I’ve often had to ask myself through my personal development journey, “what does the best version of myself look like?” How do I know that this version I’m envisioning is authentically me and not just somebody else that I wish I was? Or who I feel pressured to be by society, friends, or family?

So, how does one define the best version of themselves versus the best version of someone else?

Here’s my attempt to answer that question and provide you with tools for discovering the best version of yourself.

Identify your core values

What is most important to you? Unfortunately, we have to make trade offs daily because we only have so much time and money. The most productive way to get where you want to be is to stay true to the things you value most. If it’s travel, you’ll need to save money for that. If it’s family, you might decide to stay close to home. Your values will likely change over time, but if you’re serious about being your best self, you’ll make sure your actions align with what you desire for your future. If you picture a life on the other side of the world, make sure you’re aligning your daily actions to help get you there.

Ask yourself, what do I notice about other people?

You can often find out a lot about yourself by what you notice, love, and hate about other people. In the past year, I’ve recognized a few key areas that bother me about myself and it was a great starting point in figuring out what my best self looked like. But, I also know that with my flaws – the ones that bother me the most, I need to be flexible and realistic.

Think about who you admire

We typically have role models that embody traits that we are capable of having, but haven’t fully developed yet. Examine what makes you admire the people that you like. Instead of feeling like you couldn’t possibly be as successful, dive deeper into what you could do to have a lifestyle like them. How did they get successful? Do a little research and model yourself (loosely) after them. There’s no problem with getting inspiration from other people’s careers or lifestyles. You’ll eventually make it your own, so don’t worry if your first attempts aren’t original. Just do the thing.

Don’t be afraid to try things

I’ve learned so much about myself by the things I tried and what didn’t work out. I had four internships and learned a lot about what I want in a career through them. How will you know what you’re passionate about if you don’t try and fail at several things? You don’t know what you could be missing out on. Think you might be interested in ice skating? Give it a shot. If you’re interested in something, give it a chance and see what happens.

Ask the people closest to you

Your loved ones see the best in you (hopefully) and can probably provide you with some insight into your potential. Take this one lightly, because other people’s version of who you should be is not the end goal here. But you might take something away from seeing what other people see in your future. How do you light them up? How might they show you opportunities that you hadn’t thought of yet? Get a glimpse at someone else’s perspective of you.

Do some journaling

Self-reflection is key in discovering your best self. It’s an outlet for your thoughts, but it can also be a guide book for your future. Try one of these intentional journal prompts to get started. Spend some time each day reflecting and understanding yourself. You’ll notice trends in your behavior. You can even reflect back on your past journal entries to strengthen your personal growth.

Develop strong habits 

When you cultivate strong habits, you’re on a path to becoming your best self. There is so much growth to be had when you’re diligently working day after day to become your best self. Getting started with forming habits is the hardest part. Once you have a positive routine, nothing can stop you. Have you heard of decision fatigue? Apparently when we have too many choices in a day, we start to make poor decisions towards the end of the day. Routines help us with doing actions without thinking about it. It leaves more room for all those other mind-consuming decisions we need to make.

Go on and be your best self. We will never reach our full potential, but we’ll be forever in the process. And that’s a journey that we’re all about.

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