By Jacquelyn Brooks

To truly know yourself is one of the most important skills you can possess. Knowing your true self and who you are below the surface level, will help you in every aspect of your life. You’ll suddenly realize what it is you need to do, instead of looking for permission from others. You are able to bypass immense frustration caused by spending your time on the wrong things. And while most of us are aware the importance knowing ourselves serves us in areas of our life, such as, relationships and passion projects, knowing yourself can indefinitely benefit you in the workplace.

Work is a place to be serious and focused, but it’s also a place you should feel comfortable and at ease within your general surroundings. Being yourself is one of the most fundamental aspects of being comfortable, which is why it’s so important to identify that self. So many people feel they can’t let their true personalities show at the workplace, but that’s not entirely true. Knowing who you are can ensure you are in the right workplace to begin with. It will also lead you to be happier in your role, gain more work friends, be a better leader, and most likely lead you to advance and improve. While it’s difficult to determine what your true self is, it isn’t impossible.

4 Ways to Discover Your True Self

1. Realize who you are, not who you want to be.

We’ve all heard and probably been tempted by the “fake it until you make it” mentality and there is nothing wrong with it! Sometimes all it takes is walking the walk and talking the talk to ultimately get where you want to be in your career and life. Just don’t use it as excuse to back out from truly discovering who you are.

I used to read articles that laid out everything successful people did to ensure they are staying successful, and I thought I was required to follow these practices in order to be successful myself. Successful people wake up at 5 am, eat a big breakfast, workout first thing in the morning, etc. You know the list! But I sat down with myself one morning when I realized these habits were not helping me. They were actually making me cranky and unproductive.

Now I wake up around 7 am, when my body wakes itself up. I practice a modified intermittent fasting and don’t eat until about 1 pm because I find I’m most productive as soon as I wake up and before I eat. Learning about my body, my habits, and myself has led me to be more productive at home and at work.

2. Assess what you’re good at…and what you’re not good at.

The reality is we aren’t good at everything. You shouldn’t quit before you’ve even tried, but once you’ve been in ample time and effort into a task without succeeding, maybe it’s time to delegate that task and move onto the next. When your actions do nothing but drain you, it may be time to focus your energy elsewhere.

Your strengths will show who you are. And at work, becoming frustrated with a task better suited for someone else will prohibit you from shining in the areas your skills and talents lie. Once you give yourself permission to focus on these tasks instead, you will find you’re less stressed, and your coworkers and bosses will notice as well.

3. Decide what you’re passionate about.

Sometimes our work doesn’t fully align with what we consider to be our true passions. And that’s okay! The bills have to be paid either way. But following a passion of any kind is a good thing. If you’re following a passion regarding work, that’s great. If you’re following a passion for life, that’s also great. But finding where your passion lies is crucial in determining the best way to delegate your time. For example, I was recently applying to jobs and realized I wasn’t particularly excited about anything I was seeing. So,I sat down and jotted down a list of things I was passionate about. When I realized most of them were cause specific, I decided to focus my energies into companies that fit into those passions.

Whatever the passion is, you may need to pay more attention to it in your daily life, both at work or outside of work. Passion produces excitement and effort, and continuous effort produces amazing results.

4. Ask for feedback.

Sometimes hearing what others have to say about you is a helpful practice. Try asking your coworkers or immediate superiors the strengths they feel you need to further develop or the weaknesses you should work on. Their opinion won’t be perfect nor should it be considered definite. However, their feedback could steer you in the direction of discovering your true self and force you to ask questions about yourself you’d have skimmed over previously.

4 Questions To Ask Yourself To Help Determine Your True Self

If you’re having a difficult time deciding what your true self looks like, try starting by asking yourself these four questions:

  •  If money weren’t a factor, what would you do with your time?
  •  What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
  •  What do you do when no one is watching?
  •  If you had $100,000 to donate to a cause, who would you donate?

Of course, these are not the only questions you should ask yourself, but they are a good place to start to determine where your interests lie.