When you self-reflect, you are able to determine what is most important to you. We orient ourselves towards our desired future by projecting a motivational agenda, which translates into a set of goals we hope to attain. These goals give our values and priorities clarity. For example, I have many things I like to do: speak, research, write, blog, teach, etc. However, too many tracks often cloud the overarching vision. In order to pare it down, I had a teammate ask me, “If you could only do one of these for the rest of your life, which one would it be?” That helped me get clear on what was most important to me. It forced me to self-reflect and become more self-aware as to what my top priority goal was.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and had it talk back to you? I did, just once. It was during a chaotic time of my life, and I had just made a life altering decision. I stood before the mirror just staring and actually saw my reflection give encouragement and show empathy to my physical self. Too often we look for our true identity in the reflection of others, when the necessary catalyst to move us forward will only come when we create our own narratives.
Self-awareness requires we determine if we are motivated to be an agent of change in our lives. In other words, do we have a fundamental need to exert our agency in the first place? Psychologists refer to this as “individuation”; each of us strives to become the authentic person we were uniquely designed to be. This force stems from an intrinsic motivation and is not reliant on external events, rewards or consequences. We do it because we have an inward compulsion to do so. This is the truest and purest form of self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to self-determination whereby the driving forces for my behavior reside within myself rather than the external environment.
I don’t want to look at the world; I want to engage it. Instead of lamenting ‘one day,' I want to start each morning chanting ‘day one.' I don’t want to be conformed to the world; I want to reflect the best of me onto the world. Who do you see now, and what do you want that reflection to look like? There are countless ways we can begin developing ourselves as a catalyst; from how we interact with strangers, to how we brand ourselves on social media, to how we spend our free time. Each of these things helps refine your internal image that the world so desperately needs to see.
We need to select goals that are consistent with our underlying motivations and with the skills and talents we have. It takes a while to be able to translate what you want into an actionable goal, so take some time and really delve into what lies beneath the surface. There you’ll find the infusion to become the most tremendous version of yourself.