On Finding Your True Self

On Finding Your True Self

Finding Yourself is Necessary

Finding your true self is a quest. Although this is not a groundbreaking or novel concept, when you embark on the path of personal growth, finding yourself becomes offensively necessary. In my previous blog post Planning & Productivity for Personal Growth, I talk about how I see productivity only through the lens of my personal development. 

Based on my personal experience, productivity is nothing if there isn’t a purpose connected to the act of being productive. Chasing productivity to achieve more in less time is not a purpose in and of itself because it doesn’t guarantee you will find yourself. Productivity is not something you consume. It is a way of being that leads you to where you aspire to be. Becoming productive isn’t going to help your personal growth if you focus on the things, people, and aspects of your life that are not in alignment with who you are. In other words, you can be productive and still head in the opposite direction of where you actually envision yourself going. 

Productivity becomes everything when it’s closely tied to your personal growth. 

Your Flow Signature

I started getting interested in productivity because I was looking for more personal fulfillment. I was looking for more meaning, getting more pleasure out of my day, and deeper relationships with people. In essence, I was looking for a deeper internal relationship with myself. My purpose was not to do more in less time. It was to focus on what I align well with so I can add meaning to my relationship with myself and others. As a result, I envisioned experiencing simple fulfillment throughout the day.

That is what productivity becomes when you find your true self – experiencing fulfillment as you flow from one activity to another throughout the day. That’s it! At least that’s what productivity means to me. Not just getting shit done but getting it done with a flow that carries my signature.

Finding your true self is a conscious, intentional act. This act needs consistency and it is constant. Once you find your base, establish your foundation, you don’t stop. You pay very close attention as you build on that foundation. It’s a way of being that is not for everyone, but anyone can do it! Don’t expect it to be easy, but understand that it is very simple.  

Do You Know Who You Are?

Some think finding yourself is for the wanderers in this world, for the soft at heart, for the meek. Because why would you need to find yourself? You already know who you are! But let me tell you, decisiveness, loud presence, go-getter attitude and I got it all figured out mentality says nothing about knowing who you are. I should know! It does say a lot about who you are in front of the world, but do you know who you are? 

Who are you? How did you find yourself? How do you “find” yourself?

Most of the time finding your true self is not a conscious activity until you make the decision to make it so. As a not conscious activity (not to be confused with the unconscious), finding your true self may or may not lead to the things you align with. You may identify with a lot of the stuff in your life and you may feel strongly about it, but it may not be who you are, internally. And while you believe you know who you are because you are “set” in your way of life, you may still be the very wonderer you occasionally like to mock. This is why who you are for the world doesn’t always translate to knowing who you are, truly. 

Keep in mind: once you make the decision to truly find yourself, there will be times when you will feel like you know exactly who you are. There will also be times when you will feel like you have no idea who you are. That’s part of the quest.

My Case

My quest to finding my true self has been bumpy at times, it has taken many turns, and many times it has been a circle race. All of it has been interesting, to say the least, but it has also been necessary on my personal quest as separate from anyone else’s. Everyone’s quest is different. And what I come to share here may not be at all what you agree with. However, I hope it will still enrich your perspective and the outcomes of your own quest. Or maybe you prefer a journey? 🙂

For much of my young adult life, I have felt like I needed something else. Something deeper. A meaning, a purpose to everything I did. It was very important to me to have a reason for doing something and a deep connection to what I am doing. 

Unaddressed, this kind of longing led me to much confusion around what I wanted to do in life. This confusion transferred to an endless search for my perfect vocation.

Later on, I stumbled upon personal growth and the land of self-help literature. It’s something that piqued my interest and captured it indefinitely. My experience with self-help literature has been one long on-again and off-again relationship. But based on my experience so far, this kind of relationship is probably the best way to apply the wisdom this type of literature offers. Be careful though. There is a wrong way of doing it. I should know! …Let me explain.

