What do I want from Life? Look to your Essential and Social Self

     So it’s January again. You are probably thinking of developing goals for the upcoming year. If you are a senior in college, you are probably thinking about where to start networking for jobs. Some of you might be grappling with the issue of what do I want to do with my life? If you’ve already graduated and are in the workforce, you may be thinking “how did I end up in this job, it’s so not me!”

      How do you figure out who you are and what you want to do? Do you find yourself setting goals you can’t or won’t accomplish? It all begins with finding out who your essential self is. Your essential self is a term used by Dr. Martha Beck to describe the personality you got from your genes: your characteristic desires, preferences, emotional reactions, and involuntary psychological responses, bound together by an overall sense of identity. It’s that voice inside that tells you what you really want to do with your life. Your social self, another term from Dr. Martha Beck, is the part of you that developed in response to pressures from people around you as well as from cultural norms and expectations. The social self is based on principles that are often different than our core desires. It may tell you that your have to work for your father’s business or go into nursing because these are safe, secure options. 

     We need our social self because it is a set of skills that will enable us to complete our goals. The problem occurs when we identify solely with this part of ourselves creating a feeling that something is missing in our lives. When you find your essential self, you can accomplish your goals and be successful in a career you choose because it will be part of your core being. The key to this is creating a balance between your social and essential self. 

     I bet you’re thinking, that’s great but how do I actually do that? This is where the fun begins! You can start by thinking of some of the happiest moments in your life. Where were you? What were you doing? Then look at your best working environment: In what setting do you perform at the highest level: in groups or independently? Are you self-motivated or do you need a structured environment? What are some settings that seem to put you in a bad mood or make you feel disconnected? Think about these questions and write your answers down. Look at your choices: do they fit these core pieces of your personality?

      Highly successful people will tell you that they love their jobs; it comes from a passionate part of them. If you have a true fulfillment for your job, working 60 hours a week is pure fun. If it is not fulfilling your essential self, working 60 hours a week will feel just like that, working 60 hours.

      Still have doubts? Look at people from all professions: academic to creative. Business leaders and artists live their lives taking risks that their ideas will take off. They do this because they believe in their gut, or core, that what they are doing will contribute something great to society. To say that you can’t do what you love and be successful is denying the accomplishments of the creative workforce that is a part of our lives in the forms of music, art, and commerce. While we may not all have the same level of success, we can find ways to incorporate our true selves into what we choose as a career. And make a profit doing it! It comes down to your beliefs and if they are helping or hurting you. In upcoming blogs we will look at beliefs and their effect on our lives.

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