In 2015, I was incredibly miserable thanks to a dead-end, soul-crushing job.
I worked in corporate finance at the time. And despite good pay, great benefits, and surprising flexibility, I despised it. The work wasn’t challenging, the leaders weren’t inspiring, and the opportunities for growth (or even change) felt non-existent.
It was a suffocating place to be, and I was desperate to escape.
But with my blurry vision of the future and an incredibly limited perspective, I could only come up with one solution; find a new job — an idea which was unappealing at best.
The last thing I wanted was another meaningless position doing work that didn’t matter. What I wanted was to do work that I enjoyed. Work that injected creativity and purpose into my life.
But unfortunately, I had no idea how to make what I wanted, my reality. I was clueless as to how to get from where I was now, to where I wanted to be.
I was stuck.
Coach yourself to spark purposeful change
Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. – Carol Burnett
I think it’s fair to say that 2015 was my version of a quarter-life crisis.
Uncertainty and hopelessness had stripped away my optimism and were obstructing any vision I had for my future. It was impossible to see a clear path forward.
For some people, this is precisely where a life coach would’ve come in handy. But considering I prefer to solve my own problems (and the fact that I didn’t know what a life coach was back then), it wasn’t an option I entertained.
Instead, I decided to coach myself. And from my experience, it turned out to be a surprisingly simple solution to getting unstuck.
So, whether you want to change careers, start a business, build better habits, or develop your skills, strengths, and relationships to help you flourish, rest assured that YOU have the power to make that transformation happen.
I believe that with some strategic self-coaching (and a strong commitment to change), you can unstick yourself — you just need a place to start.
Which is exactly what I have for you today.
Self-Coaching 101: How a shift in perspective can unlock a whole new world
Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are – our reality, and maps of the way things should be – our values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. – Stephen Covey
If you want to change your situation, you first have to change yourself.
And to change ourselves effectively, we first have to change the way we see the world – not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in how we perceive, understand, and interpret our reality.
Our mental maps are the frame of reference by which we navigate the world. And more often than not, they have been shaped by outside influences, rather than internal ones, which is what we need to change.
To get unstuck, we need to be able to redraw the mental maps inside our head; to look at the world through a new lens. Because without this vital shift in perspective, we will merely retrace the same steps that got us stuck before.
By developing a new set of mental maps your understanding of what’s possible grows, and your life will begin to change for the better, all by itself.
- So how do we make this shift?
- How can we begin to redefine how we see the world?
- How can we strip ourselves of our preconditioned paradigms and look at our lives in a new and more hopeful light?
The answer: we start by getting to know ourselves better.
Know Yourself: A simple first step to getting unstuck and moving forward with purpose
The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates
Self-discovery is a surprisingly simple first step for creating lasting change.
When we understand ourselves on a deeper level, we can tweak situations to boost our chances of success and can begin to adapt our circumstances to suit us.
By cultivating self-awareness, you can redraw the maps inside your head and begin to build a happier life based on the foundation of your own nature, your own interests, and your own values.
Through self-discovery, you can begin to use your time more productively, make better decisions, suffer less stress, get healthier, and engage more effectively with other people.
Self-discovery is your springboard to a more fulfilling life.
11 illuminating ways to use self-discovery to spark curiosity, creativity, and confidence
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. – Carl Rogers
You have the power to effect positive change in your life. We can all redesign our mental maps and create new programs for ourselves, which are entirely apart from our preconditioned instincts and training.
By taking deliberate steps to discover more about yourself, what influences you and the way you see the world, you can transform your circumstances and considerably improve your current situation.
People are always blaming circumstance for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. – George Bernard Shaw
Below are eleven ways that your can spark more curiosity, creativity and confidence in your life. These tried and tested techniques will allow you to begin your own journey of self-discovery and start cultivating deeper self-awareness.
I’ve also included some simple action steps that will help you get started with each idea and help pull you out of whatever rut you might be in right now.
Let’s dive in.
1. Gain powerful insight into your character
As you live your values; your sense of identity, integrity, control and inner-directedness will infuse you with exhilaration and peace. – Stephen Covey
Your character is the sum of all the qualities that make you who you are; your values, your thoughts, your words and your actions.
A fulfilling life is built around what matters to you, not on what others tell you to do. And gaining insight into who you are, allows you live by your own compass, rather than other people’s guidelines.
- Get instant insight into your personality with this quick test
- Peruse this list of core values and pick a few that deeply resonate with you
- Begin to let your personal values drive your choices
2. Uncover and exercise your strengths
The happiest, healthiest, most productive people have figured out how to harness their strengths, counteract their weakness and build lives that work for them. – Gretchen Rubin
When you work towards polishing and deploying your strengths, you can then use them to buffer against your weaknesses and the trials that weakness brings.
As a result, you will begin to experience more authentic positive emotions in your life such as; pride, satisfaction, joy, fulfilment, and harmony.
- Take a free Strengths Survey (you need to register first)
- Discover some simple ways to unlock your unique advantage
- Incorporate your strengths into your everyday life
3. Get curious and explore your interests
Following our curiosity instead of our passion is the real key to an interesting and creative life. – Elizabeth Gilbert
You have to be curious about the world in which you live.
Without curiosity, you will never be able to uncover a different path to the one you are on now. Allowing your interests to guide you is what will expose you to new opportunities and help you discover exciting possibilities that weren’t visible before.
- Stoke your curiosity. Dive into the topics that excite you, look things up, chase down every reference, go deeper than anybody else. Do your research
- Answer these questions to expose your interests and passions and make exploring them your next fun project
4. Get clear on what you do and don’t want
When we don’t get what we want, it’s either because we haven’t yet found a way or it’s just taking more time than we want it to. – Michael Neill
Most people are out of touch with their wants and their dreams.
