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375806_401677079898543_1664547291_nOne of the things that have been challenging for me over the years is discovering myself; who I am , what I am meant to be, what my life purpose is and how to accomplish it. Often times I’ve heard from influential people around me, be it at school, at work, at church or at home, that I need to live a life of purpose. But I’ve always been left wondering, ‘so what is this purpose that everyone expects me to fulfill, how do I discover it and how do I accomplish it?’ I must admit that to this day, I have not gotten a grasp of this supposedly purpose  and I am still searching.

In my quest for this purpose though, I have come to learn some valuable lessons; one has been the realization that self-awareness or discovery is the beginning of this life long quest I am on. Self-awareness is ‘having a clear perception of one’s own personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions’. When we take time to focus on ourselves, we are able to compare our current behavior to our internal values and standards. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves. It is unfortunate that many of us (including myself) have low levels of self-awareness and yet it is essential to improve our judgment in discovering our life purpose. How can I discover my purpose if I do not know who I am, what excites me or frustrates me and why, what moves me, what I value, what my beliefs are and why, what I’m good at or goof at?

With our busy schedules and lives filled with so much activity, it’s not easy to find time to think about who we are, our strengths, weaknesses, values, what drives us, our personalities, etc. Consequently, we find ourselves disgruntled by the way our lives; our relationships, our careers, our own commitment and discipline to accomplish personal goals  turn out. It’s taken me a long time, a lot of discipline and patience with myself to try out what I’m about to share with you, and to my surprise so far, I have been rewarded greatly. I hope that by sharing this, you can embark on your own journey of self-discovery and hopefully it will lead you to finding your life’s purpose. And even if it doesn’t, increasing your self-awareness will make you a much better person.

Being Open to Feedback: Receiving feedback (constructive feedback) has been one of the most effective ways that have helped me know myself better, work on improving myself and also get to know others and improve my interactions with them. Being open to feedback is when you are willing to listen and be receptive to how others perceive you. You may or may not agree with what others tell you, but it is always important to be open to receive the feedback, reflect on it and see how you can utilize it for personal growth. Feedback can be positive or negative; one key thing I’ve learnt is to never take either personally. Rather take it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Learning from my experiences: Our day to day experiences are a rich source for continuous learning. It however requires the discipline to engage oneself in reflection again and again. Reflection raises one’s level of consciousness, instead of going through life like a robot, unaware of what is going on internally and understanding the external influences. It has taken me a lot of reflection to even be able to accept the different emotions I feel and to even go further to find out the causes of those emotions (whether pleasant or not). Whenever possible I ask myself, what happened in such and such a situation? Why do I think things happened that way? What went well and what could I have done differently in order to achieve better results? In this way, I am able to better understand why certain things happened and what I could possibly do differently if I want a different result. Einstein once said, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’. Reflecting on my behavior and experiences helps me realize that if I want a different or better result tomorrow, I shouldn’t do things the exact same way as I did today.

Taking a Personality Test: This test can be done by professionals (coaches, therapists, etc)  or can be taken personally. There are many tools online that are freely available for one to take a personality test. This is a test that helps you get a snapshot of your own personality. It helps you understand yourself better. Although this is the case, you are the best judge of your own personality. However, many of us are not even aware of our own personality, so this test is a good starting point for us to know and understand ourselves better. Here are some of the websites where you can take such a test as you embark on this journey of self-discovery:

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/personality/

http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

http://www.learnmyself.com/

Taking Responsibility of my Emotions and Actions: This is a whole topic on its own and so I will reserve it for another time. Just one painful lesson I’ve come to embrace over time:no one is in charge of the way I feel or respond to situations, therefore I should quit wasting time blaming others or circumstances for the way I feel or react. I am the sole owner and decider of how I feel, respond or react to things or people.

So dear friends, no one will come to you and tell you what your life purpose is. It is your responsibility to figure it out, and the best place to start is, start with yourself; get in-touch with your inner self, know who you are and then proceed from there. You will be amazed at what you will discover about yourself.

How helpful have you found this post? What are some of the things you do or have done to enhance your self-awareness? I would like to hear from you; your impression about the post and your own experiences in this journey of self-discovery.

In my next article I will be talking about One reason you are not as self-aware as you think you are

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