Know Yourself First
“Who and what we surround ourselves with is who and what we become.” – Karen Marie Moning
In our fast-paced modern world, we sometimes miss how we emulate and conform to the people around us. Our need to belong and desire to fit-in is often quite high.
At work, there may be a way that people talk to each other that we pick up and we may find ourselves conforming to a new set of values. We may zone out on Facebook or Twitter or television filling our minds with the perspectives of others yet not clearly knowing our own stances.
We may have friends that encourage us with unhealthy habits. Before we have realized it, our minds, language, and self-expression have become a reflection of other people’s lives, not our own.
What does it mean to know yourself?
Do you feel like you have enough people in your life who inspire you, believe in you, fill you with positive energy, encourage you to take responsibility, and support you to learn from your life experiences?
When we begin to live our lives with more awareness and choice, we realize that we can also choose the inputs that feed our soul or keep us wandering.
Here are 7 tips to get your started on the journey of knowing yourself:
KNOW YOUR CHARACTER STRUCTURE.
When we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are able to experience ourselves as unique individuals. We are then empowered to make changes and to build on our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make changes that align with our core values.
The VIA Institute on Character offers a free online self- assessment. Their research shows that people who use their character strengths every day are 3x more likely to have an excellent quality of live and 6x more likely to be engaged at work.
Character strengths can be used to address a variety of life challenges and achieve positive personal and professional outcomes. Use your VIA character strengths to help you be happier, manage stress, build relationships, manage problems, boost confidence, and accomplish goals.
KNOW WHAT YOU STAND FOR.
If someone were to ask you “what do you stand for”, what is your answer? While growing up, our choices are limited and influenced by the adults in our lives. These adults project their beliefs and biases onto us and many times we move right into adulthood without questioning or even realizing these projections were purely subjective.
As adults, we can reflect on the beliefs that we took in as children and question whether they are the beliefs we want to live by in our own lives. A way to reflect on our beliefs and create our own personal stands is by writing a Personal Credo.
A Personal Credo is a simple but elegant process. A credo is a sacred and formal essay of the values and beliefs that facilitate your actions in the world. Credo comes from Latin meaning “I believe”. By creating your Personal Credo, you take responsibility for the beliefs you inherited, you examine them to decide which ones fit your life, and which do not. Then you add the beliefs you want to guide your life. Additionally, if you’re also a manager or leader, a Personal Credo increases your credibility.
Click here to download an exercise to create your own Personal Credo.
NOURISH YOUR MIND – LISTEN TO TED TALKS.
Non-profit organizations like TED are about spreading great ideas and making them accessible for free through short inspirational talks by experts.
I recently listened to a TedTalk by Harvard Psychologist Susan David on the psychology of how we can use emotion to bring our best selves forward. For women, we are often critiqued for emotional display, especially at work, yet our emotions are powerful sources of information. I was inspired by this talk that encourages us all to develop a skill called Emotional Agility.
David discuss what it takes internally in the way we work with our thoughts and emotions and stories to thrive in the world. How we respond to these inner experiences informs everything that matters in our lives.
EXPLORE YOUR CREATIVITY.
Do you relegate creativity to the world of the writer, musician, poet, painter, or other professional artist? In case you wonder if you’re creative, there are scientific studies to prove you are.
Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extra-ordinariness of the simplest, most every day acts.
I began focusing on my creative side about three years ago when I wanted to write a business plan for Women Connected. My first attempt was sitting down with the excel files I’d accumulated over the years of working in financial services. It felt like a dead end. I couldn’t get any inspiration from this approach.
I googled for a more a creative approach to business planning and found two great books: Lisa Sonora’s “The Creating Entrepreneur” and Jennifer Lee’s “Right Brain Business Planning”.
These two books not only got me down the path of planning in a way that motivated and inspired, the doors of my right brain flew open as I began working with a visual process of using drawing, imagery, and collaging.
Since then, I have begun exploring Mixed Media Art Journaling and am now even teaching classes on this medium. My dining room has been converted into an art studio and creative expression through writing and visual journaling has become part of my life where I process my feelings, explore undiscovered parts of myself, and walk with others as they do the same.
JOIN OR FORM A MASTERMIND GROUP.
Think back to your study-group days when you and friends would talk about what you were learning and what topics you were struggling with. How much easier it was to pass an exam when you had the support of friends and peers to help you stay focused, work through challenges, and brainstorm ideas.
You can get this today by connecting with like-minded, forward-thinking people on a similar path and organizing coffee dates or lunch dates to bounce ideas off each other.
Google Meet-ups, LinkedIn and Facebook groups offer a wide range of groups of like-minded others. Find a group or two that are exploring the kinds of interests that you enjoy.
Don’t be afraid to seek help or advice. Ask people you admire how they achieved their goals and overcame obstacles. The most successful people have failed and struggled their way to success: Oprah, Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, Sudha Chadran, Anna Wintour, and Serena Williams to name a few.
It takes courage to reach out to people you admire. We often let our self-limiting beliefs get in the way. If you read stories about successful people who failed, you’ll find they had support all around them.
Today you can also reach out to therapists and coaches. Many coaches have groups they run to make the cost of coaching more affordable – and better yet, you get a double bonus by working with a coach and a group of like-minded people.
Who knows, one day you may be the person others seek out for inspiration and advice.
This inside-out approach of knowing yourself first, then surrounding yourself with those who can fan your flame has guided me on the most important journeys of my life. But where o start? When we try to take on too much at one time, we can become overwhelmed and discouraged.
Twelve years ago, in a brand-new year, I decided to begin saying “yes” – it became my year of yes.
I didn’t say yes to just anything though. I was intentional. I wanted to learn about who I was becoming as a mom with adolescent children soon to be empty nested. What was inside me that wanted to be developed and expressed that a little time was opening to allow exploration.
I have had many great adventures in my life. Getting married. Raising sons. A meaningful career. But my third act is turning out to be just as adventurous.
I learned from that “Year of Yes” that when I feel a little lost or don’t know where to start, I look for the “yes”. What can I say “yes” to right now? What’s at my fingertips? Who is the person I can pick up the phone and call? Where is the class that I never seemed to get to? What is the book I’ve been wanting to read but never had the time?
We will never have more time than the present moment. Today is all that’s here. When we realize this, it makes it easier to see what’s right in front of us, waiting to be discovered.
In 2021, we will be introducing the Women Connected Circles Community. This membership program will offer you many ways to get to know yourself and to be in connection with other like-minded women. You can learn more here.