If you’re looking to learn more about yourself and develop a better understanding of who you are, here are ten different ways to start the process and achieve your goals. Keep in mind that there’s no wrong way to go about this; everyone develops at their own pace, so don’t feel pressured to jump from one strategy to the next. Taking things slow and making sure that you understand why each strategy works will help you discover the true you, whatever that means for you personally.
1) What were you doing five years ago?
Did you have a job? Did you enjoy it? How did you get where you are today? Sometimes, it’s easy to forget all of that. Looking back helps define who we are and how we got here—and can help us chart a course for our future. When was the last time you took stock of your life and thought about where you want to be in five years or ten years from now?
2) Be your own best friend
Spending time with yourself is one of your best gifts. But we can get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we end up putting ourselves on autopilot, which leads us to resenting situations where we’re forced to spend time alone, such as traveling for work or even going out for dinner. To combat feelings of loneliness and self-loathing, try turning off your phone and spending some time with yourself each day. If you don’t want to be alone, invite a friend over for dinner or go see a movie together—just make sure you plan it ahead of time so you don’t have any last minute cancellations!
3) Acknowledge your emotions
The first step toward self-discovery is simple: acknowledge your emotions. It may sound overly simplistic, but recognizing your feelings can be difficult when you’re submerged in them. They change quickly and frequently, often before you even have time to recognize what they are! Learning how to understand and accept what you’re feeling at any given moment is a key first step toward learning how to harness it for good.
4) Step out of your comfort zone
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, but breaking out of it can be difficult. If you want to discover your true self, step out of your comfort zone and explore as many different opportunities as possible. An interesting way to do that is by volunteering, where you help someone or an organization for free. This simple act will challenge you and teach you valuable skills in communication and time management that are vital for success later on.
5) Think of a song that means something special to you
Music can be a powerful emotional trigger. Think of a song that has special meaning to you and use it as a focal point for your writing. For me, You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker can reduce me to tears whenever I hear it on the radio, which happened once while I was driving.
6) Learn what it takes to make yourself laugh
To find out what makes you laugh, think about all of your favorite TV shows and movies. What do they have in common? The truth is, if you want to learn what makes you tick, you’ve got to put yourself under a microscope and examine every aspect of your personality. Once you know what gets a rise out of you on a humor level, then you can start thinking about how that translates into things like music or art.
7) How would your best friend describe you?
Your best friend would describe you as a smart and down-to-earth person. He/she would say that you are very supportive of your friends and family members, but that sometimes you can be overly critical of yourself. They also believe that if you set your mind on something, nothing will stop you from achieving it.
8) Keep a gratitude journal
The more grateful you are, the happier you feel. Gratitude has been proven to increase happiness and can help counteract negative feelings. It’s a powerful tool—which is why it’s important that we recognize its benefits. Make time each night before bed or in morning journaling sessions to write down 5 things you’re grateful for that day or week. It will leave you feeling uplifted, while also giving your mind a jolt of positivity at start or end of each day.
9) Decide on one positive thought for the day
Make a conscious decision about how you want to start your day. The thought might be anything from I will work hard today or today is going to be fun – whatever thought will get you going for that day. This is something like reverse psychology, and though it takes some effort in figuring out how exactly it works, it can be effective in ensuring that you have a good day.
Just make sure you keep your positive thoughts strong throughout the day! If you find yourself having negative thoughts all of sudden, switch back to your positive thought of choice. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned, but at least you tried.
This could also apply towards daily goals: make a list of five things you want to accomplish for that day and try not to let any one slip through the cracks!
10) Journal three things every day that make you happy
A key part of self-discovery is understanding what makes you happy. Journaling has been shown to help with mental health and well-being, so try keeping a journal for a few weeks and seeing what comes up. Is there something that pops up every time? Is there a pattern? What else do these activities have in common? Use these things as inspiration for finding your path in life.