What do you really know about yourself?
What do you think you should know about yourself?
What makes you tick?
The most important subject none of us have ever been taught is how to learn about ourselves.
We are never given a process, method, framework or strategy for learning about ourselves. We learn about ourselves purely through trial and error. It seems very inefficient, but then again no one has ever been you before in human history.
Learning about yourself takes a lot of time, but it’s well worth the investment. The more you know about yourself, the better decisions you’ll make about the lifestyle you’ve always wanted to live.
Self-knowledge will enable you to use your energy more efficiently by aligning your habits with your purpose. The more you know about yourself, the more confidence you’ll have in your decisions.
Self-employment has forced me to learn a lot about myself. After all, I have no one else to answer to but myself. The more I’ve learned about myself, the more I’ve been able to enhance my personal productivity and to be able to do everything I wanted to do in life. It has made me more energetic and much less anxious.
The most effective way for learning about yourself is through self-experimentation and self-assessment. I’ve conducted loads of different lifestyle experiments since I was laid off 16 years ago. They have taught me a lot about myself.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my personal self-assessment.
My Purpose, My “Why”
I like to think of the purpose of my life as a combination of my values, motivations and why I’ve chosen to the work I have chosen to do.
Understanding my purpose gives both direction and meaning to my life. It grounds me in my values when I have a very important decision to make and keeps me focused on my core beliefs.
What’s my “Why?”
I want to help people find more meaningful work.
I believe everyone has a great untold story inside of them that deserves to be told. I want to give people permission to themselves to create that untold story by designing their lifestyle around the work they’ve always wanted to do.
In no particular order, my values are:
- choose time and experiences over money and material possessions
- keep things as simple as possible
- challenge the status quo and “make it happen”
- family first
- be frugal, not cheap
- work from anywhere
- be genuine
My core motivation is to help people design their lifestyle around more meaningful work.
My natural motivations included supporting my family, meeting new people, having new experiences, travel, being outside and learning something new.
Any combination of these motivations will get me to take action and sustain my momentum.
My Energy Needs
My “peak performance period” is in the morning and I need time to restore to increase my personal productivity.
My Daily Routine
I’m a classic morning person. I start my day with a half hour of stretching and meditation.
I get my best work done between 7am and 12pm. After lunch I focus on less intensive work tasks like answering email, paying bills, website maintenance, etc.
After that I go to the gym and then take my dog for an hour-long walk. When we get back I start dinner or help my wife. We spend our evenings relaxing by watching TV or reading. I’m usually in bed by 9:30pm.
My Work Needs
I’m a highly motivated worker, so I generally prefer working on my own.
I do value doses of collaboration throughout the week to challenge my thinking and perspectives. I don’t value endless meetings.
I’m a highly focused worker, but do everything possible to reduce potential distractions. I will work at home, in my co-working space and even enjoy working in the lobby of the Boston Hostel just to be around the energy of fellow travelers.
What Restores Me
- I need at least 8 hours of sleep every night, sometimes as much as 10 hours (especially during the winter). There’s no cutting corners with my sleep. I’m not as energetic or as focused without my proper rest.
- I need to chill out after 8pm at night.
- Exercise helps me burn off anxious energy.
- Meditation helps put on the breaks of my frantic thoughts as I wake up each day.
- Going for a walk outside each day also fuels my energy.
- I need at least 4 weeks of vacation each year. My ideal vacation involves being completely disconnected from all digital devices.
My Natural Preferences and Tendencies
There is much we can change about ourselves, but our natural preferences and tendencies makes us who are are as unique individuals.
My Learning Style
I love reading. When I learn a new concept for the first time, I generally prefer picking up a book about it. Then I try practicing the concepts or skills on my own.
When I get stuck, that’s when I reach out to an expert with a specific question. Finally, I develop a routine for mastering the skills.
I definitely learn better by “doing”.
My Strengths and Abilities
About a year ago I took Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment here’s what I learned about my top 5 natural strengths.
“People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.”
“People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.”
“People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.”
“People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.”
“People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.”
To learn about my personality type I took a assessment similar to Myers Briggs.
I am a classic ENTJ: an extrovert, intuitive, thinking, judging.
Myers-Briggs describes the characteristics of my personality type as,
“Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.”
My Emotional Intelligence
I would describe my emotional Intelligence as a strong ability to focus while I’m working, but a tendency to be more lax with my self-control the more fatigued I am.
When I work with others I have a tendency to be a “people pleaser,” but when I get excited about something, I tend to talk over people.
My ability to delay gratification is also very strong. A friend of mine once asked me if woke up super early on Christmas morning to open presents. I told him I didn’t and in fact, my parents usually had to wake up my sister and I.
My Source of Confidence
I draw my confidence from three primary sources: 1) my council of life advisors and 2) practice tons when no one is watching and 3) quick wins
My council of life advisors includes my wife, parents, sister, close friends and trusted colleagues. I rely on them all for different reasons.
When I’m feeling stuck or down I generally know exactly which person to call to get me going again. Talking out my problems with others energizes me and significantly reduces my anxiety.
My mom loves telling everyone the first time someone saw me walk. My aunt was babysitting me at her house. She had an enormous living room. To her astonishment I walked straight across it without any help.
My mom missed me first public steps, but she knew I had been secretly practicing how to walk in my crib. She caught me a couple of times.
Even today, I like practicing a new skill or concept over and over in private until I feel ready to go public with it. Being thorough makes me feel confident.
I also strengthen my self-confidence by giving myself the opportunity to make small, consistent actions on a day basis. These are achievable goals or quick wins propel me forward and generate momentum toward my goal.
Everything Holding Me Back
We all have stuff holding us back from what we really want to become. Sometimes we are aware of it, sometimes not. Here are my issues.
I still fear not having enough money to pay my bills. I have more than enough, but it’s deeply embedded in me. While I’ve worked a ton to minimize this fear, it still crops up from time to time.
I also fear disappointing other people. Sometimes I don’t feel like whatever I have been asked to do is enough. I get anxious just thinking about it. I want so badly to make everyone happy. I tend to overwork to compensate for this fear.
Finally, I like to think I have a “healthy” fear of heights. I’ll walk along the edge of a cliff, but it’s without much enjoyment.
My Unhealthly Desires
I have always had a desire to be financially independent (see fear of paying bills above). It has provided both a source of healthy and unhealthy motivation.
I have achieved most of my personal financial goals, but this desire also led me to build a business in the past purely for the money. It was a soul sucking experience and a mistake I know I won’t be repeating with Life Skills That Matters.
As I’ve become older, I’ve been more honest about my cravings.
I consider them activities I seek out for comfort, but have the tendency to over do it and end up losing my self-control.
My cravings include consuming chips, chocolate and alcohol. To deal with my cravings, I need to abstain from them. The comfort they offer in the short-term, end up making me feel lousy in the long term.
Whether this is fair or not, I have high expectations for anyone who works with me. I am a very hard worker and expect the same from my colleagues. I like plenty of free time in my life, but when I work I want to be productive about it.
I also tend to be very efficient with my time. I am almost never late and don’t like it when others aren’t punctual or don’t contact me if they are running late. I want to be respectful of other people’s time and I expect the same in return.
When I make a commitment, I follow through on it. I enjoy knowing people can count on me. I have high expectations for myself and don’t want to let people down (see fear of disappointing others above).
How You Can Start Learning About Yourself
I didn’t share all this to blab on and on about myself. I did it to show you how well I want you to be able to know yourself one day. This is a self-inventory.
If you want to work for yourself, you have to know yourself first. You’ll choose work and a method of working that makes sense for you.