The Polar Opposites

When I first dove into the topic of personal growth, I was all in. So much so that I started chasing the next big book on this topic hoping I would find yet another insight to lead me closer to finding myself.  I did this so much so that I came to a point where all the books I read started sounding the same. All the authors started sounding like they were selling the same message using different words. And all the insight I was so desperately looking for was not to be found beyond the next best-selling book title out there.

My quest for finding myself started turning into frustration. That frustration led me to the opposite extreme – away from my quest – as I decided to simply quit reading personal growth books. And I did. I stopped searching for my purpose and let purpose come to me.

The problem with this was that by coming to a complete stop on my quest, I also stopped actively doing anything about getting closer to my purpose. So I was in some kind of a twilight zone of being stuck. At first, I didn’t even recognize this because I was blinded by self-inflicted frustration. I went from trying to absorb as much as I possibly could on personal growth and use it to “fix” myself, to trying to forget it all.

Coming To My Senses

The big gap I created that I am personally responsible for is not applying aspects of what I have learned. In other words, because I didn’t find the one “fixer” for it all I didn’t give a lot of what I learned a chance to experiment and play with. So I was stuck for a long time. I had the knowledge but lacked practicing that knowledge because I was looking at my quest to finding myself as an all-or-nothing thing.

Years later I reopened this chapter of my life. I dusted off the thick layers of dust that have accumulated over the years and I gave personal growth the chance it deserved. But this time I decided not to rush through the material (the mad scientist style). This time I approached my quest to find my true self in a brand new way! A way that was not doomed to fail, rather destined to succeed! I began consuming personal growth in small, iterative batches. I began experimenting with productivity based on what I needed on the day-to-day, week-to-week.

Doing this shed off layers of doubt, confusion, preconceived notions, personal expectations, social expectations, stress, fear, and everything in-between. In turn, I gained perspective, clarity, depth, direction, and the very meaning I was so adamantly searching for! I gained the ability to experience fulfillment – experience life in a whole new way! It all led to something even more amazing. Not only did I find myself – I found gratitude!

Planning & Productivity for Personal Growth

Planning & Productivity for Personal Growth

Planning and Productivity for Personal Growth

Planning and productivity for personal growth has always been a topic I love discussing. But when it comes to productivity tools nothing quite compares to the analogue way of practicing this discipline. Nothing quite compares to that feeling of flipping through pages of your planner or notebook.

A Word on the Online Planner Community

Being naturally drawn to this topic has led me to discover a small online group of planner enthusiasts that over the last few years has grown into a rather large community. This large community has opened a pandora box that is still hard to close.

What I discovered is that online planner communities can be exciting. They can be helpful, they can be overwhelming, they can be flat out daunting if you get distracted and forget the purpose of your quest. Always keep in mind the very reason why you decided to dive deeper into this phenomena that is the planner community.

You need to be willing and able to explore some of the resources out there (there are so many), and then step away from the planner community scene all together. This is to allow yourself good amount of time to process all the information. Otherwise there is a very good chance the vortex will suck you in.

 

 

My Planning and Productivity for Personal Growth Journey

I have to say, I have always enjoyed journaling, but I was never really a “planner girl”. Created mental and written to-do lists, but I never really kept a planner per-se. In essence, what led me to planners is my interest in personal development. My connection to the planner scene is that I love all things paper, notebooks, pens, etc.

That led me to discover brands like Levenger, Kikki K, Filofax, and eventually Etsy – where everything is customizable and simply unique. This was more than enough to get me started on a path of continuous “research”. I love me some product research! And then… The planner community moved on YouTube and social media. Oh heavenly heaven of heavens! I loved it! 

Most of these sources provided typical planning systems. You know, your perpetual calendar, monthly, weekly and daily sections, important dates, additional note pages, etc. I have made multiple attempts at these planners but I just couldn’t keep up. Or should I say I wouldn’t keep up? Whatever it was it was enough to keep me going back, but not enough to stick with.

