With every new year comes an internal pressure to become a happier, healthier, more productive version of ourselves. An alarm goes off in our mind that screams THIS IS IT – this is the year I am going to change myself for the better. While making positive lifestyle changes is never a bad idea, I invite you to take a new approach to your resolutions this year. Rather than making a sweeping declaration to reinvent yourself, I encourage you to discover, embrace, and fulfill your true self.
Step 1 – Discover
We take on a number of different identities in our daily lives. Maybe you work as a teacher but also identify as a mother, sports fan, and self-proclaimed chef. So how do you consolidate all of your identities into one comprehensive self? A good place to start is reflecting on personal characteristics that tend to stay relatively stable across time and situations – for example,
interests and personality.
- Interests represent our preferences for certain types of activities, therefore they reflect how we like to spend our time. In all of your many roles, tapping into your interests provides you with the motivation and energy you need to optimize success.
- Personality is representative of our typical patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Discovering your personality on a deeper level can help you better understand how you tend to behave in social situations, react to different environments, and feel about trying new things (to name a few possible insights).
Best practices for uncovering these insights about your true self require some self-exploration. Try reflecting on your experiences through journaling, taking an online assessment, or even discussing your thoughts to a friend, family member, or counselor.
Step 2 – Embrace
There are no good or bad discoveries to be made in your self-exploration journey. All behavioral and mental tendencies can be seen as strengths as well as challenges, depending on the situation. The power of self-understanding does not come from labeling yourself as a certain “type” of person but comes from an awareness of your personal attributes that make you unique. Embrace your gifts and nurture them to help you reach your highest potential.
Step 3 – Fulfill
Don’t stop now – use your newly discovered self-understanding to guide you towards a more fulfilling life. Research shows that congruence between personal attributes and life pathways (both in education and employment) predict satisfaction and persistence within that path. Knowing your true self will point you in the right direction towards the people, career, and activities that will bring you a greater sense of joy, purpose, and meaning!
 e.g., Hansen, J. C. (2013). A person-environment fit approach to cultivating meaning. In B. Dik, Z. Byrne, & M. Steger (Eds.), Purpose and meaning in the workplace (pp. 37-56). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.