Who are you? What are you good at? What do you find important? Who do you want to be?
All questions that are easy to ask but incredibly hard to answer. It can take years, decades and even a lifetime to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life.
So, good luck! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in the next article.
Of course we’re joking. While the point made above does hold, we wouldn’t be BeMore if we didn’t try our hardest to help you guide your efforts in this process, and maybe even fast-track some of the steps you need to take.
This article will do exactly that: we take a deep dive into your identity to find out how you can tie all of the lessons from the previous articles together with who you truly are, allowing you to tap into an incredibly vast amount of willpower and energy.
Let’s get started.
Finding out who you are
Finding out who you are requires consistent reflection, thought and consideration over a prolonged period of time. Just as with scientific research, you can’t generalize to an entire population (i.e. your true self) if you’ve only observed a small amount of that population (i.e. your behaviour some days). In other words: if you want to find out who you are you need to observe yourself for a longer time period and see what consistencies you find.
To help you guide your efforts in this journey we’ve identified the three most important elements of your identity in regards to productivity that you can pay attention to. These are:
Your core values
We’ll discuss all three of these elements separately and will give you useful tools that can help you fast-track the process.
Let’s start with your personality. What characteristics define you?
What personality type am I?
Your personality is defined as ‘’the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors’’. Personality research is aimed at helping you understand how you tend to interact with your environment; How do you tend to behave? What thoughts do you tend to have? What types of emotions do you tend to feel?
One of the most well-known distinctions in personality was defined by Carl Jung as introversion vs. extraversion. Jung hypothesized that introverts tend to be more reserved, thoughtful and calm while extraverted people tend to be more outgoing, energetic and sociable. Knowing if you lean more towards one or the other can help you shape your life in a way that matches more closely to the type of person you are.
But, while useful, the introversion vs. extraversion distinction is only a small step into the territory of personality research. Since Jung first proposed this way of looking at personality differences many, many other personality tests have been developed. All of these tests are aimed at figuring out what kind of person you are. Some general, others more specific.
Below we’ll discuss two tests that have a lot of research behind them and that can help you map the person you are.
Note: Never limit your behaviour and/or ambitions on the basis of personality tests. The results should serve you, not restrict you.
Big Five Personality Traits
The Big Five is a way of describing a person by placing them on a 100 point scale across 5 dimensions. These dimensions arose when a large body of people were examined in search of ‘universal’ traits that every person would have. This research led to the following dimensions:
Openness to experience (curious vs. cautious)
Openness is defined as a general appreciation for art, imagination, emotion and variety in experience. People that score high on this dimension tend to be more creative and aware of their feelings than people that score low on this dimension. People that score lower on this dimension tend to be more pragmatic and perseverant.
Conscientiousness (efficient vs. extravagant)
Conscientiousness is defined as the tendency to display self-discipline and strive for achievement against measures or outside expectations. People that score high on this dimension tend to be better at regulating and directing their impulses. People that score low on this dimension tend to be more flexible and spontaneous.
Extraversion (outgoing vs. reserved)
Extraversion is characterized by a tendency to appreciate breadth of activities over depth of activities (which is more common among introverts). People that score high in this dimension tend to enjoy interacting with people and are often seen as very outgoing. People that score low on this dimension are often more reserved and independent of their social worlds.
Agreeableness (friendly vs. challenging)
Agreeableness is defined as an elevated optimism and general concern for social harmony. People that score high on this dimension are usually considerate, trustworthy and willing to compromise for the sake of balance and harmony. People that score low on this dimension are often more challenging and competitive and tend to place self-interest above getting along with others.
Neuroticism (sensitive vs. resilient)
Neuroticism is defined as the tendency to experience more negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression. People that score high on this dimension tend to be more vulnerable to stress and are more flippant in their emotional state. People that score low on this dimension tend to be less emotionally reactive and are not as easily upset.
Knowing where you stand among these dimensions can help you figure out what kind of work or goals are a good match with the type of person you are.
While diving into all the possible combinations is beyond the scope of this article, there are some interesting observations that can be made.
For example, people that are more agreeable are often attracted to professions that are caring in nature, like healthcare, teaching or psychology. People that are more extraverted are more often attracted to professions and activities where you can spend time with other people, like sales or project-management. People that are more conscientious tend to perform well in environments where structure pays off, like academics or business.
