If you did the exercise from last week’s blog post and realized that your list is heavily social-self-driven, and that you have no idea what your essential self is or what it wants, this post is for you.
The MIA Essential Self
When I first looked my list of goals, none of them was from my essential self.
In fact, when I asked my essential self: “What is it that you truly want?” I drew a complete blank. I sat for a long time thinking about the question, and I came up with nothing.
That was a scary moment for me. I realized just how disconnected I was from my essential self.
I shouldn’t have been surprised though. After all, my social self has been trying to silence my essential self for years, dismissing her ideas and dreams as “childish, unrealistic, unachievable, etc.”
Take what I studied in college. I majored in chemistry and minored in biology, despite the fact that the only class that excited me during my entire four years there was psychology 101.
Because when picking a major, my social self stepped in and said: “What are you going to do with a psychology major? People are going to pay you to talk to them? Pick something challenging, something people will be impressed with!” So I picked chemistry, with the intention of getting a PhD, even though I had no clue what I wanted to do with the advanced degree.
If your social self consistently dismisses ideas and dreams coming from your essential self, your essential self will eventually learn to keep quiet altogether, because it knows speaking up is useless. Pretty soon, your essential self becomes a stranger who is living inside you, but whom you don’t know anything about.
The good news is, your essential self never leaves you. It’s an inherent part of you, even if it’s buried deep down inside. And there is a way to get re-acquainted and start moving toward the life you are meant to live.
Here is the three-step process I followed to re-discover my essential self’s true desire and make it a reality: earlier this year I launched my coaching practice, fifteen years after that Psychology 101 class in college. It turns out people do want to pay me to talk to them.
Step 1: Identify Your True Desires
First, you have to get to know again what you naturally prefer. See if you can identify one or more of the following:
- What activities did you love to do as a child?
- What activities do you still love to do?
- What activities make you forget time, and put you into a state of flow?
- What do you find yourself talking to people about, on and on and on?
- What are you incredibly good at doing?
Next, do a little dreaming. If you never had to worry about money again, what would you spend your time doing?
If your answer is: “I would lie on the beach all day and drink margaritas.” I invite you to dig a little deeper, because that answer is probably coming from the part of you that is completely and utterly exhausted from constantly doing and getting and striving. I’ll bet that you can only spend so much time on the beach, before you start itching for something to do.
Finally, look over your lists and see if you can detect a pattern. What are the common threads and characteristics? Are there any overlaps between what you love to do, what you’re good at, and what you dream about?
Write down everything your essential self desires. They don’t have to be big, but I wouldn’t be surprised if your life purpose shows up on the list!
Step 2: Map The Way
Now, pick a desire from your list, and figure out how to achieve it. To do that, we consult your social self.
Yes, you read that right.
It’s true that your social self isn’t great at setting goals that are aligned to the life that is right for you, because it is easily affected and influenced by external opinions and standards. However, it still plays a vital role in getting you to your right life, because your essential self has no idea how to navigate in the society you live in, in order to achieve its desires. It is fun loving and spontaneous, so it will always choose to play when given the choice.
For example, if you love video games, your essential self will want to play them all day long. Your social self, on the other hand, who is fantastic at planning ahead, and working hard, and networking with the right people, can figure out what you need to do to become a developer, so you can make a living developing and testing video games!! Your social self is the one who will get you through the studying, the exams, the resume preparation, the networking events, and the interviews, to get you the job that you will absolutely love.
One ground rule while you consult your social self: no idea is too crazy. Tell your social self this is just a brainstorming exercise if it gets skittish about other people’s judgments or opinions.
Come up with at least ten ways how can you move toward the desire you identified. Be creative.
Step 3: Take Consistent Action
Once you figure out the way to your goal, break it down to small, manageable steps. Take one step every single day.
For example, if you loved painting as a child, and want to become a painter, what is one small manageable step you can take today? Buy paint? Buy an easel? Look up the price of an easel? Do research on how to show your artwork? Call a gallery?
Take one step that brings you closer to your desire, every single day.
That’s it. 3 steps:
- Identify a desire.
- Figure out how to get there.
- Take action daily.
If you consistently allow your essential self to set the destination and your social self to act as the GPS that figures out how you get there, you will be living your ideal life before you know it!!
In the comments below, name one thing your essential self desires. How can your social self help get/achieve it?