If the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s that we shouldn’t take our lives for granted. That said, lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing have left us all exhausted. And the fatigue of just “getting through” another day makes it difficult to figure out who we are and what we want from life.
All the more reason, then, to make 2022 the year of self-discovery. The pandemic forced us to pare back our lives but it shouldn’t stop us from engaging with goals and chasing our dreams. And the first step towards that is understanding our values, talents and how we see ourselves. It’s about becoming both self-aware and self-determined so that we can discover our purpose on this winding path of life.
So, if you want to start your journey of self-discovery in 2022, here are 5 simple steps to help you.
Step #1: Journal
Journaling is a powerful tool to help you gain clarity when your mind feels cluttered and your emotions are at sea. More than just scribbling down the events of your day, writing out what you’re feeling or thinking at a given time, can help you work through and process what’s going on in your life and give you a sense of control.
If you feel unheard by others around you, your journal can be the place where you get to vent your voice and speak freely and honestly about what you want out of life. It can be a safe and exciting space where you write down your dreams and decide on the route to take to realise them.
Committing to a regular journaling habit throughout 2022 can also help you keep tabs on the progress you’re making on discovering who you are and what you want.
Step #2: Get scared
The last few years have been tough. No doubt about it. But it’s easy to use that as an excuse to stay put. So many of us are so used to our work-a-day tasks being our only tasks, that we’ve stopped trying new things or even believing it’s possible.
But here’s the problem with that – Growth happens when we strike out from our comfort zones. We become more curious and confident, which can lead to new opportunities and realisations about ourselves.
And while we don’t always succeed in whatever new venture we’re straddling, we do learn. And learning something new about our skills, our environment, or who we fundamentally are is a critical step on the journey of self-discovery.
So, think of something you’ve always wanted to do but were too scared to try it – and make 2022 the year that you do it. Whether that’s rock climbing, going to a retreat, organizing your finances or even giving up alcohol, embracing something scary and seeing it through will help you become emotionally and mentally more able, braver and better acquainted with your real, undiscovered self.
Step #3: Uncover your personality
A fun and fascinating way to understand your traits and talents is psychometric or personality testing. Known as self-discovery tools, these tests can help you identify your skills, values, principles and strengths (as well as weaknesses).
The insights you gain from these assessments can uncover things you never knew about yourself and help you to move forward in creating a more balanced or joyful life.
For example, say you discovered through psychometric testing that you tend to put others’ needs before your own. While caring for others is a great quality to have, if it means you end up neglecting your own needs as a result, then you now have the awareness to do something about it. You can become more conscious in scheduling time for yourself, which, in turn, is likely to open you up to new possibilities within your life.
Step #4: Take a sabbatical
Now that the majority of cities and countries have opened up again, travel is back on the agenda. One fabulous way to discover more about yourself is to go on a physical journey.
Take a sabbatical from work and regular life and hit the road to a place that really interests you. Love art? Go to Florence. Fancy learning to surf? Sign up for a surf school and hit the waves in Portugal. Whatever your particular cup of cocoa, take time out for a long and leisurely sip.
If you need some spiritual succour, you could go on a holy pilgrimage. Or make your own pilgrim path by planning a trek and then setting a private intention at the beginning of your journey.
Studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices typically make people happier and healthier, with over half the religious participants in a global survey carried out by Pew Research describing themselves as “very happy”. What’s this got to do with self-discovery? Well, further studies have shown a greater correlation between happiness and self-awareness.
Step #5: Spend time alone
Of course, you don’t have to travel if you want to deepen your spiritual practice. Spending time alone to meditate, pray, or connect with nature can be a way of cultivating a spiritual discipline that can help on your journey of self-discovery.
And whether you’re spiritual or not, the act of spending time alone can be wholly beneficial in helping you to gain insight into who you are and what you want.
People often fear being on their own. But there’s a difference between spending time with yourself and being lonely. Time spent in “active solitude”, whether it’s reading, thinking, or doing something else creative, can help us reflect on our lives and recharge if we’re feeling stressed or burnt out. These are moments of an unstructured, safe space when our minds can go wandering and lead us to new ideas and information about ourselves.
So plan some time in 2022 to go to a café and have tea by yourself. Take a walk in the park. Or better yet, pencil in an hour or two each week when partners, family and friends are prohibited from bothering you. Because, believe me, on your journey of self-discovery spending time with only yourself, will definitely be time well-spent.