“Who Am I Really?” – Revisiting Our True Self

It’s the second day of a brand new year. Many people are already crafting their new year’s resolution.

We all want to improve our lives this year and it’s important that we make a good plan to make sure we achieve what we desire.

We may have been very busy last year or perhaps things didn’t happen as expected. In our excitement to grab opportunities or perhaps in our sense of urgency to fix chronic problems in our lives, we fail to realize who our true self is.

So, before we get our pen and journals (paper or electronic) to scribble our plans, it’s wise to review if we are still in touch with our true identity.

Where should we start?

There are at least four aspects of our being that we may need to assess our real self: life purpose, core values, life areas, and limiting beliefs.

Life Purpose
Perhaps the most powerful driving force in our life is our life purpose. If we are clear with our life purpose we can make better decisions and actions, be happy and fulfilled, and live meaningful life. Instead of living other people’s life or just following other’s command, we have to execute the very purpose of our life. A simple model to follow is to determine the four aspects as follows:
What I love to do? (passion)
What I am good at? (talent)
What the world needs? (mission)
What I can be paid for? (profession)
The four questions above were taken from a model known as ikigai, a Japanese compound word meaning “reason for living.” It is often represented by a Venn diagram shown below. The convergence of the four aspects will be our ikigai.

Core Values
Core values are the things we believe are important in our life. They tell us our deepest longings, needs and desires. We need to identify them and be crystal clear whether we are living up to our values. Oftentimes, the causes of our frustrations whether personal or professional are either we are living against our values or other people are violating our values. But once we identify our core values, only then we can take proper actions to correct our own behavior and take proper response to other people.

To identify our core values, we have to go through the elicitation process, wherein we ask the following questions:
What situations that happened in the past trigger negative emotions (fear, anger, disappointment, confusion, discontent)?
What actions or behaviors I did in the past that made me feel bad about myself?
What did other people do to me that made me feel bad, angry, or offended?
What good deeds did I do that made me feel very good inside?
What positive commendations did I receive from other people that made me feel good inside?
Identify those values related with the questions above. Rank them according to importance. Once we identified our top core values (at most 6), keep them in our heart and make sure we consider them in every decision that we make, so that our actions and behavior are always aligned to these core values.

Life Priorities and Balance
We play many different roles in society. We are a spouse, a parent to our kids, a student at school, a boss and an employee in our company, and a volunteer in a non-profit organization. We also have to maintain our health through exercise and proper nutrition, and our mental and psychological health through recreation, training and education. Juggling those roles and tasks may overwhelm us and tip us off balance. So, we need to examine which areas of our life are priorities and which of those priority areas we’re not getting our desired outcomes.

The so-called Wheel of Life illustrated below is a fast and easy way to measure the relative importance of the major categories in our life. We can modify the categories as we see fit. Rank each category from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important. Pick 3 or more most important categories and measure our progress or performance. Those important categories that do not measure up to our standard or expectation should be given priority for improvement. Any area in our life will affect the other areas; let’s say our health suffered, evidently other areas such as recreation, career, learning, and even spirituality will suffer.

Limiting Beliefs
When assessing our previous results, it’s important to identify which limiting beliefs we hold for ourselves and for the world around us. Most of our limiting beliefs came from cultural programming we received since childhood. That we are not good enough, not pretty enough, and so on. That we should be like our parents. That we should follow traditions. That we should take a certain profession. Society is measuring us against stiff standards. Complying to moral and ethical norms is a necessary, but complying to the mold that society wants us to be is not – we are all unique.

As we craft our plans for this year, it is important that we revisit and clarify our life purpose, core values, priorities and life balance, and limiting beliefs.

Watch out for my future blog posts about life purpose, core values, limiting beliefs, and wheel of life.


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