Discovering your internal wiring is the first step to determining a direction for your life. Without a clear understanding who you are, you simply can't move forward.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF?
Your internal wiring shows you how you're built, and would be true of you regardless of external influences (where you grew up, life experiences, etc.).
To understand yourself means to understand what is uniquely true about you. As an example of a truth, some people love to come in, close themselves in an office, and just work (code, write, research, etc.), while others want to be engaged relationally with people throughout the day, and for them work is defined by how much they were able to engage with others. You can imagine that if you swapped these two people, one would feel unfulfilled working alone, and the other would feel drained and frustrated by all the interactions they were having. This is a simple example but without knowing that about themselves, these two would not understand why work was so draining or unfulfilling.
The goal is to uncover strong truths, these are things that you have a strong preference for. So if you like to work alone, that doesn't mean that you don't like to ever work in a team or with anyone else, it just means that if you were in a job where working collaboratively was your main focus, you would crave being able to run off into your own space. You want to find strong truths, since those are what will give you the most clarity.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
These strong truths will become the foundations upon which you will begin to build your life. Many people feel stuck because they have been building their lives on other foundations: security, what their parents wanted for them, what they think society wants from them, etc.
When you are stuck and evaluating your options, it's easy to become overwhelmed with the choices of what you could move into. Of all these possible directions or opportunities, how can you know what would be a good fit? The strong truths you've uncovered will act as an objective filter you can run any opportunity through to see how many truths it covers.
Perhaps an opportunity comes up and you're interested, but unsure if it’s a good move for you. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the choice, you're now equipped with a valuable tool that will let you judge the opportunity by comparing it to what you now know to be true about yourself. If it aligns with much of what you know to be true about yourself (collaborative, analytical, in the financial field, etc. for example), then you can feel confidence that it could be a good opportunity.
HOW DO YOU COME TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF?
It’s all about the questions. What comes naturally to you? What do you always find yourself just automatically doing? What makes you come alive? What seems to sap energy from you?
The good news is you have all the answers to these questions, only you can know what brings you joy and what your passions are. The bad news is that you're likely in the worst spot to answer them. It's hard to learn your strong truths because you’re too close to the problem, and you sometimes need help from someone outside looking in to reflect back to you what they see.
Here are two tips to help you start this process on your own:
- Pay attention to your energy throughout the day. When are you energized and feeling alive and when are you feeling like your energy is being sucked from you? When do you find yourself having fun? When are you dreading what's coming next? Your energy levels are your body's way of telling you what it likes and doesn't like. Start to take note of it and write down what you're finding. Keep this up for a few days/weeks and see if you can discover a pattern.
- Ask a friend or family member. Often those around us know and see things that we are totally blind to ourselves. Have an intentional conversation with a friend or family member where the goal is to hear from them about when they've experienced you come alive, what they think you make look easy, and when they see you happiest. This is obviously very biased feedback, but you'd be surprised what kinds of patterns will emerge when you start to intentionally ask these questions.
If you're curious to learn more about yourself and want to develop this list of truths, I work with people helping them do just that. Get in touch with me to setup your free initial conversation to learn more about this process, and how it can bring you clarity that you can leverage for the rest of your life.