Education & Career Trends: ‘Know yourself’ better with these self-discovery tips!

5 min read

Edition: July 5th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

The more ground you cover through self-exploration, the more you’ll discover about yourself.(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Excerpts from article published on

Dreams, personal values, talents, even your personality traits may not always seem to matter much in the rush of daily life. But awareness of these characteristics can give you plenty of insight into your inner self.

Day-to-day priorities are important, certainly. But a life that’s nothing more than a series of going through the same motions usually doesn’t provide much enjoyment.

If you find yourself asking, “Who am I, really?” some self-discovery can help you get to know yourself a little better.

Self-discovery is a simple process of:

  • Examining your life
  • Figuring out what’s missing
  • Taking steps toward fulfilment

There’s no better time for self-exploration than the present. So, here are some tips to get started:

1. Visualise your ideal self

  • Maybe your life has gone pretty smoothly according to the guidelines received from parents, teachers, friends and others.
  • However, without a clear idea of the things that matter to you or the person you hope to become, you’ll continue living for other people instead of yourself.
  • You don’t need to begin with a complete picture but try asking yourself these questions:
  1. What do I want from life?
  2. Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10?
  3. What do I regret?
  4. What makes me proud of myself?

If you get stuck, think of a time when you felt fulfilled and happy. Consider what contributed to your happiness back then.

2. Explore your passions

  • Passions help give life purpose and make it rich and meaningful.
  • Living out your passion might involve identifying the job you really want and researching the steps necessary for a career change.
  • Keep in mind that passions don’t always have to be complex or relate to professional interests. Think about what you spend your free time doing on a day-to-day basis.
  • Taking some time to consider what you enjoy and look forward to most can help you discover ways to enrich your life.

3. Try new things

  • If you haven’t done much for yourself in a long time, you might not remember what you used to enjoy.
  • One good way to begin figuring this out is to do something new and totally different.
  • Try taking a class for it or try online tutorials. That will help you figure out whether you’d like to continue pursuing the hobby.
  • Exploring new hobbies, especially ones you’ve never tried before, can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, especially if you go for the more adventurous options. 
  • Beyond teaching you more about yourself, taking safe risks may boost your self-esteem. 

4. Evaluate your skills

  • As part of the self-discovery process, take out some time to consider your unique abilities and how you might use them.
  • If your skills are something you can picture yourself developing, why not put them into practice?
  • Using your skills hones them, which increases your confidence. Greater self-confidence, in turn, can encourage you to keep exploring these talents – along with any others you may not have noticed before!

5. Identify what you value about yourself

  • Your personal values, or the specific qualities you view as most important and meaningful, can tell you a lot about your nature.
  • These values can help illustrate the life you want to live as well as the behaviour you expect from others.
  • These values could be: Honesty, Compassion, Loyalty, Creativity, Courage, Intelligence, etc.
  • If you’ve never taken the time to explore what principles you find most valuable, making this part of your self-discovery process can have a lot of benefit.

6. Ask yourself these questions

  • When you want answers, start with a few questions.
  1. Why do I do the things I do?
  2. What drives me?
  3. What am I missing?
  4. What kind of impact do my choices have on the life I want?
  • Then, apply these questions to all areas of your life. 
  • Don’t feel like you need to come up with answers immediately, though.
  • Self-discovery takes time, and it’s most helpful to carefully consider your responses instead of grabbing at the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Above all, be honest with yourself. If you can’t come up with a good answer, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. But it does suggest that some change might help.

7. Learn something new

  • Learning works best when it’s treated as a lifelong process. 
  • If you’ve always wanted to learn more about something in particular, take the time to study it.
  • Books, manuals or online tools / apps can teach you quite a bit, especially if you’d like to develop technical skills or study historical or scientific concepts.
  • Whether you choose to take a class, learn from someone in the community, or teach yourself a new skill, expanding your knowledge is always a wise move.

8. Keep a journal

  • Picking up the habit of journaling (or blogging) can help you get back in touch with yourself and learn more about the person you’ve become.
  • A journal can help with self-reflection, but it can also serve a more practical purpose. Journaling can also help you keep track of any patterns that keep coming up in your life.
  • Learning more about unhelpful patterns can play an essential part in the self-discovery process. When you know what doesn’t work, you can begin repairing it.

9. Take help, if needed

  • When the process of self-discovery seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, counselling can provide a safe space to get some compassionate guidance.
  • You don’t need to experience mental health symptoms to benefit from professional support. Counsellors or therapists help people sort through a range of issues, including goals clarification, career changes, and identity issues.
  • Wanting to learn more about yourself may not seem like a matter significant enough for counselling, but if you feel distressed or uncertain, professional help is highly recommended.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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