We focus on the negative aspects of ourselves, those things we want to change, rather than the positive aspects. We may say something like, ?I wish I didn?t eat so much? or ?I wish I had Audrey Hepburn?s sense of style.? In this article, I am going to walk you through a couple of exercises that I hope will be eye-opening for you and give you a better idea of how to become the person you want to be.
Find Role Models.
Make a list of at least 30 people, real or fictional (characters from books, movies, theater, TV, etc.) that you admire. Write them down quickly and without editing. They might be a teacher, a character from one of your favorite books, a relative, friend, an acquaintance, athlete, spiritual leader or entertainer. After you have made your initial list, put it aside and let it percolate. As new names come to mind, add them to the list.
We all need role models in our lives. Part of the need for role models is for the inspiration value?they help us draw out the very best of ourselves. But we also need role models because much of our learning in life is done by observing others and then trying out the behaviors for ourselves. If we are fortunate, we have direct contact with our role models and they can mentor and guide us as we develop into the people we want to be.
The list of people you admire are the people who are your role models. As you go about your day, ask yourself what a particular person would do in that particular situation. This strategy has helped me tremendously when I am unsure of how to proceed in a situation or if I bungled something and want to learn how to avoid making the same mistake again. For example, Leonardo da Vinci is one of my role models. Whenever I am stuck on a problem, I remember that he encouraged people to examine things from multiple perspectives. Once I get out of my tunnel vision and look at the problem from a different viewpoint, a solution usually presents itself. My paternal grandmother is another one of my role models. She seemed to ?have it all??a strong faith, loving family, and career (and an immaculate home!). There are many overwhelming days when I want to collapse onto the floor and lie in a fetal position but then I think about my grandmother and all that she endured in life and I find the inner strength to do what I need to do. Who are your role models?
Take your role model list and make two columns. In the first column, write the names of your role models. In the second column, write the reason you admire them?what traits do they possess? For example, for my grandmother, I would describe her as spiritual, grounded, fun, organized, giving, open, curious, intelligent, satisfied with living simply, loving, determined, kind, doting, etc. A couple of traits that I admire in my husband would be loving, amazingly creative, funny/fun, sincere, generous, intelligent, and so forth. As you did with the first list, set it aside and let it percolate (and it will!). As new traits come to mind, add them to the list.
The next step is to make a list of the traits that you have listed. Put tally marks after traits that occur more than once. You will start to see a pattern developing. These traits are the ones you want to possess. The more often it is listed, the more strongly you want to have these traits. Reviewing this list will give you a better idea of who you want to be, how you want others to view you. Who do you want to be?
What Traits You Possess
Take the list of traits you developed in the second exercise. This is where the real self-examination starts. Reviewing the list, ask yourself objectively which ones you currently possess. You may be startled to discover that you already have many of the traits! If you are really serious about wanting to be the person you want to be, ask a trusted friend or family member to highlight the traits on the list that s/he believes you possess. Hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that you are closer to being the person you want to be than you thought. The traits that are not highlighted are now your roadmap?you now know what traits you need to focus on in order to develop them. Who are you now? And, what do you need to develop to become who you want to be?
A final word:
There is an old proverb that says that birds of a feather flock together. The value this proverb has for the exercises you have just completed is that if the people you spend most of your time with do not have the traits you want to develop within you, then it will be very difficult to grow into the desired traits. This is also true of the things we watch or read. For instance, if you want to lose weight and all you do with your friends is go out to eat, then you are not going to lose weight. Also, if you belong to a weight loss ?support group? on the Internet and all people do is complain about how hard it is to eat right and how they went off of their meal plan, then, again, it is going to be hard to lose weight. However, if you are part of a group that holds each other accountable for letting themselves down for overeating, then you will lose weight. Do you want to be like the people you hang around with or watch on television or in the movies? Is it time to move on to a group or source of entertainment that has a better fit with who you want to be?