When it came to job-hopping, Harland Sanders was an expert at it. Railroad worker, lawyer, life insurance salesman, ferry boat owner, lamp manufacturer, tire salesman, service station owner—these are just a few of the hats he wore throughout his various career aspirations. It goes to show that learning how to find yourself is easier said than done. However, when Sanders opened a restaurant at the service station he ran, a lightbulb went off in his head. This is what he was called to do and why everything else never made much sense.
Over the next few decades, Sanders perfected the recipe of his top seller: fried chicken. At age 62, he franchised “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” Twelve years later, he sold KFC for $2 million (or about $18 million today).
Sanders is a great example of what happens when you discover yourself. He went from someone who couldn’t hold down a job to one of the 20th century’s most recognizable entrepreneurs. Being aligned with who you are and what you were made to do on this Earth is the best way to experience success. However, most people don’t know how to make the jump from feeling lost to pursuing their calling with full force. The key to finding yourself is developing a strong sense of identity.
- Finding yourself means engaging in the process of understanding your purpose and identity.
- The self-discovery journey includes developing a strong sense of identity, building confidence, facing your problems, and other important strategies.
- A person who has found themselves is confident in their understanding of what they were designed to do.
What Does It Mean to “Find Yourself”?
The term “finding yourself” refers to the process of self-discovery and knowing your identity and purpose. At the end of this journey, a person becomes clear about what they want out of life. For example, people who have found themselves know what problem in the world they’re passionate about solving and what they want their future to look like. Additionally, they understand how to use their talents and resources to get closer to their goals and dreams.
Often, people who feel lost in life haven’t yet discovered who they really are and how to tap into the plan God has for them. They might feel like everything they do results in failure and disappointment. This can cause poor mental health, mental exhaustion, the development of bad habits, and feelings of worthlessness. However, when a person does the work they need to do to find out who they are, why they were born, and how to create goals that get them closer to fulfilling their purpose, they gain a sense of confidence, happiness, and fulfillment.
6 Tips for Finding Yourself
1. Develop a Strong Sense of Identity
“At the core of any destiny shift, there must be an identity shift.”Dale Mast
Your character, purpose in life, identity, convictions, and core values give you strong roots. People who lack these will always struggle to find themselves. When you don’t know these foundational things about yourself, you have no sense of who you are. Without strong roots, you’ll live to follow someone else’s purpose, beliefs, values, and definition of success, which leads to a dissatisfying life.
To avoid these problems, get clear on your identity by:
- Understanding the different types of identity and how they influence you. When you have a more biblical and traditional sense of identity, you’re more likely to feel better connected to yourself and others. However, most people are stuck in a self-centered modern identity, making it nearly impossible to know who they really are.
- Reflecting on your purpose. Be intentional about finding out what you’re meant to do in this life. Consider the unique gifts and talents God gave you and how you can drive the most impact in the world. You can also reveal your passions by thinking about a problem on Earth that you feel compelled to fight against and solve.
- Asking those closest to you for insight. Discuss your top three strengths and gifts with the three people you’re closest to. This might include family members, mentors, or friends. They can provide you with new insight that helps you understand yourself.
- Being actionable about becoming the person you believe yourself to be. Those stepping into their identity create habits to make sure they develop into the person they know they’re meant to become. How you walk through your daily life is a huge part of forming a solid identity. If you have bad habits that cause you to stray from your identity, work on creating stronger roots that will keep you grounded.
Learn more about resolving an identity crisis.
2. Work on Building Your Confidence
“Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”John Wooden
Your perception of yourself is the difference between fulfilling your destiny and living beneath your calling. So many people get stuck playing it safe and working in careers they hate because they don’t have the confidence to pursue their purpose. They feel it’s less risky to remain where they’re at than to step into their identity with belief and faith.
When you feel drawn to solve a particular problem, work toward a specific cause, or use your talents to the best of your abilities, don’t ignore it. God created you to fulfill a distinct purpose in life. Your confidence will grow when you develop a stronger relationship with Him and believe you are uniquely valuable in His eyes.
Other ways you can learn how to find yourself by working through insecurity include:
- Remaining humble. The loudest people in the room are usually the most insecure. By staying humble and having a student’s mindset, you exude more confidence. For instance, famed industrialist John D. Rockefeller was usually the quietest person in the boardroom and never took a seat at the head of the table. He remained in the middle so he could hear everyone’s perspective.
- Stopping comparison in its tracks. Insecurity often takes root in comparison. Stop yourself from having negative thoughts about how you measure up to your friends or acquaintances and instead begin focusing your mind on how to get closer to God’s vision for you.
- Working through jealousy. If you find yourself constantly pointing out people’s flaws and speaking poorly of others, you have jealousy issues. Driving people down with negative words doesn’t help you accomplish your purpose. It just reveals you’re insecure. Instead of being jealous, act with empathy, speak with emotional intelligence, and lift up those around you.
