Bruce Lee once said that all knowledge ultimately leads to self-knowledge. But for that to become a reality you’ll need the correct mindset and the accurate tools.
We’ll break down into simple steps a technique that psychologists use in career counseling to help the client understand himself deeper and align his career with his most intrinsic existential needs.
First you have to understand the following premises:
- Your life story, alongside your personality, has transformed you into a unique individual with its own psychological needs.
- Those needs were formed during your childhood and persist into adulthood.
- As a unique individual you’ll search environments in life that allow you to meet your psychological needs.
- When these needs are met a feeling of fulfillment is achieved.
- Your professional activity will be the best vehicle to meet those needs on a daily basis.
Short and simple: Doing what you’re supposed to do will make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Easy, right? Not so fast. Most people I’ve met don’t know what the hell are their needs or how are they supposed to conduct they careers! All their lives they floated like an abandoned boat in high sea. They just “went along” and eventually finished high school, took a major – or not – and now work somewhere. And in all of this time they never took a moment to listen to themselves.
Choosing a career doesn’t make it fit for you.
Plus we live in a world where information is overly abundant. Horoscopes tell you what your personality is like, Cosmopolitan calls you dump material and facebook gives you shitty personality tests. All of this bullshit have been distracting you from following what comes from within you.
The question is how can you truly understand yourself without falling into these fast gratification, unfounded, ego-feeding ways?
Introspection, that’s how.
First of all it is crucial that you do the following:
1. Open Word
2. Write your future career plan. What do you have right now planned for your live? Where would you like to be in terms of work in a medium term future? Whatever comes, that is what you should write.
Now understand that humans have an intrinsic need to feel that they have control over their own life. People project patterns of behavior that allows them to adapt and respond to an ever-changing environment.
What you wrote on that WordPad is in some way a projection of who you have been and what you think you need for your life, which may or may not be accurate. To understand if what you wrote is aligned with your core needs (or if it is just some bullshit that society led you to believe was best for you) you need to understand what your core needs are.
There are 3 main needs on everyone’s life:
1. Autonomy – The feeling that: you control your own life; that you’re an independent individual; that you’re self-sustainable; that you can make your own decisions…
2. Competence – The feeling that: you are capable of doing a good job; that you master some field in your life; that you are recognized by your competence in some area…
3. Relationship – The feeling that: you can form and maintain meaningful bonds with other people; that you can be appealing and captivating to somebody that you’re attracted to; that you can find support from family and friends…
These three command our lives and our feelings of adequacy toward the world.
They become real when compared to our surroundings as they give us information regarding how fit for survival we are, how much self-power we have and how much we have grown.
Being the employer of the month at McDonalds can give you a high level of competence, unless you’re 35 and have a bachelor degree.
Not having a date to prom is not so bad if half of your class doesn’t have one also. But if they do, your needs regarding relationships will hit a low point.
Living in your mother’s basement doesn’t bother you at all…until you get a girlfriend with her own house and car, then how can you feel autonomous?
One day you’ll understand that you’re enough and that you need by no means to compare yourself to others. But until you reach that enlightenment level you’ll have needs.
And by now I believe you have realized that the people around you also have needs that you have to respect because what’s meaningful for them is different from what’s meaningful for you. Which includes respecting someone else’s Bieber Fever.
What matters is the meaning that the person attaches to it.
On the other side, respect from others toward you comes from you feeding their deepest needs – giving them value where value is needed.
Now how do find out your core needs?
When children are developing they build representations of themselves, the world and of their interactions with the world. They form expectations and interpretations of their own behavior and how the world reacts to them – which will guide them through the world of social interactions. It is believed that in our early development these intrinsic needs will be constantly present and will be put to the test. Some of them will be met, others will be more neglected.
Meaning that your development was formed around the way your needs were met and how they were not met.
Maybe getting that motorbike at 16 was your way of restoring your feelings of autonomy. Maybe learning pick up at 25 was your way of finally satisfying the need for mastery over relationships. Maybe desperately trying to become a millionaire is a way of feeling competent in a way that your father never made you feel when you were six and receiving a compliment on those drawings meant the world to you.
And there is nothing wrong with any of these (as long as you’re not harming anyone). The problem arises when you’re repeating patterns of behavior that bring you disappointment and suffering.
So we have two goals here: To raise awareness to your own behavior so that you can make sure that you’re not following any maladaptative pattern of behavior in your life; And that you can consciously get into the path (professional or not) that will satisfy your unique intrinsic needs and grant you a more fulfilling life.
And this is where Bruce Lee’s quote kicks in: everything you do, feel and think will allow you to have a better understanding of yourself. Those are the true sources of information about you, not some quiz, facebook or horoscopes.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Dedicate now full attention to yourself and answer these 5 questions:
1. What feeling in your life do you seem to be pursuing?
2. What gets you out of be in the morning?
3. What in your day gives you that warm feeling inside? Is there a way you could have it every day?
4. Does your current job/occupation allow you to fulfill your core needs?
5. If we lived in a world with no money – and therefore no salaries – would you still be working in the same place, doing the same thing you’re doing today? Why?
Now open the WordPad again and look at what you wrote. Will that warm feeling be present in your future? Will you be doing tomorrow that which satisfies your core needs?
If not, it’s time to rethink your career.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius