There’s an old saying from Shakespeare, “To Thine Own Self Be True.” But what if you’re not clear about who you really are or what you want to do with your life? How do you really get to know yourself? This series of posts will teach you about some great tools for discovering more about who you are.
When you lack clarity about your true self and your purpose, life can take you in all kinds of crazy directions. It’s like racing down a mighty river in a little black inner tube, hoping you don’t crash into the giant rocks. Sure, sometimes it’s a great adventure, but you may also feel helpless and out of control.
Without a Purpose, It’s Easy to Get Lost
Without a purpose, it’s easy to pursue things that you “think you should be doing” or doing the things that other people say you should do. You might still be “successful” or earn a good income, but inside you know there’s something missing. You yearn for more.
Growing up in a very tiny Montana town, I knew I wanted to be a success, and I thought I knew what that meant. The problem was, I didn’t have a clear purpose. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted in life. I thought if I worked hard enough, made enough money, and became an executive in my industry, it would all become clear. I would be happy.
So I worked hard, put in long hours, and became an executive at a large health care company in my early thirties. I was responsible for a major line of business, had a good title and salary, and supervised a team of medical professionals and programs. From the outside, I’m sure it seemed like I had it made. I’d finally reached my goal. So why was I so miserable?
After much deliberation, I decided to leave the security of my executive position and go out on my own. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I was determined to figure it out. I had to find the sense of freedom that was missing for me in the corporate world. I created two successful businesses and learned that I loved helping others find their purpose.
I founded LifeOhm in 2011, knowing that coaching and helping individuals and organizations was what I was meant to do. I love helping people create the lives of their dreams, and ended up writing Design Your Dream Life. Now I’m able to help individuals, as well as health care organizations, create the lives and businesses of their dreams. I finally understand my purpose and I get to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that I needed. Together, we can help you discover your purpose, and find freedom.
Having a Clear Purpose Gives You Comfort and Direction
Having purpose and self awareness gives you comfort and direction, no matter what comes your way. One recent study published in Psychological Science indicates that it may even help you live longer. This study found that purposeful individuals lived longer than their counterparts did. These longevity benefits did not appear to be conditional on the participants’ age, how long they lived during the follow-up period, or whether they had retired from the workforce. In other words, having a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across our adult years.
As I complete my master’s program in Management and Organizational Leadership, I’ve gone through a lot of research. I’ve studied assessments analyzing the traits of great leaders, and how to teach leadership to others.
What I’ve found is that becoming a good leader, even if it’s just leading your own life and family, is all about knowing yourself, being true to your self, and being clear about your purpose. That’s why structured self-assessments can be so helpful.
If you’ve never taken one, or maybe haven’t heard of them, a self-assessment is a series of questions aimed at sort of categorizing your personality or your tendencies or your strengths. These tests usually tell you about some combination of categories that you fall into, because we’re all way more complex than a single category can describe. And even with the multiple-aspect nature of the results, none of the assessments can explain every little detail about the amazing person you are. However, even if it’s just a partial look at your inner self, the assessments can definitely help you see things more objectively.
If you’re open to learning, these assessments can provide insights into your personality traits, motives, drives, and ambitions, as well as your potential limitations. This allows you to maximize your strengths, and overcome your weaknesses. Applying your assessment results can help improve your communications, and can help you discover, or re-confirm, your life’s purpose. I often use assessments with my clients to help provide this insight, and you can find the same benefits yourself.
Finding Clarity and Purpose
No assessment is going to provide you with immediate clarity and sense of purpose. However, they will provide you with lots of “little insights” which will evolve into clarity and understanding. Finding clarity and purpose is an ongoing process. If you’re learning and growing everyday, you will continue to gain insights.
As you can imagine, there is quite a spectrum of assessments out there, ranging from academic and robust, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, to the fun but ultimately pointless. (A certain “What Hogwarts character are you?” quiz on Facebook comes to mind.) Over the next week, I will share three of my favorite structured self assessment tools with you, as well as another one that surprised me and may surprise you too.
The Next Articles in This Series (Assessments):
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you completed self assessments, maybe in school or at work? If so, did they help provide insight into your life purpose? Share which assessment(s) you have taken in the comments below, along with how it did or did not provide clarity.