Another valuable personality test is the Myers-Briggs personality test.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers-Briggs personality test is another test that uses some of the works of Carl Jung (turns out he was pretty smart). In his works he proposed that people experience the world using four principal functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. Each of these functions has two categories, which are
Jung proposed that for each of the functions a person has a dominant category. By completing an introspective questionnaire you can find out what your dominant category is for each of the functions. The first letter of each of the functions gives you a 4 letter combination (e.g. INTP, ESFJ, ENFJ). Each of the 16 combinations has a ‘persona’ attached to it that can help shape your understanding of your personality. For example, the combination INTP is characterised as a logician; an innovative inventor with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Or the ESFJ, which is characterised as a consul; someone that is extraordinarily caring, social and eager to help.
If you are interested in figuring out what your combination is, you can take the free MBTI test at www.16personalities.com.
Once you’ve got a grasp on the kind of person you are, it's time to figure out what you’re good at (and also what you suck at!). Knowing this can make it much easier to figure out what challenges are most suitable to you and when you might excel.
One way to do this is by making a competency map.
Competency mapping is often done in business-settings by HR employees to find the right employees for a job. Because jobs are different and have different demands, different competencies will have more or less overlap with the job. Finding candidates that possess the right competencies for the job is incredibly valuable.
But, the practice of competency mapping doesn’t have to be limited to HR employees. By using this technique on yourself you can reverse engineer the process; given my competencies, what kind of tasks, projects, careers or jobs would have large fit/overlap? Knowing this can increase the odds that you end up pursuing the things that you’re actually good at and that bring you joy.
Competency mapping is often done by answering an introspective questionnaire. Depending on the answers you are given a score for certain competencies; you might score high on teamwork but low on self-discipline. After finishing the questionnaire you are often presented with a spider graph (see below) in which you can see the score you obtained for different competencies.
The results from this graph helps you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You can use this information when making decisions for selecting careers, jobs, projects or activities to pursue; you’ll get more done when you’re doing something that fits your competencies.
The last step, after mapping your personality and your competencies, is figuring out what your core values are. Your core values serve as the guiding system for all the things you do, feel and think. Taking them into account when you face decisions in life can greatly increase the odds of finding meaning in what you do and using that drive to stay productive on the long term.
While figuring out what your core values are is not easy, gaining insight into the values that you hold and stand by can be of tremendous value. Not only is it a powerful source of energy for long-term productivity, it also increases the odds that you pursue things that you actually find meaningful. Why finding meaning in what you do is so important is beautifully elaborated on in the book Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl.
Value mapping is often done by presenting someone with a large list of commonly held values. The objective is to reduce this large list (sometimes 100+) of values to a handful of values(3-5) that truly resonate with you. These values are the things that you stand by, that you find important and that feel like an inseparable part of who you are.
Below is a list of values that could be presented.
The task of reducing the large list of values to those that truly resonate is often experienced as very difficult. However, there is a trick you can apply to make it easier to figure out: set a very short (45s) timer for yourself to select 6-7 core values. This forces you to make snap-judgements that aren’t based on rational consideration but on gut feeling. Doing this allows you to turn off the mind, only for a short while, and focus on which of the values ‘feel’ right.
Done? Alright. Now set another timer for 15s and reduce your core values to a maximum of 5.
Once you’ve got your final values down you can take some time to reflect on them. Why do you think these values resonated? What does this value mean to you? Where do you think this value originates? How could you incorporate this value into your life? Are the things you’re doing now in line with the values that you ended up with?
Engaging in things that have a high overlap with your personal values can offer a tremendous amount of energy, passion and meaning for the work that you do.
Finding out who you are and what you find important is a daunting task, but one you should never avoid. Being able to paint a clearer picture of your personality, competencies and deeply held values will allow you to guide your efforts towards things that actually matter to you. This opens up a very consistent source of meaning, excitement, discipline and therefore consistent productive output towards a goal that is valuable to you.
The tools and methods that we highlighted in this article can be of help in the process. We hope they provide you with insights and knowledge about your inner workings so you can start pursuing those things that truly matter to you.