There are lots of resources to help you figure out who you are, but far fewer to help you figure out who you want to be.
Those are two different things. One is your present position and one is your ideal future destination.
In fact, the often talked about concept of being the “best” version of yourself depends on knowing what that version is and what it involves.
So, what kind of person do you want to be?
Let’s look at some steps you can take to figure this out.
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1. Look at people you admire.
Are there people in your life who you admire greatly? What is it about them that you like so much?
Or are their well known people who embody the type of person you’d like to be?
Perhaps you have a friend with a big heart who is generous with her time.
Or maybe you look up to a public figure who is famed for his positivity.
Get specific about the traits you like in these people and try to state why that trait is so admirable.
2. Consider other traits you would like to have.
Aside from dissecting the characters of other people, spend some time in self-reflection and give serious thought to the traits you would like to have or improve upon.
One approach that might help is to look at the things you dislike about who you are, your traits, or your mindset.
From there, you can turn these things on their heads to make them into traits you do want.
So if you dislike that you are often dismissive of the views of others, you could put the trait of open-mindedness on your list.
Or if you are quite judgmental in the way you view people, you could switch this around and say that you’d like to be accepting of others.
Another approach is to think about the way you would like other people to see you – a bit like step one but in reverse.
What traits would you want them to admire in you? What traits would you like them to value in you?
3. Rank the traits in order of importance to you.
Hopefully by now you’ll have a reasonable list of traits or characteristics that you’d like to embody.
But there are bound to be some things you would like more than others. And while you can aim to work on all of them over time, it’s better to be realistic and decide upon some priorities that really reflect the person you want to be.
So score each of the traits on your list from 1-10 with 1 being least important and 10 being most important.
4. Perform a gap analysis of these traits versus who you are now.
Take your list of traits and order it with the most important at the top and least important at the bottom.
Now give yourself a score from 1-10 based on your current view of who you are.
In other words, how would you score yourself on those traits right now?
Perhaps you are a 7 on being proactive but only a 3 on assertiveness, for example.
Now here’s the important bit. Look at the score for importance and the score for where you are now and look for where there is the biggest difference.
This will tell you where you see yourself as lacking in terms of who you want to be (note: you may not actually be lacking if your view of yourself is very different from how other people view you).
There is one small caveat with this and that is what you might perceive your ideal score to be.
In other words, the importance score doesn’t necessarily reflect the precise score you wish to have for that trait.
Take assertiveness – you might have a real problem with people pleasing and having others treat you like a doormat, so you give it an 8 in terms of it’s importance to you.
But you don’t want to be someone who ignores the wishes of others to get their own way all the time either.
So being assertive might be an important trait to you, but not one you wish to take too far. Perhaps you’d be satisfied with a 5 for it.
5. Find the right balance.
As mentioned, you might not want to score a 10 on every trait you rate as important to you.
That’s because life is better when it’s balanced, and this goes for you and who you want to be too.
You can have too much of a good thing. Or, rather, the good things might not always be best for you.
Take kindness, for example. Being kind to others is probably something you would wish to embody. But kindness generally has its limits beyond which you are hurting yourself to help others.
You might burn out if you spend all your free time volunteering, for instance.
Instead, you need to balance out your desire to be a kind person with the need to be kind to yourself.
6. Think about the actions you would like to take.
The person you are is mirrored by the things you do. You are, to some extent, your actions.
So think about what kind of things you would like to do, not only in your life as a whole but on a regular basis too.
Do you want to be someone who holds the door open for others or lets another motorist pull out of a junction?
Do you want to be the person who stands up for those who are being harassed, bullied, or attacked?
Do you want to be a great listener?
7. Ask what kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
The kind of person you are will determine not only how you are remembered by others but also the influence you have on the world when you are gone.
By thinking about the legacy you want to leave, you can work backwards from there to figure out who you need to be to leave it.
Should you want to leave your local area greener and better for wildlife, you might wish to get involved with grassroots organizations that share that aim.
If you want to be remembered as someone who fought for justice and equality, ask what actions you can take to achieve that.
8. Think about the “things” you want to be.
There are endless things we can label ourselves with – mother, father, leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, etc.
Whilst any label is overly simplistic in terms of what it is trying to represent, it can be a good idea to consider what labels you would like to fit in life.
Perhaps you want to be an explorer – of places, of cultures, of different ways of living.
Maybe you want to be an activist who strives to make the world a better place through direct action.
Or you might want to be a politician in order to use that power for the greater good.
9. Set yourself some goals.
Actions are important in defining who you are. But a collection of actions contribute to a larger goal.
So by asking what you want to achieve in life and actually setting yourself those goals, you can gain clarity on the type of person you wish to be.
Those could be personal development goals for your inner life or goals that have an outer objective.
10. Aim for growth, not perfection.
Truth is, we can never fully realize our vision of our ideal self.
What we can do is strive to move closer to it, step by step.
We can aim to be a “better” person tomorrow than we are today (“better” being completely subjective in this respect).
Knowing this keeps us from feeling disappointed when we look in the mirror and realize that we aren’t entirely who we want to be.
In fact, when you realize that life and growth are inextricably linked, you see each day as an opportunity.
Still not sure what kind of person you want to be? Speak to a life coach who can help you figure it out and then make it a reality. Simply fill out this short form to get quotes from several coaches along with details of how they can help.
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