There's a word I love. Metacognition. At first blush it appears to be one of those edu-speak words. In others words . . . jargon. But I've come to attribute metacognition to much I consider to be successful in my life. To describe this marvel further, it has sometimes been explained as 'thinking about your thinking'; how you learn and process information.
It is necessary to consider person variables and task variables. Knowledge of person variables refers to general knowledge about how human beings learn and process information. For example, you may be aware that your study session will be more productive if you work in the quiet library rather than at home where there are many distractions. You may have come to realize that you are more productive in the mornings than evenings. Knowledge of task variables include knowledge about the nature of the task as well as the type of processing demands that it will place upon the individual. For example, you may be aware that it will take more time for you to read and comprehend a science text than it would for you to read and comprehend a novel.
Many aspects of life and work involve problem solving. What are the steps involved? You have to generate possible solutions, one after the other. You have to weigh the options, explore sub-sets of those options. You need to step back and--this part can be difficult--appraise the likely success of those options. This can mean giving up a pet theory or potentially offending someone if this is a group project.
In your life, metacognition veers into being alert and aware of people, projects and challenges that generate a positive or negative reaction. Metacognition in this situation could involve making changes in your life; This can be difficult but necessary and ultimately rewarding Here's where I get to quote Shakespeare again: