I remember when I was furiously googling phrases like, “How do I find myself?” and “What are the steps I need to take for self discovery?”. All the advice I read was empty inspiration that left me feeling less unsure than when I originally clicked.
So in this post, I hope you feel differently than I had!
In this episode of Imperfection with Intention, you’ll learn the 7 steps to self discovery so you don’t have another case of self-identity crisis. I wanted to make sure this was very tangible and actionable for you. I truly believe that if you want something in your life, you’ve got to take real action to make it so.
So after the end of each step to self discovery, you’ll find an ACTION ITEM to help you bring these steps to life.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE
Short on time and want to listen instead? Click the button below!
1) CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
There’s a saying I hear myself often repeating, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” I said it to myself when I wanted to lose weight, when I wanted to start life coaching, or go after any big goal in the vision I had for my life.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
I know I sound a little redundant here. But this idea is important to let sink in if you want to start these steps to self discovery. I bet if you’re reading this, then you feel lost, unsure of what the future looks like (or WHAT you even want it to look like), and you know something in your life is off, but you may not be able to articulate exactly what it is.
I’m here to tell you that it is possible to get over these feelings, and it is possible to start down the steps of self discovery. However, the only way to do that is to be ok with changing up how you’ve always done things.
If you’re looking to re-discover yourself, then you’ve got to do things you’ve never done. You need to see what you do and how you react when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
You’ll never “find yourself” if you stay in the same place you’ve always been. So if you’re ready, here’s your first step.
ACTION ITEM: Let “Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes” become your new mantra for a while. If you want self discovery, this is the real first step.
2) BE AROUND PEOPLE YOU NORMALLY WOULDN’T
Have you ever heard “You’re the combination of the 5 people you’re around the most”? If you haven’t, it’s the idea that your personality and how you act is a combination of the 5 people you come into contact with the most (including people on the internet or tv).
Think about the type of people you come into contact with the most (IRL or on the internet), do you like them? Do you respect them on a personal level? Do you aspire to be like them?
Or there are some equally important things to think about, too. Like, have you been around the same group of people for a while? Are all of your current friend’s people you’ve known and been around forever? Do they all look and act like you?
While diversity is not a new concept when it comes to thinking about the workforce, movie casts, etc, maybe it’s not something you’ve thought about when it comes to your own life.
How diverse are the type of people you come into contact with? Do they have different cultural backgrounds? Different experiences?
I know this step seems more like discovering other people rather than a step to self discovery, but I promise it’s connected.
If you’ve been feeling lost, inauthentic, or any other self-identity crisis emotion, then it’s probably because you’re feeling the effects of trying to fit into a mold that your body/subconscious knows it can’t fit into.
Experiencing life through the lens of other people who aren’t like you is a great way to not only learn more about life and the human experience, but this could also give you ideas on who you’re not.
ACTION ITEM: Reflect on how you currently spend your time and who you spend it with. If you were to guess, who’s 5 personalities are you a combination of? Now go through your week/month and add in the time you can spend with different groups of people. Not sure how to hang out with people who are different than you? Look at apps like EventBrite or Meetup!
3) IF YOU FIND SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE – DON’T DISCOUNT IT
While we’re on the subject of finding stuff you don’t like, let’s chat about that! Finding out who you’re NOT is just as important as finding out who you are.
While it’s tempting to get frustrated in a self-discovery search when we find things we don’t like or decide that something isn’t for us. But it’s all in the way you decide to look at this.
You can either decide to look at something like this as a bad thing and a waste of time. OR you can choose to look at this as a good thing and be grateful for it.
Let’s say you decide to spend time with a group of people who are different than anyone you’ve ever spent time with. We’ll use the example of a book club, and you’ve never really spent time with avid book readers.
But you go to a few meetings and you decide it’s not for you. The book club people aren’t really your cup of tea.
You can either decide this experience was a bad thing and that you wasted your time. Or you can decide to be grateful and look at it as a good thing; at least now you know for sure you’re not a book club fan.
You’ve always got a choice when it comes to how you feel, my friend.
ACTION ITEM: If you’ve attempted to try new things, and you’ve found you weren’t into it, journal what you did and why you didn’t like it. You may find that journaling about your experiences will lead you to revelations you weren’t expecting!
4) SPEND TIME AWAY FROM YOUR PHONE (AND OTHER TECH)
Millennials are defined as “those who came of age in the information age,” so it’s no secret that technology has been a massive part of our experience since we were young. While you remember what it’s like not having a smartphone, it’s probably hard to think of a time since you’ve become an adult that the internet wasn’t instantly available.
