– Ancient Greek Aphorism
There is common thread among many of history’s great philosophers and masters. Socrates said it most succinctly in his guiding principle, “Know thyself.”
The Tao Te Ching stated, “Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom.”
And in Hamlet, William Shakespeare wrote, “This above all, to thyne own self be true.”
Most successful people had known what they wanted to become from a very young age. They discovered what they’re good at early in their lives and devoted their life to that one thing with all their passion and focus. You do not get to know yourself simply by growing up and growing old. Knowing yourself is a conscious effort; you do it with intention and purpose.
All of us aren’t lucky enough to figure this out in our childhood, but it is never too late. We get consumed by “BRULES”, as Vishen Lakhiani calls them in his book, THE CODE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MIND. (If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend checking it out).
BRULES=BULL SHIT RULES
“As we grow up, we take on beliefs from teachers, our parents, the media and society around us. Some of these serve us. Some of these are not really true. Yet we cling stubbornly to our beliefs — true or untrue. The problem is, what you believe to be true – will tend to be true. So are your beliefs really supporting you? Or holding you back?”-Vishen Lakhiani
These brules stop us from exploring who we really are. From what subjects we learn in university, the clothes we wear, the jobs we take, to choosing our significant others; are all influenced by “brules” we have been raised with.
AND soon, we find ourselves lacking something in our lives, we feel something is missing, we wake up with this emptiness. That’s because we have strayed away from WHO WE REALLY ARE AND WHO WE WANT TO BE.
But once you get to KNOW YOURSELF, each decision seems easy…
Each business idea seems fun and exciting
School suddenly became exciting
I found myself being happier even without having life all figured out
I have more self control
I am able to resist social pressure
What I do brings me vitality & pleasure
I am still discovering who I am and I learn something about myself each day. I don’t think that process really ever stops once you begin.
Below are some steps that I took and questions I asked myself that helped begin my journey towards self discovery and I hope it helps those who are trying to create their dream life!
1.PEOPLE & ACTIVITIES YOU LIKE
Who are your role models? If you don’t have any, try and find some. Look on social media, linked in, blogs, famous entrepreneurs. Anyone you can find that when you look at them you say “That’s the kind of life I want to live and that’s the kind of person I want to be.”
For example, for me: I really admire a couple on Instagram (Mimi and Alex Ikonn). They are the creators of Luxy Hair, 5 Minute Journal and the Productivity Planner. What I love about them is the lifestyle they have created for themselves. They run the businesses from Toronto but they live in London, England and have their office there as well for themselves. They are constantly travelling, meeting like minded individuals, have their own Youtube channel where they inspire others and more importantly I admire the relationship they have with each other.
What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with? Look at the top 5 people you surround yourself with most. Do they inspire you? Do they share a similar mindset? If not, go out there and connect with those people.
Some ideas: look at meetups, conferences, any place where you think the type of people you want to meet hang out.
What kind of activities do you like doing? Are there activities in your childhood that you enjoyed but stopped doing? What are your hobbies & interests?
For Example: In my childhood, I enjoyed swimming, badminton, tennis, dancing and painting but stopped doing those because I got caught up with society pressures on getting to a good university, focussing on interests that would help me in the future ( again for a job). But now, I started learning those things again. I go to the community centre to swim and play badminton, I started taking dance classes and I realized how much I missed those activities and they truly bring me joy.
2.WHAT DO YOU VALUE?
Identify your top 5 values in life. This will help you make better decisions. Whenever you make any decision: job you accept, business you want to start, a place where you choose to travel, courses you sign up, where you live, what type of car you buy; all those have to align with your values in life. Do your decisions align with your values?
My top 5 values:
My blog, my business, my travel experiences are all a product of my 5 top values.
3. YOUR TALENTS & SUBJECTS OF INTERESTS
- Did you study what you studied because you were passionate about it or because it was the safe thing to do? (I studied business because it was the safe thing to do. If I could go back, I would love to take International Studies)
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? (This is a tough one and one that I am still trying to figure out)
- Besides what you studied, what are some other subjects or fields that interest you?
LEARN TO DEVELOP YOUR SKILL SETS
I want to be fluent in Spanish, learn about online marketing, photoshop & graphic design, social entrepreneurship, interior design, photography. I went back to school and taking continuing education classes in Interior Design. I am reaching out to people who have started their own social enterprise and learning from them. I took classes to learn photoshop and signed up for Lynda.com (check it out, it is a great tool for online learning).
4. PRACTICE SELF REFLECTION DAILY
A great daily practice that we should add to our night routines, is a self reflecting of your day. What went well, what would you change, how did you feel in certain situations, how could you have handled an event differently?
Something that I really enjoy if things don’t go as planned is give myself PEP TALKS. Encourage and motivate myself to keep going and keep fighting for what I want. When things are moving slow in business, in goals that I want to achieve, I keep giving myself PEP TALKS and reminding myself WHY I AM STRIVING FOR THOSE GOALS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The life of Benjamin Franklin is great example of how leading yourself first helps you contribute to the lives of others. Below, you will find his daily schedule and he always ends his day by asking himself, “What good have I done today?” Read his autobiography for a list of his 13 virtues he practiced daily.
5. ALWAYS BE IN “SEARCH MODE”
A much more fun way to get to know yourself is testing and trying different things in life. You may assume what you like and dislike in life but you don’t really know until you try it.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Try something new that you have never tried before.
6. YOUR ENVIRONMENT
What is your current environment like at home or at work? Does it inspire you or motivate you? Do you feel happy being there or does it drain your energy? If it is the latter, find ways to change that.
I am not 100% happy with my environment and this is the one thing that is taking time to change. But, I am actively taking steps daily to try to find ways to change that. I work at coffee shops, library, my room, a quiet house. I am constantly changing things around work to emulate the kind of work environment I want to be in. I have vision board with the kind of office space I would want one day.
Whether you like it or not, parts of your personality are not chosen by you but are rather inherited and imparted. Understanding your roots, history and your parents can help you a lot in understanding yourself and becoming closer to your real self. Not only your parents, but your friends will also have that affect.
Analyzing these factors can really help you understand who you really are, what are your inherited positive and negative behavioral patterns, what kind of stuff was imposed on you, how you are similar or different from your parents, what they did right and wrong when raising you and so on.
Look back and see whether they have influenced your decision making.
8. START LISTENING TO YOU GUT
The first problem is that you already somehow lose touch with yourself through socialization.
The second problem is that there is too much noise out there because of all the interactive devices, social settings, chores, tasks and other activities. Rather than listening to ourselves and our true desires, we tend to behave according to the society’s expectations.
Start listening to that inner voice and get more in tune with your intuition.
MEDITATION is a method that helped me do that. It helps you pick up signs in your body that you would miss. You get a better understanding for situations/things/people that “feel right” vs “feel wrong”. Just 5-10 MINUTES of meditation a day can do wonders. Try out the app HEADSPACE to help you get started with that practice.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Leave a comment below or subscribe to my newsletter–> Ask me a question in the box–> (to the right)
I would love to hear from you and what topics you want to write about next:)