And when this happens, the place to begin is with some simple exploration of all the obvious and not-so-obvious dreams and desires that fuel both our occasional discontent with where we are and our hopes and expectations of the future.
- Ask yourself: Who do you envy? Envy is a helpful emotion because it tells you that somebody has something that you wish that you had yourself. And a lot of times, once you acknowledge that truth to yourself you can take steps to get it.
- Make two lists. Label the first “Things that energise me” and label the second, “Things that drain me”. Over the course of the next week, fill in the two lists to the best of your ability. See if you can come up with at least ten items on each one.
- Look for opportunities to do more of the things on your “energizer” list and to eliminate, avoid or reduce the amount of time spent on your “energy drain” list.
5. What’s the worst that could happen?
Named must your fear be before banish it you can. – Yoda
When we face periods of change and transition, many of our insecurities, fears and doubts raise their ugly heads and stop us from getting what we want.
But they don’t have to.
An idea that I picked up based on Stoic philosophy is to carefully consider the worst case scenario so you can be ready for it.
By becoming familiar with the worst case scenario, you decrease your emotional reactivity and begin to melt the fear holding you back.
- Consider a goal you want to achieve but haven’t gotten started on yet. The one that feels impossible and has you the most stuck.
- Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Think about whether these things are really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?
- Next, consider what steps you could take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?
6. Upgrade your skills and learn how to learn
By working on knowledge, skills and desire, we can break through to new levels of personal and interpersonal effectiveness as we break with old paradigms that may have been a source of pseudo-security for years. – Stephen Covey
Motivate yourself to upgrade your knowledge, skills and desire.
Self-directed learning means you don’t have to study the things that you hate or that you find boring. Instead, you get to learn about the things you’re actually interested in.
When you find something that excites you, that motivates you to dive deeper into your understanding of it, that’s where you should focus your time, energy and attention (and I promise, it will be remarkably more fun than school ever was!)
- Use the interests you explored earlier as a place to begin your study and practice. Start Googling. Start asking questions
- Find out how you like to learn so you can enjoy the process more
- Adopt the method of just in time learning, not “just in case”
7. Build better habits
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
Whatever your present situation, there is always a way to improve.
You can replace old patterns of self-deprecating behaviour with new habits which create new effectiveness, more happiness and help you build valuable, trust-based relationships.
- Review some of the previous suggestions in this list to figure out what you want and what you need to learn to make it happen
- Take this quiz to see how you meet inner and outer expectations in your life (and understand why you might have failed with habit development previously)
- Begin a daily practice of a specific skill you want to develop. Something that will get you closer to your goal
8. Take control of your influences
You are the mash-up of what you choose to let in your life. – Austin Kleon
You’re only going to be as good as the people and stuff you surround yourself with.
So it’s time to be more strategic about who and what you let influence you.
Earlier we saw how our mental maps shape the way we see the world. And in most cases, these maps have been developed by outside influences of which we had no control. It’s time to change that.
- Create a list of all the people you admire; it doesn’t matter who they are as long as they are doing the things you want to be doing or are living life by the same values you want to live by.
- Make them your virtual mentors. Follow them on social media, join their newsletters, buy their products, read their work, find out who influences them (and follow them too). Soak up everything you can and let them influence you.
9. Seek support that helps you thrive
Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow into your happiest, strongest, wisest self. – Karen Salmansohn
Humans thrive off community and partnership.
At a fundamental level, we need each other to motivate, empathise, push, challenge and celebrate. And in our age of isolation, it’s more critical than ever to actively seek out social groups and work hard to build close relationships with like-minded (or like-hearted) people.
To maintain momentum towards your goals; to fight insecurities, to build up your skills and to share and revel in your wins – you need a support system that will help you thrive.
- Seek out various levels of support to cover all your bases and hold you accountable.
- Look for a peer; someone who can be in the trenches with you and push you farther than would go on your own
- Look for a cheerleader; someone who can be your emotional support and believe in your vision
Look for a mentor; someone who can light the way and expand your frame of reference
- Find your people (online, at school, at work, at the dog park) and make them a part of your journey.
10. Turn your goals into projects
The way to get unstuck is to do something. – Gary Vaynerchuk
If you fail to turn your goals into actionable, doable steps, then I guarantee you won’t achieve them. A great goal must inspire action, which is much easier to take when you have a plan.
Turning your goal into a project allows you to create clear direction and a reliable, measurable system for getting things done.
- Create a clear vision of what your project will look like once it’s complete
- Work backwards to uncover the actions and resources you need to make it happen
- Map out the steps involved (make them as small as possible) and begin with the first one
11. Start making things
In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. – Austin Kleon
The reality is that we are all infinitely creative.
And when we come to the table as creators, we’re no longer limited by whatever happens to be on the menu. We know we can always go into the kitchen and cook up something wonderful on our own.
So the last, and arguably most important, action step for you to take, is just to start making things.
As Austin Kleon, one of my own virtual mentors says:
Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use — do the work you want to see done.
Are you ready to be your own life coach? Self-coaching can be a remarkable catalyst for change.
Amazing things can happen when we take steps to shift our current worldview, unlock the essence of who we really are, and take the time the figure out what we really want.
When you choose to coach yourself, you can spark your own insights about your work, your finances, your relationships, and yourself. And that heightened self-awareness can radically change your life when you take action on the knowledge you gain.
Whatever situation has you stuck right now — if you’re smart, determined, and growth-oriented, you have the means to coach yourself towards a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
So, now it’s your turn:
- What would you be most excited to change in your life over the next few weeks, months, years?
- What do you think is holding you back from doing it?
- Which of the suggestions above can you try this week to get you moving forward
My challenge for you is to pick at least one thing from the list above, begin with the first steps today and start the process of unsticking yourself.