Have you ever wondered who you could be if you weren’t yourself or what the possibilities would be?
Four years ago, I started my development journey, and up until recently, I have known nothing but confusion, struggle, and perhaps some adolescent angst.
As with many such things, it began on the day when everything I thought I knew was stripped away. I was left frightened, alone, and without direction. It turned out to be the most important day of my life: it was the beginning of me finding my new identity.
However, whilst this is true, I do not recommend doing it the same way I did—it is needlessly painful and confusing and stressful.
There are easier methods, and here is my recommended step-by-step plan:
1. Acknowledge that your current you is not who you want to be.
Step one is to acknowledge what you want to change, to be aware that change is necessary, and to accept that you are not content with the way you decorated the proverbial Christmas tree. This can be done in any way that is comfortable and empowering for you.
Feel it, say it aloud, or write it down. It does not matter how you do this step and how long it takes you. This is for you, not for anyone else.
2. Decide on what doesn’t serve you anymore.
This step is twofold. The first part is to write down all the aspects of your life that do not help you be who you want to be—these can be habits, aspects of your personality, and even objects. I would advise you to make three columns: does not serve me, neutral, and serves me, and to write in them until you cannot write anymore. This may take a couple of days or even weeks, but like I said before, time is not of the essence. It is for you.
The second part of the step is to reorder the list into one long column. The closer to the top, the more the item on the list serves you, and the lower, the more it doesn’t serve you. Be honest, be patient, and add where necessary. If an item feels particularly big or made up out of multiple smaller parts, split them. It will make the third step easier.
Note: Even though the list is a highly personal thing, sharing it with other people and showing what you are working on gives a sense of comfort. It might be scary at first, but it is worth it.
3. Gradually strip away what doesn’t serve you anymore and build your strengths.
The first part of the third step is to get rid of what you can get rid of, one thing at a time. Start at the bottom and work on the item until it is gone from your life in a way you are content with or until you feel something else is serving you less than the said item.
This can be done by physically removing an object, quitting a poor habit, or actively working against a part of your personality you do not like. It can even be letting go of emotions and memories that haunt you. You must do this in your own way, but that does not mean that you cannot ask for help. This part of the step is by far the longest, and it may take you years or even a lifetime to fully complete. That is okay, though. Rome was not built in one day, and neither should the new you be.
As you remove things, you need to replace them. For instance, quitting a bad habit usually results in making a better habit in its stead. These should be added to the list as they come along. The list is not a dead thing. It is a living, ever-changing thing. The list in a way is your conscious identity that’s manifested on a page—it is brutal, honest, and gorgeous.
This step is not only about removing your weaknesses where applicable, but also on building your strengths and on enhancing what does serve you. If you, for example, have a loving relationship with your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, or wife, and want to make it even more beautiful, you may want to give it a little more attention as you try and get rid of that smoking habit.
To focus on something positive while removing a negative one makes it an awful lot easier and more fun. After all, its positive effect will serve as a reward for getting rid of that negative thing.
4. Rinse and repeat.
If you have completed step three, your problems have made way for better problems, because a life without problems simply doesn’t exist. However, that does not mean that the growth is over. Simply edit your current list and prioritize where necessary before continuing down your gorgeous road of self-discovery and growth.
I promise, the longer you do it, the better it gets.