Have you ever put together a puzzle? First, you open the box and dump all of the pieces on a table. You spread them out. Then, you pick up each piece one at a time, turn it over, observe it for shape, color and a glimpse of something that might be useful, and then place it face up on the table.

As you turn over more and more pieces, a pattern emerges and the colors and shapes become familiar. You begin to see how some of them might fit together. And even before you’ve turned them all over, you might begin to put together those that fit. As more and more pieces are visible, you begin to get an idea of what the completed picture will look like.

Well, you are like a puzzle with each facet of you a piece. Think about it - your strengths, your values, your skills, and your talents – each one represents a piece of the puzzle. With each piece you discover about yourself, you get closer to uncovering the person you are.

You want to know what your life purpose is. You want to know what you should do with your life and how you should live, hoping someone else has the answers to your riddle. We are taught at a young age to look outside ourselves for life’s answers and we’re given plenty of rules to live by. But each of us must find our own path. Luckily, the answers aren’t too far away. You just have to look within you. The more you know about you and act in accordance with your natural gifts, values, and strengths, the easier and more rewarding life is. Your purpose is revealed when you live in accordance with who you are.

Pieces of the Puzzle
Start uncovering the pieces of who you are. There is much you already know about yourself - what you like to do, what you’re good at, your style, and your ability to communicate and navigate in the world. Create a list of 100 things to know about you. Don’t worry about how these things might fit together; like a puzzle, you may not see the pattern until you’ve turned over more pieces. For now, just explore.

Everything you do reveals something about who you are. Your work does not define you; it is an expression of who you are. The roles you play in life – your work, your position in your family, who you are as a parent, child, sibling, and spouse – can be explored to provide you with pieces for your puzzle. You are not your roles; you are so much more. You are not your body; that is just your home. It’s so easy to get caught up in these things. Go deeper by asking yourself some simple questions about how you perform these roles and what being in each of these roles means to you and your life. Observe yourself. What does your performance and your experiences tell you about who you are?

Self-discovery is fun. There is no way around getting to know your Self. Attempting to avoid looking inward only leads to unhappiness and the feeling that there is something else – or something more - you are meant to do. This feeling comes when you know that you are not living up to your potential. It’s an uneasiness that can translate into stress and inner turmoil, which can lead to physical disease and emotional distress.

Without Judgment
It’s essential to look at each piece of you without judgment. Whatever it is, it just is. You might notice that right away as you identify something new about you, a voice inside you starts rationalizing it away – “you were taught not to boast and anyway, everyone can do that.” Your ego would have you believe that. The fact is you are who you are. If you are good at something, it just is. Don’t judge it. Just recognize that there are things you are naturally good at. Don’t assign meaning to it. If you come from a place of no judgment, then you are not explaining it or determining whether this piece of you is good or bad – it just is.

There will also be things you are not good at. The key to weaknesses is not to try to overcome them but rather to manage them. You need to know them so you can see how they impact your life, and then find ways to work around them or avoid them (or improve them if you must). Your weaknesses can also bring your attention to your greatest strengths. If you identify something you are not good at, what does that tell you about who you are, what you like, or what you are good at?

The Picture in the Puzzle
Getting to know your Self better naturally translates into bigger and better goals and accomplishments. When you know who you are, you are more confident and make decisions that honor you. You naturally design more effective plans and you accomplish your goals with amazing clarity, focus and speed. You naturally move in the path of least resistance – the path towards authenticity, towards being the real you.

There need be no fear or struggle with this exercise. Address anything you might be resisting. Whatever you might resist now will persist until you are willing to face it and learn from it. You might find that you want to know why you are the way you are. A word of caution about the question ‘why’: there may not be an answer, it may not be time for you to know the answer, or the analysis itself can distract you from discovering more about you. Focus on discovering what is.

Just enjoy getting to know yourself. Keep it light, playful, and fun. You are more than you think you are. And the more you know about your strengths, gifts, and talents, the more you can play with them! Give yourself permission to see all of you so you can be all of you.

Free yourself to be yourself. When you are willing to let go of the rules from others and learn to just be yourself, you come into that place of authenticity. You become completely comfortable in your own skin. Wow. Now that’s powerful.

If you want to learn more about the self-discovery process, refer to “The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance,” available in bookstores and on Amazon.com.

Coaching Challenge
Here are some action steps you can do immediately to get started identifying pieces for the puzzle of you.
1. Spend some time each day in self-reflection. Start a journal and write down three things you learn about yourself each day.
2. Observe how you impact others in your life and work.
3. Consider the compliments and performance evaluations you’ve received; what were people trying to tell you about you?
4. What are the gifts you’d like to orient your life around?

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN, CSAC is dedicated to helping you break through the barriers to your happiness and success. She is a masterful coach, a motivational speaker and world-renowned writer and author. For additional resources and to sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter, visit www.NurturingYourSuccess.comor email Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com.