Those of you who are friends with me – on Facebook or in real life – know that early in the year I chose “Be Yourself, But Be Your Best Self” as my motto for 2017. Now, as the year is rapidly nearing its end, I would like to look back and ask – what did it really mean to be myself and why has it been important to me.
Each of us has a unique relationship with ourselves, and being ourselves or being true to ourselves could mean different things to different people. To me, it’s about fully accepting who you are, being honest with yourself and being honest with others about your feelings, your values, and your heart’s desires. At the same time, being yourself does not mean vocalizing every random thought that pops into your head without giving much thought to whether it’s going to help anyone, including you. And being true to yourself definitely doesn’t mean resting on your laurels, and stubbornly sticking to every old habit you have, including the habits that do not serve you.
What happens when we don’t stay true to ourselves? When we forget who we truly are, we start living by someone else’s agendas, stay stuck in uninspiring jobs and unfulfilling relationships, and we don’t get to come near realizing our full potential. And, to be blunt, living that kind of life, is like carrying around a burden – it takes away from our livelihood. It may not occur to you as such while you are going through the motions. But when I actually started focusing on what I really loved and wanted to do both in my professional and personal life, a new kind of living presented itself.
And what about the second part of the motto – being your best self? That part is about constantly working on a further evolved, improved version of you. And the only way to get there is through investing in yourself. Depending on where you are at in your life, investing in yourself could come in different ways. It could be investing in your health, fitness or improved lifestyle, it could be furthering your formal education or signing up for personal development courses, it could be gaining new hands-on skills, reading books, growing your talents, taking on new hobbies and helping others to succeed with their goals. The way I see it, an integral part of investing in yourself is about surrounding yourself with high-quality people. Remember that we are the average of five people we spend most of our time with. So focus on the important relationships in your life and improve the quality of those relationships.
“Relationships that are worth investing in, make you the best version of you”, says Ronna Lichtenberg, the author of “It’s not Business, It’s Personal”, a book on 9 relationship principles that power your career. She goes on to describe two ways you can go about spending time on those relationships that are important to you. The first method would be right for you if you are the kind of person who believes that everyone who asks for a chunk of your time is entitled to it. These are the people who sign up for every committee, take upon themselves every role in the workplace and always agree to go “have drinks after work”. In that case, Ronna Lichtenberg suggests that you work on your skill to say “no” in order to make enough room for saying “yes”.
If you are, on the other hand, someone who is heavily task-oriented and not people-orientated, then for you, Ronna suggests, investing in yourself means choosing to pursue relationships. And for those most highly organized individuals who would like to bring structure and purpose to the task of relationship building, she suggests choosing a charity to commit to in a serious way. Supporting a cause you believe in is the best opportunity to get to know other people and see their values in action.
I fully agree that developing meaningful relationships is the key to success in every aspect of our life and is especially integral to the process of evolving into our best self. And the most important relationship on this journey is the one we each have with ourselves. A part of it is to notice any feelings of resignation, discontentment or dissatisfaction before they grow out of proportion. Another part is to find the courage to admit to yourself about your shortcomings and areas for improvement. And of course, never forget to take the time to celebrate successes and to pat yourself on the back for the job well done.
What have you done this past year to grow into your better self? Or maybe your 2017 motto has been something entirely different? Please share, as I would love to hear what inspires you and what you aspire to.