Who defines you (you do!) before what defines you

Posted on in Everyday Inspiration  ·   2 Comments

Society and people will always ask you what you are going to do or become in life. You try and want to answer but it is a challenge because you are not even really sure of the questions that come up in life. What inspires me? What are my passions? What if I take the wrong path? If I have not sorted it out by grade 11/12 or post-secondary or in my career, I am behind in life! If I am in a career already…should I consider a switch? I better get a move on and pick something….But what do I pick!? It is all so confusing, frustrating and challenging.

We go out seeking the answers to these questions because they are important and decisions can not be made lightly; however, there is an urgency to sort this out sooner as opposed to later. Where to start though? Well, there is no shortage of information out there and people who will chime in to tell you ‘what’ you should do. Understand that if you don’t answer these questions, people will come in to the vacuum and sort it out for you. You will be driving forward, but are you comfortable letting someone else drive your life and career?

Part of the reason that others will tell you what to do is because you allow them to. You give them the authority because of your inaction. They become a voice of convenience that helps you to start putting down the foundations; however, if you have not taken the time to understand yourself, then they are laying down the tracks on a path that won’t make sense for you. They are creating a path that is right for them but might not be right for you. There is an importance to define ‘what’ you are so you can challenge life’s questions; however, it is equally important to understand, ‘who’ defines you. Do ‘you’ define yourself or do others define ‘you’?

By understanding ‘who’ you are, you can then tackle the challenging aspect to ‘what’ defines you. When you try to appreciate ‘who’ you are, that should be guided and directed by you…you are responsible for your path, not anyone else. People will tell you what to do, but you have to really understand the source of their background. Do they even remotely understand who you are and what you want to do? Do they have any experience in the space they want you to go in to or are they making suggestions because it is what they heard or feel is right for you? You need to seek out the source of who is telling you what to do.

So how can you make sense of ‘who’ you are?
• Start by self-reflecting. You need to appreciate who you are in order to understand what you are. Take time to do an inventory of things that matter to you, what do you appreciate in life, what are some of the elements of the things that engage you? You don’t need to attach a career to this but start building your foundation.
• Next, find champions and enablers. These are not people who will say things to make you happy but rather people who will help you discover ‘your’ path. They will ask you questions and open up their resources to the experts who are in the space that makes sense for you.
• Stop listening to the noise. Realize that the voices of the people around you provide a convenience and comfort but they will take you down the wrong pathway because it is their pathway.
• When someone provides you advice, they are quick to provide you a solution or answer, realize that it might not be the best. It is great to seek out insight but not advice because advice is me telling you what to do while insight is the search for the answer.
• Question the source. Don’t just take it for granted. See what their background and experience is before you embark on the pathway they are laying out. Always ask who, what, where, how, why. Challenge the noise!

Why is all this important? Ages ago, a high school counselor told me that I was not cut out for university and I should re-think my plans. Instead of listening to them, I went down a pathway that ‘I’ selected and established and they were very wrong. Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy but I am glad I did not listen to them. Now I teach university level courses so the counselor provided me the fuel to pursue my dream by telling me I couldn’t.

BTW…I am a champion and enabler so talk to me and visit

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