Twenty years ago I went on a trip of a lifetime. Little did I know that in six short months I’d gain a lifelong friend, see the country and learn a lesson that would serve me for the rest of my life, figuring out who you are.
My friend and I were both working at TGI Fridays and decided to take advantage of a program they called Passport. This program would let you travel the country and work at any TGI Fridays location. You could stay one day, a week or longer. We met a lot of really great people. Strangers invited us into their homes, fed us and made us a part of their lives. Everyone we met in this country was nice to us. It was comforting.
Then something happened. We started to feel free. As homesickness began to fade, we grew comfortable with the uncomfortable. We became resourceful. If we needed money we worked. If we didn’t like a city, we left. Our choices became final. Always moving forward and never looking back. Returning from our trip we were renewed, older, different. Our confidence was interpreted as arrogance by some. We were really more decisive. Our lives had become clear.
As I got older, married and became a father, it became evident that many of the decisions I made were influenced by that period of my life. When telling others the story of that trip it finally occurred to me that, during that trip was when I found out who I was. Figuring out who you are changes everything from how you think, to the job you pick and even the people you choose to spend time with. It literally is the foundation of your existence.
Why would you want to figure out who you are?
1. Be in control of your life – The decisions you make are yours and not because someone else expected or wanted you to.
2. Sleep well – Many of us don’t sleep well because of the stress in our lives. When you are in more control of the decisions you make, you sleep much better not worrying about things that are out of your control.
3. Be happy - Following the path in your life that you choose is extremely satisfying. When you are living the life you want to live, you are so much happier.
How to find out if you don’t know who you are:
1. Do you frequently find yourself in situations you don’t want to be in?
2. Is making decisions difficult for you?
3. Are you happy?
Here are the steps to figure out who you are:
1. Start with what you don’t like – Ask anyone what they want and they’ll “hem and haw,” but ask them what they don’t like and you will get an earful. If you start making a list of what you don’t like, chances are you’ll see how petty some of that stuff is and in the process start to realize what you do like.
2. Get comfortable saying no – Life is busy. Between friends, family, work and children we have little time to take care of ourselves and what’s important in our lives. You don’t always have to participate and saying no to something you really don’t want to do is incredibly liberating. Saying no isn’t just about participating, it’s also about saying no to people and work that you don’t want to be involved with.
3. If it feels weird, it’s weird – This is a saying that my brother says and it is very true. Really try to get in touch with your gut feelings and then have the discipline to act. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not a good idea to get involved.
Now figuring out who you are doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks, be anti-social or enjoy your life. If fact, the opposite should happen. You should be able to experience life more fully, because you know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it. You now know who you are!