Even though we’re connected to other people more than ever before, it’s become harder to get in touch with ourselves.
I’m a big believer in limiting time with technology in my routine and having the time and space to get bored. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am doing nothing at all. — not on my phone, watching t.v. , or literally anything at all.
When I start to fidget and get the itch to reach for my phone because I’m so bored, that’s when I have my best ideas or biggest revelations.
So, if you’re a millennial, and you can’t remember a time when you’ve gone without your phone for more than an hour, then try this one out. It may take a few times, but I promise you’ll learn some interesting things about yourself if you sit with nothing to distract you and just listen to your body.
ACTION ITEM: Schedule at least 15 minutes a day or 30 minutes every other day to do nothing. Not “do nothing” like, “I’m going to chill and watch Netflix and scroll on IG,” I mean literally NOTHING.
It will be boring and uncomfortable. But, if you do it enough, you’ll learn invaluable things about yourself.
5) FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING
You’ve probably noticed the theme of this episode is changing up what you’ve been doing most of your life and spending time by yourself. There’s a reason for it!
The urge to want to fit in and be like others runs deep in our DNA. Listen to any psychologist talk about ideas like we humans want to be accepted, examples of tribes throughout history, etc. It’s hard to think about human existence without thinking about how we fit into it.
But with over 7 billion people on this planet, the idea of thinking about how you fit in (OR stand out) in a crowd seems totally overwhelming. It’s easy to let people around us (or the people that we see on our screens) influence our lives and decisions.
So thinking about who you are when no one else is looking is one of the most critical steps to self-discovery.
ACTION STEP: Grab a journal and a pen. Think about a time when you felt inauthentic. What were you doing? Who were you around? What about what you said or did was inauthentic to you? Would you have done the same thing if you were by yourself? Journal thoughts and DON’T edit yourself. Don’t try to make yourself sound more heroic than you were. The only way to get clarity is to be totally honest.
6) DEFINE YOUR CORE VALUES
It wasn’t until I discovered what core values that I felt confident of who I was (in ANY situation, life could throw my way).
For a long time, I defined myself by my job title, my relationship status, or any other qualifier that described who I was to other people. I didn’t realize it then, but when I did this, it was like I was leaving my identity to be defined by anyone other than me.
So, if you recognize yourself in that part of my story, just know you’re not alone. Lots of people go through that. I’ve been thought that, and many of my coaching clients do as well.
ACTION ITEM: Define your core values. What do you find valuable? What personality traits define you? Like, are you compassionate? Loving? Giving? Do you value justice? Or equality? The possibilities here are endless!
Psst… if you want some extra help defining your core values, then make sure to snag this free core values journal to help you with just that.
7) ANSWER “WHO AM I?” WITHOUT LISTING WHO YOU ARE TO OTHER PEOPLE
This the hardest out of all the steps to self discovery I’m talking about here. But I’m telling you, though, once you go through it, I doubt you’ll struggle with self-identity, again.
Remember the part about how I didn’t know how to define myself, so I used my job title, relationship status, etc to describe who I was?
Well, when I started to realize that thinking about who I was internally and not who I am in relation to other people, that’s when the real light bulbs happened for me.
Basically, I don’t need other people to know who I am. It feels damn good to know that.
If you’re not sure how to answer this, let’s dig deeper.
Does this sound familiar?
“I’m an event manager, a wife, and a Christian.” Or some similar variation of this?
If this is how you would normally answer “Who am I?” No shame in your game, girl! Don’t discount these parts of your life. These are all essential things that you DO that make up your life.
But what about who you ARE? What about who you are just on the inside? Without thinking about your relationship with your family, work, or community?
If you’re still having difficulty answering, then spend more time on the previous steps to self-discovery listed.
Don’t feel pressured to put a time limit on yourself for self discovery. These things come with time. I promise, if you go at these steps with an open mind and heart, you’re bound to learn about yourself.
ACTION ITEM: Once you’ve gone through all the other steps to self discovery in earnest, answer the question “Who am I?” without adding in titles, etc.
If you need some 1-on-1 help with this, let me know! You can schedule a free discovery call with me to see if some extra support will help you!
WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE ON THE ROAD TO SELF-DISCOVERY?
Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram (I’m @MonicaChats).
If you’re working on finding your purpose, fulfilling work, and passion, then make sure to download my free 5 Step Guide to Figure Out Your Passion and Find Fulfilling Work! This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to not only figure out what it is you want but also your first step to get there. Grab your copy below for that and other tips and inspiration from me I only share with my email community!