What is Self Discovery and Why it Matters?
How well do you know yourself?
How well do you know yourself? Have you spent much time asking yourself that question? Some people are naturally inclined toward seeking a better understanding of themselves and their greater purpose in life, and some less so.
What does it mean to really know yourself? It might seem like a silly question, but it is extremely important when it comes to finding your most satisfying career path. Getting a job is one thing. Getting a job will pay your bills, put food on the table, and possibly give you all the satisfaction you need.
Finding an inspiring and invigorating life purpose, however, is something entirely different. They say that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. What does that even mean? It means that that when you find the thing that really lights you up, work is more like play, more like a hobby that makes you money…and as you develop your craft, the money flows along with the fun.
Thinking About Self Discovery
So, how do you come to know yourself well enough to find that passion? Again, everyone is different. Some people are so driven by their interests that they simply cannot deny their natural path, despite any obstacles…and there will be obstacles. Some people are encouraged from a young age to pursue their passions and their interests. Some people have vast resources that allow them to study the topics of their choosing.
However, even with resources, not everyone knows what direction to take.
There are several areas to explore when getting to know your true self better. There are many facets of our personalities that affect who we are as individuals. And make no mistake, you are 100% individual. There are no two people with exactly the same goals, experiences, outlooks, worldviews, and self-concepts. There is a particular place for you in this world.
Steps to Take to Discover Yourself
There are many options, yes, but there is one path that you will follow, even if that path takes many turns. And nobody can take that path but you. Self-discovery is one tool that you can carry along your path that will assist you in making decisions and assessing what is right for you. Every decision you make leads you to another experience and knowing yourself well will help you navigate to the experiences you wish to have in your lifetime.
So, what areas of your Self should you explore?
- Life experience
- Perception of options
- Social self-concept
- Current situation
Some of these seem obvious, others are a bit more obscure. So, let’s unpack a few of these to get a better understanding of what we mean.
Interests usually seem pretty apparent but not always. For instance, you may have all kinds of things you think would be interesting to pursue and your surface interests may be vast. But what do you actually think about in your spare time? What actually holds a place in your mind, whether you share that thing with anyone or not. Exploring the deeper recesses of our hidden interests can be very telling. Perhaps not in terms of following those interests exactly but in terms of how you think. Considering how you think can contribute greatly to achieving career satisfaction.
For example, you may have a deep interest in Astrology. You educate yourself about it on your free time. You watch and listen to astrologers online, you like to look into other people’s astrological signs to see if you can gain insight into their personality. You may not consider this a viable career path for yourself but knowing why you enjoy the topic can give you insights as to what attracts you to certain subjects. If you discover that the reason you enjoy astrology is because you enjoy understanding how people tick, perhaps your area of career interest will involve elements of psychology and helping people. If you find that the reason you enjoy the subject of astrology is because of the science behind planetary revolutions, perhaps your area of interest leans more in the direction of astronomy, physics, or even mechanics.
Values are the things that matter most to you in life, in your relationships and in your place of work. Have you asked yourself what really matters to you in terms of job satisfaction? Job satisfaction does not just mean the work you do but the people you are surrounded by at work, the environment you’re in, the noise levels, the leadership style. Does it matter to you that you are in a quiet environment or do you prefer a lot of activity? Do you prefer intensive direction, or would you rather know that tasks that need to be done but have the freedom to figure out the best way for you to do them? Do you like to see the results of your work at the end of everyday or do prefer longer projects that require a longer vision? Do you prefer to sit or stand, talk or work silently, use your intellect or your hands or both, work in groups or alone?
There are a lot of factors that go into how you value your work time and they cannot be discounted as irrelevant. In fact, they are some of the most important pieces because they will be your day-to-day reality.
Skills are the things you already know how to do. What have you already learned in your life that you want to take forward into your career future? It is just as important to know what you’re not good at as it is to know what you are good at. It’s also important to know what skills you have that you’d actually prefer not to use, or how you’d like to use them in different ways than you have in the past. We’ve all had jobs where we learned useful skills but didn’t love the job itself. How could you perhaps put those skills to use elsewhere?
Can you even identify your skills? There are things you probably do on a daily basis that you think are inconsequential and unimportant but that you could actually list as a skill that will help you navigate your way to your ideal type of work. It could have to do with how you treat people, or the photography composition skills you display on Instagram. Things that you do naturally that you might not expect to be of value.
Check out the Career Aptitude Quiz
Life Experience can play a major role in what you feel you should do for a living. Tied in with this area of exploration are: Self-Image, Self-Talk and Social Self-Concept. Do you believe that your dreams are achievable? If so, awesome. But should you stop there? Are you allowing yourself to dream big? Are you allowing yourself to dare to dream past what you’ve been told you’re capable of?
If you don’t believe your dreams are achievable, why not? Did someone tell you you’re not good at something you love? Has nobody else you know ever achieved their dreams and so you don’t believe you’re meant to either? Do you feel that pursuing your dream is impractical and that you won’t be able to succeed?
These are areas that are good to explore with a counsellor, someone who is trained to guide you through your thoughts to help you learn how to retrain yourself to speak to yourself positively and with encouragement, rather than doubt, shame and fear.
Your Current Situation
Your Current Situation can also play tricks on your self-perception. Perhaps you feel stuck in a situation that is unsatisfying to you and you don’t believe there is a way to get out of it. It could have to do with a personal relationship, housing, or a job that you feel offers no opportunity for growth.
It’s easy to get caught up in where we are. It’s easy, in fact, to lose ourselves in the process of getting through our day-to-day lives. Perhaps you know you want more out of life and out of your work but those dreams get pushed aside each and every day in favour of facing the reality of bills, grocery shopping, making meals, getting kids where they need to go, relationship issues, and other daily stressors.
So…how well do you know yourself? Did you realize it was such a complex question? It is definitely bigger than it may seem, but digging into it is an important piece of the career puzzle and will help you throughout your career journey.