Three Routes to Self Discovery. [Personal & Professional Application]

know yourself

Since the ancient times (at least since Upanishads, Luxor Temple, Temple of Apollo at Delphi)  to the present day career advisors, we are urged to know ourselves.

Why is it important? Lack of knowledge about who we are, what we are able to do, what we need, what’s our mission, what are our values – can only lead to disaster, unhappiness, jobs we hate, or life without meaning and purpose.

In my life, I have learned the biggest lessons about myself when I went thru something new and very challenging. Learning about my weaknesses was as surprising and valuable as learning about my strengths. No amount of hypothetical Q & A will ever help us to find out who we are.  If the difficult situations don’t happen often, what else can we do?

Below are three ways you can utilize to learn about yourself.

One is about insight, second is about how you relate with the world, the third lets  you  play (be honest) and read a fascinating report about your … fascinating self. What methods have you used so far to learn about yourself? What worked? What was most fun? What was most profound?

A. Meditation.

The best for self observation may be Vipassana; in other words “to see things as they really are”. 

To practice insight meditation you need absolutely nothing. It costs nothing. No music, no guiding meditation recordings. No special accessories. No VIP membership.

All you need is: to sit down, focus on your breath. Slow it down. You will become aware of thoughts, feelings, judgements, sensations coming to your mind. The key is to let them pass thru your mind without holding on to them. It’s difficult…  It’s easy… It can be painful… It will be liberating. You’re watching your mind as you watch the ever-changing sky. What will follow is an increased self awareness, peace, discipline, sharp mind.

If you are new to meditation and you go for it- your life will never be the same. If you want to have the results yesterday …  The beauty of meditation is that it works in a subtle way, offering you the results in unexpected moments, in unexpected ways.

Side effects: At some point you will become aware of a deep sense of inner peace. You may also realize that it is not other people, but you – who is in control of how much peace you experience every day. If you are really brave you may search where Vipassana is offered near you (retreats are on a donation only basis). Tip: sign up early; long wait lists.

B. Feedback Analysis.

This method will help you answer the following questions:

  • what are my strengths
  • what are my weaknesses
  • how do I work
  • how do I learn
  • what are my values
  • where do I belong
  • what can I contribute

For example: You discover your strengths by comparing your expectations with the results. Since memory is likely to fail you, when you have something important to do, or a decision to make, write down what do you think will happen, what do you belief about it right now, what do you think is the right thing to do. Several months later compare your results with expectations.

Within 2-3 years you will have an excellent knowledge of yourself.

In personal life, writing a journal AND reading it some time later, can help us to break out of repeating cycles of making the same mistake.

Feedback analysis may sound like a lot of …  analytical work, but there is also room for creativity – when you create a vision for yourself, measure yourself against that picture, ask what can you do or not do to align yourself with the vision.

The method was invented approximately 600 years ago.  There is an excellent article written by Professor Peter F. Drucker:  “Managing Oneself”, Best of Harvard Business Review 1999, that you need to read. About 10 pages. Professor Drucker addresses important point there: “Do not try to change yourself  – you are unlikely to succeed. Work to improve the way you perform.”

C. Personality Tests.

Have you noticed how many personality tests just leave you hanging with a question “ok… sooo I’m XYZABC.. now what?”, and the feeling of disappointment is creeping in…

That’s NOT the case with “How To Fascinate” system. This will be the most exciting personality test you will ever take.

There are 49 possible personality types in the Fascinate system. When you take the test you will receive a 15 page interactive report, loaded with practical information you can start using immediately. How does the world see you? How are you different and better. When do you operate at your peak performance, effortlessly? What are your possible pitfalls, that could hinder your progress and success? What to watch out for? In what area do you need to put more effort?

The information also helped me to act with more courage in transitioning from one business to a completely different one, while using the same qualities of character I thought before I shouldn’t.

*** I would love to hear from you:  Do you have a favorite method of learning about yourself? Do you try to “find yourself” only in times of identity crisis, when you feel lost, or are you aware of yourself and how you change/ learn most of the time? Please share in the comments! 

  • I’d really like to learn meditation. I just don’t know how.

  • A no nonsense (and no dogma) meditation guide will be soon published here.

  • Diane Fales says:

    Hi Joanna
    I think you did a great job breaking down ways to find yourself. A nice in depth article. I have to have a crisis sometimes to force change. It’s very exciting but not as consistent as I would like. How do you suggest I be more consistent with my self work? Thanks! Diane

    • Diane, what do you think about daily meditation and journaling? Would it be something you could do consistently with pleasure? Meditation can be as simple as being still, wherever you are, not engaging in any mind activity, just observing.. being mindful of the moment… Journaling – could be julia cameron’s “morning pages” style, or just observations.. Since you meditated before, you know it’s good to keep your journal close while you are still.

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