Are you struggling with a big decision? Or, maybe you’re just feeling stagnant, not sure which way to turn?
It’s unsettling not to know. It can be draining and frustrating.
The answer isn’t in thinking about it more. It’s not talking with yet another person about what to do.
The answer is within you.
We struggle with a decision because we don’t know ourselves. It’s not about what others think, as much as it’s about what is right for you. But, too often, we don’t know what’s right. We don’t know ourselves.
One of my favorite exercises for getting to know ourselves is looking at previous accomplishments. And, not just recent accomplishments. This is a fun and rewarding exercise that incorporates childhood successes.
I have used this exercise over and over with myself and with others. Light bulbs are switched on and ‘aha’ moments occur. Ultimately, others begin to understand themselves at a deeper level – making it easier to make decisions that are right for them.
The beauty of this exercise is that it focuses on accomplishments from your perspective, not someone else’s. Understanding what we feel is an accomplishment is important when it comes to knowing ourselves.
Divide your life into three age groups
Take your age and divide by 3.
It’s best to do this on paper or digitally – whichever works best for you.
Use one piece of paper for each age group.
At the top of each paper, write the age group. For example, if you are 40 years old, you will have one sheet for 1-13 years old, another sheet for 14-26 years old, and the third sheet for 27-40 years old.
List Your Accomplishments in Each Group
Make two columns on each paper. One labeled ‘The Experience’ and the 2nd column labeled ‘The Reason’.
In the first column, share about the experience that felt like an accomplishment. How old were you? What exactly was the accomplishment? Set the scene for us. Who was involved or who was there? Where were you?
List why it was an accomplishment for you
In the 2nd column, explain why it felt like an accomplishment.
- Did it have to do with the people involved, what they said?
- Did it have to do with how they made you feel?
- Were you helping others, or creating something?
- Did you receive recognition or a monetary reward?
- What made the situation feel like it was an accomplishment?
Work through your three different age groups, writing down your accomplishments and the reasons they felt like accomplishments.
One of the things I really like about this exercise is that it can bring back those childhood moments before responsibility, bills, and family began to cover up who we really are.
Look for Patterns
The next step is to go back and look for patterns. Look for patterns in the reasons why you felt these various scenarios throughout your whole life felt like accomplishments. As you review your reasons, you’ll begin to see patterns. These patterns reflect your values, what’s important to you, and what motivates you.
Each of us have our own unique triggers that make a situation feel successful. This exercise helps define those triggers for you.
Let the patterns that you just discovered about yourself guide you.
If you are facing a decision, how do your options align with what’s important to you? Which options best align with who you are? Will the option provide the venue for you to feel like you can succeed? Or, maybe you’ll realize that the options won’t provide you what you need to feel successful.
Are you feeling stagnant because what motivates you is not a part of the picture? As you look at your past accomplishments, you realize that what feels like an accomplishment for you hasn’t been a part of the picture for a long time. It’s time for a change.
Sometimes it’s not so much about having the answers as it is just becoming aware of why we are feeling the way we are. The answers will come later. First, we need to understand what’s behind the frustration or stagnation. This exercise helps reveal that and guides us to the next steps.