Explore, Embody, and Achieve Your True Self this New Year
Every new year comes with internal pressure to become a happier, healthier, and more productive version of ourselves. An internal dialog starts towards the end of the year as you wonder about what could have been - if you had stuck to that diet, if you have worked out more, if you had the courage to chase an opportunity.
You start to think about how this next year, yes, this next year, is the year you are going to change yourself for the better. While striving for constant improvement 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 explore, embody and achieve your true self.
Step 1 - Explore
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 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 with a friend, family member, or counselor.
Step 2 – Embody
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 – Achieve
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) predicts satisfaction and persistence within that path. Knowing your true self will point you in the right direction toward the people, careers, 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.