Happy 2018 – Day 201 – When you don’t know who you are, decide who you’re not

A while back, I wrote about feeling found, after a lifetime of feeling lost; of not really knowing who I was. For me, the key step was leaving employment as a teacher and setting up my own educational business. I’d been beating myself up for the past decade, as to why the job just didn’t feel right; no matter how successful I was, how many kids I helped or how seemingly good I had it, my gut continued to long for something else. Having taken the steps to move into albeit terrifying self-employment, I can see that teaching was my journey, not my destination.

It’s easy to see this, with hindsight. It’s easy to forget that for the longest time, I only knew what I didn’t want, rather than what I did.

And I thought that was a failure. How could I leave a job, without knowing what I wanted? I remember the headteacher’s words when I handed in my resignation. “But what are you going to do Jo?” He spoke to me like a concerned parent – who can blame him? Because it was uncharacteristically wild and reckless to leave a steady, comfortable, good job…. for what? 

Yesterday, I heard Matthew McConaughey’s words, “If you don’t know who you are, decide who you’re not.”

It’s not always easy to really know who you are, but if you eliminate the things that just don’t sit right with your gut, one by one; then by a process of trial and error, whatever is left over, will begin to form your ‘self.’

When I resigned from that role without a job to go to, I’d come to a place in my life where I knew, absolutely, that I wasn’t going to be happy in a teaching position. I chose uncertainty, over certain unhappiness. I chose to feel alive, rather than blah.

And guess what? After working as a supply teacher and having more time to write my blogs and consider what I was actually passionate about, I developed the idea for my business. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’d spent the last decade honing my craft, whilst also unconsciously deciding what I didn’t want. The good stuff left over was what formed my new career.

The example I’ve given here relates to work and career. But this is just as valuable – if not more so – when applied to other areas of your life.

Think about the friends you keep; the food you eat; the exercise you do or don’t do; the way you treat people and so on. And ask yourself – who am I not? 

Where you find conflict between your values and lifestyle, changes need to be made.

For example, if you know that you’re not someone who lets people down, but lately your junk food habit has left you too lethargic to meet your buddy for morning jogs, then you’re going to need to either cut the junk food, or find a way to not let it stop you running. That way, you’ll avoid letting your friend down. Plus, you might even begin to draw some conclusions about the kind of fit, reliable and determined kind of person that you are.

Do you know who you’re not? Does your lifestyle reflect this? Comments welcome:

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