The Starting Point to Finding Purpose – Self-assessment

Last week I wrote about how, to achieve your goals, you have to know what your purpose is.  I promised to show you the steps to do this so here is the first step: you have to truly understand who you are and where you are now.

The hard bit I found was to a) be completely, brutally honest and b) cut out any materialistic objectives and c) ignore my emotions but this is key to succeeding in finding your purpose.

The best way is to concentrate on the intangibles that will make us truly happy.  What meaning do you want your life to have had when you die?

Self-assessment needs to be objective

Get a large piece of blank paper (or whiteboard) and then look at yourself and the position you are in right at this moment. Stand back and look at your entire life and position now as a stranger might who didn’t know you and was only given the facts.  Stop yourself projecting forward to what you want and concentrate on the here and now.

Now list out, in the form of a pros and cons list, what you have.  Start off with the material things you already possess and the material things that are a burden e.g. nice house v large mortgage.  Keep going and list everything. It is entirely up to you how long and detailed this list is; but a good idea is to start with the material items you feel you could not live without, and/or that make you happy.

Then move on to the skills you have v the skills you know you do not have.   Then your good points/qualities and your bad points/qualities (park your ego and be honest). I found one of the best ways to be honest about my good and bad qualities was to ask my close friends what they thought they were – you don’t have to accept what they say but it can be quite enlightening!

Keep going with your list and include anything such as disabilities, medical conditions or physical/mental constraints etc. Next move on to your achievements v opportunities you know that you have missed out on.  Then add your beliefs (good and bad) and principles you hold dear currently and finally list anyone you think has what you think you want or think you deserve.  No-one is going to see this apart from you so go on and add the people you can admit you are jealous of.

Reviewing your list for accurate self- assessment

Once you have finished listing everything you can think of about yourself in ‘+’ and ‘-‘ columns (I used a flipchart and it ran into 4 pages!) stand back and re-look at the list you have created.  I walked away when I completed my list and did the next bit a few days later as I found it gave me fresh perspective and, quite frankly, when I went back I was appalled at some of my ‘-‘ comments but took heart in my ‘+’ notes.

I strongly advise leaving this list for at least a few hours before reviewing it. Whenever we spend any time in self-assessment it is coloured by recent events and emotions, however objective we try to be. Walking away and returning another day, with a different mindset helps you be far more objective at the second look.

Have a long hard, unemotional, rational and impartial look your lists and ask WHY for each point.  Ask ‘why’ about everything – search for the reason behind everything you have got, done, think and believe for each aspect of your life now. Your present state is the result of your journey to date. Questioning everything that exists right now gives you an insight into what was important to you before the present moment.

From your why question you will understand the reason behind how you have acted and behaved in the past which is when you will truly understand yourself as a person.  It doesn’t mean that you must accept this is the person you are and always will be but self-realisation is a momentous step to then determining your future.

This stage of finding your purpose is needed, before you can decide your future direction. Self-assessment and understanding past motivations helps you formulate a plan for moving forward.

You will also find that this exercise will awaken some clarity around what you really desire so you have meaning moving forward. It can also be a shock to realise that much of what you have in the positive column is meaningless in the big scheme of things. However, when you do this self-assessment don’t get down on yourself about the negative column. Skills can be learned, and self-improvement is a healthy response to areas you feel are negative. The whole point of this is to determine who you are and a good part of who you want to be.

I cover the next step to finding purpose in “Brainstorming your life”.

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