If there’s one question we have all asked ourselves at least once, it’s this: What am I made for?
Some of us get so caught up in wanting to find out the answer, that we cannot move forward with anything until we do. I think there’s a happy medium in remaining intrigued, without becoming obsessed.
The other day, I saw a post on Dr Henry Cloud’s business account (@dailydrcloud) that caught my eye. If you’re not familiar with Dr Henry Cloud, he is an American psychologist, author and leadership expert who has written a book on boundaries and how to implement them in your life. I read this book about five years ago and it’s one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.
I digress. This was the post…
I would go as far as suggesting that finding out what makes us tick could lead us to discovering what we were made for. Whether you think so or not, I decided that it was worth a shot.
Realising quite quickly that this exercise was going to take longer than I had anticipated, I began scrolling through some of the comments underneath: ‘What if I don’t know?’ ‘What if you’ve lost yourself along the way?‘.
The truth is, as we grow up, we all lose ourselves a little don’t we? I’ve got so many ‘hats’ that I wear on a daily basis: mum, daughter, wife, sister, friend, confidante, advisor, colleague. It makes sense that as the years tick by and as we gather a new ‘hat’ we lose a small part of ourselves; the person we were created to be.
Underneath that initial question, came the suggestion: ‘Go back to the first thing you remember enjoying as a child‘. Then another piece of advice ‘Start where you are, get to know yourself‘.
It feels a bit silly ‘getting to know yourself’ at the age of 47 but I think it’s important to get to know our evolving self as the years (and life stages) go by. So without dismissing this exercise as ‘pointless’ because I couldn’t come up with the answers immediately (anyone else do that?) I decided to spend some time brainstorming and working out what makes me tick.
What do you gravitate towards?
I think what flummoxed me initially, is that this question starts with the word ‘what?’. If it started with ‘who?’ or ‘where?’ I probably would have found it more straight-forward. Then I realised that brainstorming doesn’t lend itself to over-thinking so went with the flow and this is what I came up with…
Fresh air, a beautiful view, nature, a new project, planning, learning, connecting with people, laughter.
What boosts your energy naturally?
Again I found this quite difficult but tried to really think about the different occasions in life, when I have felt the most energised. I think the word ‘naturally’ suggests that wine and/or coffee aren’t legitimate answers! Putting those options to one side, my thoughts turned to…
Planning a project, having a ‘deep and meaningful’ with a friend, helping people, giving advice or encouragement to someone, learning a new skill, tidying/creating a homely space, making people laugh.
(My husband hates this bunting, I love it!)
What makes you excited on your calendar?
This was actually really hard. I found it easier to think about the things I ‘dread’ more than the things I get excited about. This either makes me a miserable old cow or someone who really does need to work out what makes her tick! I have my suspicions that picking up the book ‘The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F***‘ earlier this year, was long overdue.
After some thought, I came up with this list:
A lunch out with girlfriends, a whole day to myself with no demands, clothes shopping (by myself or with a friend), a weekend away with my husband, skiing, one on one time with my offspring.
Where do you come alive?
Again, there is probably good reason why the person creating this exercise chose to start with the word ‘where?’ so although it threw me initially, I tried to think slightly differently…
With good friends who I can be myself around, in a meeting when I have something of value to offer, in the outdoors (assuming the sun is shining!), when I’ve been asked for advice and I know the person values my opinion, when I’m learning something new.
When does time fly by?
When I’m planning a new project, when I’m writing, when I’m in the company of good friends – laughing, chatting and playing games, when I’m learning something new, shopping (sounds shallow but if I miss this out, I’m not being true to myself!).
I noticed that quite a few of the questions were similar, resulting in some of my answers being a bit repetitive. But I figured that there was probably good reason for them appearing more than once; I think these are the things I need to pay attention to.
Remember the person on Instagram who suggested returning to what you enjoyed as a child? A few of the things I remember from those ‘good old days’ are: laughing with friends, playing outside, making things and rearranging the furniture in my room.
Aside from maybe stunting my creative side somewhat, I actually haven’t changed all that much!
I think this is a really useful exercise if you’ve lost your way a little, or are attempting to do ALL of the things and feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re trying to figure out what your next life move is? Sit down for half an hour with a pen and some paper, then let your mind wander. I would love to hear how you get on.