Article by Adam Smith
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To truly know yourself is the most important skill you can possess. When you know who you are, you know what you need to do – instead of looking for permission from others to do what you already know you ought to do. It allows you to bypass tons of frustration caused by putting time into the wrong things. Yes, life is supposed to be full of trial and error, but knowing yourself lets you find the best areas in which to experiment in the first place. Once you know yourself, you will become more confident, you will understand your purpose, and you will begin making a bigger impact on the world.
How can you learn who you are and what you ought to do in life? Here are the six steps you need to take:
1. Be Quiet
You cannot and will not be able to know yourself until you take the time to be still. Many people don't know themselves because any sort of silence scares them; it's too uncomfortable to be alone with every one of their flaws staring back at them. However, it isn't until you allow yourself to be alone that you can evaluate yourself and be completely truthful with yourself. Then, you will actually be able to see every facet of your life – the good and the bad. Be quiet and discover your true self.
2. Realize Who You Truly Are, Not Who You Want to Be
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I know you already have a set idea of who you desperately want to be, but it might not be who you were designed to be; this is why knowing who you really are is so important. When you know who you are, you will finally see where you and your specific gifts fit into the bigger picture.
Although there are many points along your journey that can help you discover yourself, the best way to begin is to take a personality test and the StrengthsFinder test. (If it has been five or more years since you've completed either of these, take them again.)
No, these self-evaluations aren't perfect, but they do pinpoint your top strengths, which will allow you to focus on the change you were meant to bring into the world.
3. Find Out What You Are Good at (and Not Good At)
This might be the most difficult step in the process of finding out who you are, but it's a necessary one. Sure, it takes trial and error to find what you're good at, and no, I don't want you to give up before you've made more than enough attempts, but knowing when to quit is a lesson everyone needs to learn.
Quit when you've put in ample time and your efforts aren't giving back in return. What is "ample time"? Only you can decide that. But when you quit correctly, it isn't giving up, it's making room for something better. When your actions do nothing but drain you – rather than produce more passion and increase your drive to do more – that's a good sign it is time to focus elsewhere. Your strengths will show you who you are.
4. Discover What You Are Passionate About
Following passion of any kind is a good thing, and you need to pay attention when passion comes because it indicates an area of life that you need to focus on more. If we're talking about following your passion in work, it's a good thing. If we're talking about having more passion for life, it's a good thing. Focus more on passion; understand yourself in better ways, and you'll make a bigger impact. Passion produces effort, and continuous effort produces results.
5. Ask for Feedback
If you don't know yourself, hearing what others have to say about you is a helpful practice. Ask them two simple questions: "What strengths do you think I need to develop further?" and "What weaknesses do you think I need to work on?" Of course, their opinions won't always be perfect, but their feedback will probably indicate a few areas you should at least take a second look at. This step is especially important for those who are stuck in the process of finding themselves. Sometimes, those closest to us can see things we might not be able to see in ourselves.
6. Assess Your Relationships
You can uncover a lot of knowledge about yourself by looking at your relationships. When you realize you can never truly know anyone else until you discover yourself, the importance of knowing yourself becomes even more apparent. This truth especially rings true for business leaders, because if you don't know the people on your team, then you will be lost as a leader.
This rule also applies to any relationship in your life. Almost as much as you need to know yourself, other people need to know who you are as well. People need you – the real you.
Use your reflections to fight your biggest fears, because when you understand who you are meant to be, your purpose will finally become bigger than your fears. When you realize who you are, you will spend less time spinning your wheels. Focusing on your strengths gives you the needed traction to begin making a bigger and better difference in the world. When you know yourself, you will find more peace, and you will find success more quickly than ever before.
Now, go take action and find your true self – starting today.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Adam Smith is an entrepreneur, speaker and writer. He resides with his family in Illinois. Find out more about Adam at ASmithBlog.com/about.