Mar 16, 2020

Classes are starting back, grad roles are recruiting, and the stressors of a new year are fully kicking in. So now is basically the perfect time to enact a new mantra to see you reaching for success this year: know thyself.

We’ve been down this road before – self-awareness is a skill that will see you through many of the more difficult choices you’ll have to make throughout your working life (and even now, while you’re still studying). It’s more than just know your favourite brand of tea, or your preferred song on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of the Decade. It’s knowing how to sort through your priorities and make decisions that will help ensure your professional and personal wellbeing.

So here are a few tips on how to incorporate the ‘know thyself’ mantra into your life this year.

P’s get you more than degrees

The P’s you need to confirm within yourself are the practicalities and philosophies that you value. Day-to-day, how do you want to (or can you) work? Do you want to work with a team? Do you want to work on a computer all day, or would you prefer to move in and out of an office? Are flexible working arrangements important? Do you want to work for a NGO? Do you want your work to directly help people? Or perhaps you’d prefer to help a company grow? What is it you want to get out of your work? What are you passionate about?

Being able to answer these questions (and recognise what other considerations may affect your happiness) can be a great help when it comes to your career journey.

Knowing these answers can help you narrow down your job search to companies and roles that fit within your parameters. It can also help you make career decisions (eg. what professional development you should undertake, which opportunity to follow, whether to pitch a project, etc.).

It can also assist in your career planning. If you know that flexible working arrangements or part-time work is important to you and what you value, then you can factor that in and try to plan a transition away from full-time work or to a more flexible sector. Or if you know that you really thrive when helping people face-to-face, you can plan out how you’d like to incorporate that more into your current role, undertake training to improve your interpersonal skills, or start working towards a new role that lets you work with people more.

Know your soft from your technical

Soft and technical skills describe the professional abilities we all develop throughout our working lives.

Soft skills are developed regardless of what industry or work you do, and can be built outside of the workplace. These include skills in time management, organisation, teamwork, interpersonal communication, problem solving, leadership, and prioritisation (to name a few).

Technical skills are more specific to your industry. These are usually the skills you build at university and on the job. For example, if you are a data manager you may have technical skills in Excel, SQL, Business Objects, and data visualisation.

By having a firm understanding of the skills you’ve built over time, it can help broaden the range of opportunities you can apply for (as many skills are transferable between industries, if you’re looking to switch).

If you’re proactive and keep a working document where you list your skills and dot point examples of how you’ve utilised them then updating your CV will be a breeze, interview prep will be that much easier, and you’ll have almost everything you need to craft a great LinkedIn profile.

Reminding yourself of these skills as you develop them can also help build your confidence when imposter syndrome kicks in and makes you feel inadequate. You can remember that, no, you are totally qualified to be where you are and have a readymade list of reasons why.

Put yourself out there

Knowing how you work with others and the situations you thrive in is an important element to making bigger career decisions later on. It can also help you develop the skills you need later on in your career.

Getting experience in new environments both in your personal and work life can really help inform these decisions. Volunteering, interning or working in different environments and sectors while you study can help you decide what area of your industry you’d like to work in, what electives to take while studying, or what skills you still need to develop.

Joining a UTS club or society, picking up extracurricular activities, or taking part in programs like the Accomplish Award are also great ways to both build your skills and help you better understanding where you’re at in your career journey.

(If you are interested in taking part in the Accomplish Award 2020, the application deadline has been extended to Sunday 22 March 2020 (11:59pm AEST). The program not only connects you with employers, but also helps you articulate your skills, work towards your professional development, and gain confidence in the recruitment process.)


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.