You need to know yourself a little better.
Who are you when no one sees you? When you have an opportunity to spend time alone, how do you fill that time? Just as importantly, what do you leave out?
When you know yourself well, you can answer these questions easily. When you don’t understand yourself, not only are the questions more difficult, days drift together rather than develop with a sense of organization and purpose.
So how do you know yourself better at any age? Tune in to your core.
Everything that makes you the unique footprint on this earth that is you — your values, your strengths, talents, hobbies and preferences, plus all the trimmings of how you put your world together combined with your life purpose.
Whoa! Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, sure. Humans are astounding, each one of us. But when we focus on living according to our values and organizing our personal world around them, we're able to take control of our life. We can create our own happiness! Here's how:
1. Connect to your core.
When trying to connect to your core, a journal is indispensable. Use it for recording thoughts, dreams, ideas and impressions. In addition, research shows that journaling also benefits your physical well-being by reducing stress and will help you understand yourself better while assisting you in clarifying your thoughts.
2. Reflect in solitude.
It’s necessary to spend time alone to understand yourself. Allow yourself to differentiate your thoughts and feelings from those around you. Whether you create time within your day to be alone, or spend concentrated hours in solitude, the benefits will enhance your relationship with others besides yourself.
3. Know your core values.
Our core values are what we stand for above all else — they’re the dissenting principles over which nations go to war! Get clear on these and you’re able to set up life according to your personal code of beliefs. They serve as a practical tool, too — they can be a handy litmus test to evaluate and make decisions according to your values. (Not sure how to define yours? Barrett Values Centre has a free web-based Personal Values Assessment, with no obligation.)
4. Be accountable.
Take accountability for your life! It’s up to you to use the knowledge and information you have. You already show your strengths, but you may not be shining them as brightly as you could. Your journal is an ideal tool to write lists of what you like to do, what you’re good at, and what people ask you to do. This information will reveal your abilities. Or use this Strengths Study for a free assessment.
5. Figure out what motivates you.
Do you realize what motivates you to get up in the morning, besides a cup of coffee? If you do, you know your life purpose. For help deciphering it, take a look at this video on "Demystifying Life Purpose."
6. Assess your relationships ...
Other people are a large part of our composition. Look around and reflect on what relationships enhance your world. Friends are those who support us as our truest self. The individuals in our life can serve as mirrors reflecting what we need to see. Who is in your world? What are they showing you?
7. ... your life's "trimmings."
I call the personal choices we make that are uniquely ours "trimmings." For example, do you wear full makeup or do you go natural? Is your clothing style glam or minimalist? Are your shoes mostly heels or flats? Do you prefer to walk or drive? And if you drive, what is your favorite car? Would your preferred living spot be by the water or in the mountains?
When you understand yourself, you can structure your life according what works for your needs. Life becomes within your control — with the freedom to accept opportunities to enhance it and decline those that don’t.
There is freedom, immense relief, and genuine happiness resulting from first knowing yourself and then remaining true to your self. Life is full of choices. With self-knowing comes the assurance that you can comfortably engage in any activity you choose to because you possess the confidence you won’t lose a key element of your being.
Shakespeare showed his wisdom when he said “to thine own self, be true.” Knowing yourself is the foundation of creating a world that works for you. Living authentically by being true to yourself is how to ensure that happiness.
Jan L. Bowen is a passionate thought leader who helps clients align their lives so they find more joy and greater connection through understanding themselves and their purpose. Love Jan's writing? Subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive articles, and follow her on her website.