Most of us like to see ourselves as living up to our own values. For example, you might think of yourself as a person who keeps your word, or as someone who treats the ones you love with respect.
And most of us sometimes act in a way that doesn’t match our aspirations. We are, after all, human.
But when we mess up, the disappointment we feel about our own conduct can really sting. There’s no evading the reality that our actions, not our fantasies, ultimately define who we are.
If you would like to have more intentionality about how you live your life, here’s a question you can start asking yourself:
“Who do I want to be?”
Asking yourself this question leads you to pay attention to how you are handling yourself. You notice how you treat yourself and others. You cannot ignore behaviors that do not match your ideal of who you want to be.
Instead, you take responsibility for your self, determining who you want to be by shaping who you are, moment-by-moment.
Asking yourself who you want to be is not only a way to meet the standards you set for yourself. It can also help you develop greater clarity about how you want to live your life. You may find yourself wondering:
- What do I want to stand for?
- What kind of partner, parent, child, or friend do I want to be?
- What are my goals?
- What is essential for me to accomplish in my lifetime?
- How do I want to respond to the difficulties I encounter?
Challenging yourself to answer questions such as these, and challenging yourself to meet the expectations that you develop for yourself, can be extremely satisfying. I often observe that as a person develops a clear vision of whom he or she wants to be, and strives to match this ideal, self-esteem improves. I find it profound and inspiring that all of us possess this ability to increase self-worth.
Over many years of helping my clients develop a standard to which they aspire and find ways to live up to that standard, I’ve learned that these are difficult goals to achieve.
It isn’t always easy to face things about yourself that you don’t like, to recognize that you are not acting in a way that you respect. Nor is it easy to change old and familiar ways of behaving, even when you don’t like the way you are doing things. And it can sometimes be difficult to figure out how to conduct yourself in a way that has integrity for you.
But it is possible to live in accordance with your ideal vision of yourself. When you ask, “What kind of person do I want to be?”, you are beginning a process that can transform your entire life.