 

A Different Kind of Planning and Productivity for Personal Growth 

Then, I discovered bullet journaling. What attracted me to the bullet journal method was the cool pages I saw online people were creating and using to plan their days, weeks, months, years. But when I tried to make those rather artsy pages it wasn’t the same. It worked for a little while. Then it turned into too much work. Something that should take about 15-30 minutes to set now was claiming too much of my time. 

Meanwhile, the planner community got flooded with this planning method. So much so that the originator and designer of this planning method wrote a book about it titled The Bullet Journal Method. I found the book helpful and insightful as it clarified what a bullet journal really is meant to be used for and how to use it. However, I still struggled to keep up with this planning method. Until finally it became evident to me that it was not about any one style of planning or the tool, or the method itself. 

 

 

Needs Versus Trends 

It was about understanding what I need out of a planner as a tool to support my personal growth. My planner had to be meaningful in serving me, not just a long to-do list. And definitely not doing it for the sake of doing it! It had to serve as a single place/tool/thing for all the “stuff” in my life. Something I can reach for when I need to record my goals, write a poem, jot something down during a meeting, etc.

I needed a tool to help me keep a close eye on something I wanna capture quickly now and look into later. A tool where I can write important events and tasks that need to take place and be done. This left very little room for spending time on prettying up pages. Instead, I wanted to make sure I have enough time to focus on what’s on those pages.

 

 

The Journey Continues…

This realization led me right back to the Bullet Journaling method. But this time it was not about following the method one hundred percent as instructed. And it was no longer about creating beautiful pages that no matter how much I tried simply didn’t come out right. No, I was tired and done with that approach to Bullet Journaling. This time, it was about me on those pages. It was about the doing part of all the “stuff” in my life, not about contemplating how to express in my Bullet Journal what I want to do in real life. 

Oh, what a relief that was! To no longer torture myself with figuring out how to draw that perfect doodle or lettering style on just the right part of the page in the perfect proportion and color scheme. It felt like breaking free form some invisible chains of close mindedness. And it felt liberating. It simply felt awesome! 

Once I decided to use the Bullet Journaling method as intended, its purpose was fulfilled, which is using it to fulfill a purpose – my purpose. That’s how, I found, this method works best (at least for me). It’s not about the type of spreads created or the artistry behind some of the most beautiful spreads I’ve seen on social media. 

It’s about: how have I moved forward in my life and career using the planning and productivity tool/method of my choice? In this case the Bullet Journaling method.

 

 

What’s It All Really About?

All these productivity tools I have been searching and researching for the past two years have taught me that there isn’t a single method that is universal for everyone. We all like aspects of things. Fractions of the whole. We are a part of the same whole, but individually we are very different. It’s just that some of us pay close attention to these differences and others are not bothered by them. 

This is why in the planner community there is something called planner peace. It seems to be such a thing that everyone in the planner community struggles toward but never really achieves. Much like the struggle around achieving happiness as I describe it in my Where Does Happiness Come From blog post. Even if someone in their video states they found a planner peace with the newest, coolest tool, system, method, what have you, it’s a planner peace at the moment. 

Using the Bullet Journal method as intended will actually eliminate the concept of a “planner peace”. You simply wouldn’t need it because it will not be about the planning itself, rather about how you take steps forward in your life. 

I believe the Bullet Journal method is not supposed to be the thing in the spotlight, but rather the thing that holds the spotlight! There is a big difference there…

 

 

My Planner Peace

So after a long time of struggling with finding my own “planner peace”, I realized the only way I can speak of finding a personal planner peace is to take the time to do a thorough research of what’s out there. Take what I love from each unit and compose my own planning and productivity for personal growth flow. Then quit the research. Quit checking what everyone else is doing and instead focus on perfecting my own version of a method or a combination of methods. 

…And since achieving perfection is a no-go from the get-go, my focus is on the life improvements I get from using a method or aspects of a few methods to help me become the best version of me today, tomorrow, the next day. I hope this blog post will inspire you to do the same!