“Who am I, you ask? I am made from all the people I’ve encountered and all the things I have experienced. Inside, I hold the laughter of my friends, the arguments with my parents, the chattering of young children, and the warmth from kind strangers. Inside there are stitchings from cracked hearts, bitter words from heated arguments, music that gets me through, and emotions I cannot convert. I am made from all these people and moments. This is who I am” (Ming D. Liu).
January Turns to February
As we are leaving the first few moments of the new year behind, coming back into our routines, ditching resolutions or sticking with them, I encourage you to reflect on what it is you want to define and commit your year to. As I reflect on my experiences and the self-knowledge that I strive to achieve on a day-to-day basis, it becomes a little bit more clear throughout each day, who I have been, who I am, and who I want to be.
Using the transitioning months, where life feels like it has slowed down a little bit, motivation and momentum are on the decline, and the holidays are long gone, can be a great time to analyze your hopes, dreams, feelings, and actions.
The two questions that people seem to have a hard time with are the questions of:
- Who Am I?
- Why Am I Here?
Consider this article your jumpstart into your feelings, your past, and your future. I am going to model productive ways to think about those two “earth-shattering” questions and provide a little bit of perspective to your life.
Looking Forward and Behind: A Model
Looking back, I see that I am a constant and loyal friend who thrives in the act of bringing people together.
At the present, I see that I possess a dedication to processing and learning more about the awareness of myself, the people around me, and the larger issues that plague the world. The way that I live life in the present is a reflection of my values of exploration, justice, and humanity. However, my present also portrays a window into fear. Fear of conflict and shortcomings in my relationships, which causes me to struggle with confrontational communication and speaking the power of what I truly feel.
For my future self, I want to build on the positive values that make me unique and powerful, but pursue intentional growth in my weaknesses in order to better myself. My desire to work on my weaknesses will expand my confidence and equip me with tools of boldness that will enhance my relationships and self-view.
Throughout my life, I want to continue to dedicate my efforts to communicate well during difficult situations, provide hope to others, and push myself to constantly be a more effective leader and a better friend.
The practice that I just modeled above is an excellent way to think about where you are, where you have been, and where you want to go in life. I recommend starting your self-reflection journey by journaling your responses to your past, present, and future. Being able to look forward and behind will allow you to better understand your values, strengths, weaknesses, and what you need to do to become a better version of yourself.
In order to go a bit deeper into understanding your best self. I have created some journal topics for you to reflect on, talk about with others, or simply think about or meditate on. These subjects will enhance your ability to know what you want, what you need, and how you go about making the things you desire happen.
- Values and Principles
What are your core values and lenses that you see the world through? How do these values affect the way you interact with others, yourself, and the environment in which you exist?
- Personal Vision and Purpose
What is the vision that you have for yourself and your life? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years: job, family, relationships, travel, skills? Do you think you have a purpose for your life? If you do have a purpose, does your purpose align with your values?
- Stress Management and Life Balance
How do you manage stressful moments in your life? Are you more reactive or responsive? Do you cope with your stress in healthy, positive ways or damaging, negative ways? How can you improve upon the balance of your life balance and stress levels?
- Life Defining Events
Think back on the good and bad moments in your life. What stands out to you as a shift or the flip to a new chapter in your life? How have you used these experiences to get to where you are today? What made these events significant?
- Self-Awareness Levels and Feedback Receptiveness
When you experience a feeling, are you able to put words to the feeling? Do you know what you need to do in times of stress or conflict? Do you know what you need in times of contentment and happiness? How well do you deal with communication and feedback from others?
- Strengths and Enablers
What are some of the things that you do well in life? What is something that you are proud of? When someone needs your help, what are they normally asking you for? How can you foster your strengths to serve you and others more effectively?
- Blockers of Highest Self
What are some of the things that block your best performance? Why do you think you struggle with those challenges? How can you begin to foster growth and change within yourself to face the blockers of your highest self?
- Leadership Style
Are you a leader or a follower? If you are a leader, what is your leadership style? Why do you consider yourself a leader? If you are a follower, do you have aspirations to someday become a leader? Are you content with your decision to be a follower? How can you balance leading and following for a more well rounded personhood?
- Relationships and Networks
What relationships mean the most to you? Why do those relationships mean so much to you? Do you feel like you have a strong community of support surrounding you? What is something you strive for and hope to cultivate in your relationships and networks?
- Self Development Plan
What micro-steps can you take to send you on the path that you are working towards?
I have used this practice a number of times in my life to allow me to experience myself and others in a fuller, deeper way. Use these starting points to launch into more learning and growth about yourself in an effort to take your being to its greatest potential.