Why An Aspirational Self is Necessary for Answering The Question of Who You Want To Be
“Something else gets under your skin, keeps you working days and nights at the sacrifice of your sleeping and eating and attention to your family and friends, something beyond the love of puzzle solving. And that other force is the anticipation of understanding something about the world that no one has ever understood before you."- Alan Lightman
We recently laid a really strong foundation and platform on which we can build our future and present expressive selves by exploring our own identity.
We talked about the importance of knowing what we value, what we believe, and how we want those to be seen, as being the first of part of what I'm calling The Expression Quotient - a very simple percentage quadrant that looks at self-expression at its core before it tries to "feel" or reveal a certain way or aspect outwardly.
[To review the quadrant and read the first part of the quotient, go here.]
Don't feel "left behind" if you're still working through the first part of the quotient in your mind - the idea here is not to get overwhelmed, but to be introduced to The Expression Quotient slowly - enough for you to start to understand how it works - I can work with you personally to develop your own quotient soon and help you connect the dots.
This week though, we're going to explore the second part of the quotient, which is answering the question "Who do you want to be?"
What a loaded question, right?!
Trust me, I know.
I don't know that this question is ever fully answered, but what I do know is that it's not only a part of the human brain (to imagine things), but it's a part of our ever-evolving growth as people.
Here's what I mean by that...
Just a few short years ago, I would've told you that my aspirational self would be sitting in a huge corporate corner office with the mini blinds raised, hot coffee on her handmade coaster on her desk with a gorgeous "T" scripted on it in some sexy, beautiful font, and a new pair of Tom Ford's. (That's seriously what I wanted at that time, and no, I can't believe it either).
But that's what real. I was always the girl who wanted the bigger job in corporations I worked for. But after several moves to different corporations doing work I didn't necessarily love, I developed a set of tactical skills that would ultimately land me a job I really do love (the one I have today) and let me work (mostly) in my zone of genius without feeling pressure to "climb" anywhere.
What I didn't know then were many things, though.
- I didn't know or understand the nature of the aspirational self is that she's always there - you never fully accomplish her because the nature of her changes as you change
- I didn't know or realize I was introverted. The word never came across my vocabulary and, in fact, I was probably one of those people who thought it meant "shy" subconsciously. (Gosh, we've come a long way!)
- As a result, I was busy always trying to "act" extroverted, and realize now, after all these years, it's exactly why I wanted to leave job after job after job. It wasn't necessarily the work I was doing - it was in part that my own identity wasn't complete nor had it yet been discovered. (Wow - what a revelation for me when I realized who I really was at my core).
- I had no clue I was highly sensitive either - never understood why loud noises were very bothersome to me, why I always had to wear sunglasses, why I seemed to feel things deeper than others (or couldn't let things go), or why I picked up intuitively on wayyyy more than I cared to.
Good grief - I was just notin the know. I didn't know myself yet - but I was going to get there.
The aspirational self from that time in my life has changed drastically - why? Because new knowledge has entered my sphere - I've taken 10 years to do the work of learning and answering who I want to be up to the present point of now. Every year, that answer seems to change as it should.
The beauty of the women and clients I get to work with now is that they're ready for me to help them get on the fast track with this - it's not about passing any part of the process - the work still has to be done - but through my own experience, I've been able to tap into exactly what these core elements are that can significantly elevate her a lot quicker. It's part intuition, part sequential reasoning, and they work well together to reveal new insights and save a lot of time and worry.
Most of my clients are between 35 and 50 years old, and they don't really desire spending 10 more years asking "how can I be more expressive and visible in my life, relationships, & work?" The thought of still asking that in 10 years is petrifying and a little disturbing.
I too, don't want you to have to wait 10 more years to feel complete freedom in your expressions or understand where they're coming from, how they're framed, or what the most important pieces are you need to be focused on, based on your own life experiences.
Hence, your quotient won't look like mine, and mine won't look like yours. Everyone's will be different.
Now that I understand an incredible amount more about myself and my own introversion and experiences, answering who I want to be is much easier for me today (and fun as opposed to intimidating). I love to play with the ideas now.
Who you are is about identity. Who you want to be is about freedom.
If you're anything like me, this can be the most rewarding "work" on yourSELF you ever commit to. This kind of freedom is not cheap, by any means, but it will end up making you rich - rich meaning fulfilled, started, fully charged (as Brendan Burchard would say it), alive and yes, if it should happen, monetarily as well.
What's taken me over 10 years to learn is that, my aspirational self is always growing in my imagination, the same way I am growing. So - the ideal self I imagined back then was all I knew for the time (and she never fully manifested that exact way). And that was okay. I ended up with certain aspects of her that I am dearly grateful for!
And I have to come to terms with the fact that, likely 5 years from now, the aspirational self I imagine now in my mind's eye, will look quite different, and I'll be just as grateful. Yet, she mustremain a part of me in order for my own growth to occur. I don't escape completely into her at any time (Enneagram Type 4's need to watch out for this), but I understand that she IS a part of me and always will be.
In The 30-Second Brain, neuroscientists have actually proven that "...any part of our brains responsible for direct experience can also be coopted to aid our imagination."
Said another way - imagination (or your ideal self) uses your direct experiences to draw its inspiration for shaping future desires.
Don't fight or try to stifle her - like the inner critic's voice, that never works. Deal with her with the currencies of compassion and curiosity - ask questions of her that go beyond what you see on the surface of "how she's living in 10 years." Questions like:
- Why does she want _________?
- Why is it important right now that in 5 years I want __________?
- Why does she need ___________?
- Why is she hoping for ____________?
- What is ____________ about?
- Why does she greatly fear ______________?
- Why does she keep looking for __________________?
There's simply a plethora of information we can gather when we just ask the right questions, deal in compassion, and stop judging or assuming things about who we want to be.
You and I must get comfortable with this process when many people avoid it at all costs. Let the depth of who you are serve you in this quest for discovery. Know it's what leads to total freedom of self-expression and will provide those ultimate pivot points you'll need in order to become who you really desire to become.
You have all my support on this journey - let me know what's on your mind...
Post Update 7/9/2014:
Found this video a few days after posting this blog. Amazingly accurate and backs up what we've discussed here.