3. Become Intrinsically Motivated
“Motivation is a fire that burns from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”
As Jay Shetty explains in a YouTube video, researcher Tim Kasser found people who focus more heavily on extrinisic goals (raise, higher title, and gifts) versus intrinsic goals (serving others, stepping into your purpose, and fighting for a just cause) are less happy. They also have higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Many people who feel stuck in their personal and professional lives lack a sense of intrinsic motivation. Again, this roots back to identity. When you aren’t intentional about doing the things that fuel your soul, you naturally feel drained and unmotivated.
To tap into your intrinsic motivation:
- Get clear about your vision for the future. What do you want your life to look like in the next three to five years? What are you doing to make the world a better place? How will you accomplish these goals? Set large-scale objectives, visualize the finish line, and work backward to achieve your goals. Establishing a visualization practice every morning will help you dream big and feel excited about working toward your long-term vision.
- Find your “why.” Knowing your purpose and what drives you is key to self-discovery. Consider what type of work you’d do if money weren’t an issue. This doesn’t mean you have to work for free, but it does help you identify what you’re passionate about. From there, you can start building out a strategy for generating income by creating your own business or joining another person’s mission that fires you up.
4. Focus More on How You Can Serve and Bless Others
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”Mahatma Gandi
Self-discovery isn’t always about looking inward. Oftentimes, people receive revelations about what they’re meant to do with their lives when they’re acting in the service of others. Maybe you serve at a women’s shelter and realize your passion for providing free mental health services to women who have escaped traumatic experiences. Knowing this would help point you in the right direction regarding what you should do with your life. For instance, perhaps you get certified as a licensed mental health counselor or help organize low-cost therapeutic services.
The best place to start finding yourself is by looking into the faces of people in need. Whether someone needs mentorship or charity, become a servant leader and put others above yourself. This will help you realize where you can drive the most impact. When you do this, you’ll quickly discover the rewards of helping those around you are far greater than any type of extrinsic motivation.
5. Stop Running Away From Your Problems
“All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”James Thurber
What if you turned around and faced the problem chasing you? The journey to discover yourself starts with deep internal work. Everyone has issues in life, whether they happened in childhood or just occurred. However, avoiding your problems increases their power and life span. On the other hand, when we pursue our issues instead of letting them pursue us, we regain control of our lives and experience self-discovery.
To face your fears and deep-seated issues:
- Connect with God and grow your trust and faith in Him during times of trouble or crisis.
- Work with a licensed mental health professional to receive strategies for handling problems in your life.
- Pinpoint when your issues started. Digging deeper and finding the root cause of problems is the most helpful way to prevent them from further affecting your life.
- Practice positive thinking to shift into a new and stronger mindset.
6. Avoid Social Conformity
“To find yourself, think for yourself.”
Finding yourself through the process of self-discovery is becoming increasingly more difficult. Most people in today’s world are heavily influenced by social media, television, music, and the news. Basing one’s identity in modern culture correlates to feeling like you don’t belong, having poor real-life personal connections, undergoing increased self-centeredness, lacking strong ethics and morals, and experiencing limited spiritual growth. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that only 14 percent of Americans say they’re “very happy” with life—a drop from the reported 31 percent in 2018.
Social conformity is at an all-time high because the public is programmed to conform at every angle. While it’s easier to go with the flow, it certainly won’t make you happier. If you’re feeling lost in life, it’s time to think deeply about who’s influencing you (and stealing your identity in the process).
To prevent or escape social conformity:
- Evaluate what content you consume. This includes television, movies, music, books, podcasts, and more. Limit your interaction with media that does not add value or cause spiritual growth in your life. Explore content that fits with your values.
- Stop hanging out with people who bring you down. Surround yourself with positive influences who help you become the highest version of yourself. At the same time, distance yourself from those who bring you down. If you need to look for new friends that lift you up, focus on finding people who help you think for yourself and grow.
- Continue focusing on growing deep roots. Instead of spending time consuming content or media that doesn’t add value to your life, opt for books, lectures, continuing education, and other resources that help grow your character, purpose in life, identity, convictions, and core values. Plan what you’ll study and schedule a time to develop these aspects of your life.
How to Find Yourself: Experiment and Take Notes
“Don’t spend all your time trying to FIND yourself. Spend your time CREATING yourself into a person that you’ll be proud of.”Sonya Parker
The process of finding yourself is usually associated with an arduous journey laden with emotional pain. However, that doesn’t have to be true for you. In fact, self-discovery can be a lot of fun.
Think of it as an adventure where you get to experiment to see what path you’re supposed to be on in life. While you might go down some winding roads, practice self-awareness to understand what you like about each venture and what to avoid in the future.
For example, keep a journal every day and explore what you’re grateful for every morning and night. This might include hobbies, work, and charitable causes you’re involved in. You can also make a note of any less than favorable tasks, responsibilities, and influences. Once you do this, strategize on staying away from these particular things and increasing involvement in what you enjoy. As a result, you’ll craft a life you love living.
And remember, if you lose track of your purpose, it’s never too late to rediscover yourself.