Knowing Yourself Is a Cornerstone Of Success And Happiness

May 21, 2017You, All Articles & Posts, Happiness & Fulfilment Guides, Mindset Guides

How well do you know yourself? Who are you? I’m not asking about what you do or where you live. Who are you as a person, deep down?

Pay attention to how you felt when I asked you this. Did you feel excited, happy, uncomfortable, or even anxious to answer?

“Who are you?” or “Can you tell me about yourself?” are probably some of the most dreaded questions out there. Why? What’s so scary?

Usually, people say that they don’t like talking about themselves. As a coach, I ask this question a lot, and from my experience, the truth is that people typically know quite little about themselves. A week ago I had a session with a woman in her 60s who felt quite lost in life. I asked her some basic questions about herself, and she couldn’t answer. After a few more questions and even more silence, she looked at me in shock and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I’m a stranger to myself!”

Self-awareness or knowing oneself is one of the cornerstones for happiness and success in life. Without good awareness, people often pursue the wrong career (usually because it pays well or it’s easy to do), get in a relationship with the wrong person, struggle with indecisiveness and low self-confidence, and generally find themselves just going along with things.

When you’re not sure what you like or don’t like, standing up for something and making firm decisions is difficult because it’ll always feel like guesswork. It’s like trying to order from a menu when you actually don’t know what you like. On the other hand, if you know that you’re crazy about seafood and soups, when you see seafood chowder on the menu, I probably couldn’t talk you out of ordering it. Knowing yourself means you can make a decision, stand your ground, and be a lot less likely to be swayed by others.

Self-awareness and success

Successful people (regardless of what they’re successful in) have a great sense of self-awareness. When you have a chat with someone successful, read about them, watch or listen to their interviews, you’ll find they’re pretty clear about who they are and what they like. They’re also usually quite opinionated and are clear and consistent about what they stand for, at the very least in the area of their success (although typically in many other things as well). This is not a coincidence.

Knowing oneself is power!

So how do you get to know yourself?

First of all, be patient. It’s a process that takes time. You’ve probably lived a few decades without worrying too much about it, so don’t rush it now.

Approach it as you would dating. And by dating I mean good old fashioned courtship, not today’s Tinder, Netflix and Chill fast track. How do you get to know someone? You spend time with them; you ask them questions, you talk about their life and experiences, their likes and dislikes, what they appreciate or despise, their hopes and dreams. Set it up for a lifelong romance, because after all, you should want to love yourself. And then you put in the work.

To-Do List:

1. I suggest that you get a nice journal dedicated to this process. Alternatively, you can type on your computer, but with how personal it is, typing may not have the same feel.

2. Set aside a few minutes, ideally every day, when you can have a quiet moment. Make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, or have a glass of wine, whatever will do the trick for you. Make it a special, enjoyable ritual.

3. Ask yourself a question about yourself, take a deep breath and just write. Write at least one page. If you can write more, great! Don’t cut corners though. The only person you’d be cheating is yourself. There’s nowhere to rush. There is no finish line.

4. Keep doing this as often as you can. Over time you’ll discover more and more about yourself. It’s important that you write things down, not just think about it. Writing keeps your mind focused and is much more effective.

If you’re not quite sure what questions to ask yourself, here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself. Remember, always follow up with “Why?”.

– What makes you really happy/sad? Why?

– When was the happiest/saddest moment of your life? Why?

– What are you scared of?

– What do you enjoy doing?

– What is your dream?

– What do you like about yourself?

– What annoys you?

– Where would you like to live?

– Where would you never go?

– What was your relationship with your parents like when you were growing up?

– What made you who you are today?

– What were the most significant events in your life?

– What do you often think about?

– What do you like to eat?

– What do you like to wear?

– What do you like to read?

– What are your favourite movies/actors/actresses/plays/ etc?

– What was the most challenging time in your life?

– What are you proudest of about yourself?

– When did you do the right thing?

– What decisions have made the biggest impact on your life?

This list of questions could go on and on, but these can get you started.

Good luck!

Don’t be shy to leave a comment, like, and share.

If you need a support of a life coach, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match.  




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  1. Frank

    Hi Tom,

    I completely agree that self-knowledge is the fundamental starting point for any coaching intervention or other life redesign. I found in coaching people to improve their money habits to reach better financial outcomes, that the biggest mistakes and the critical blind-spots are caused by gaps in self-knowledge. We start our coaching process with a simple survey to understand thinking style and personality ( ). It helps the coach guide the client to create systems adapted to what works for the client. For those clients that can and want to go deeper in that journey of self-discovery, I will recommend your above blog post!

  2. piker keri

    Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things
    out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where
    to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Cheers

    • Tomas Svitorka

      It’s not hard. Just make sure you post regularly and good quality content. Do it! 🙂

  3. Hallie

    Outstanding story there. What happened after?
    Take care!

  4. Anonymous

    I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your
    website. It appears like some of the text in your content are
    running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know
    if this is happening to them too? This might be
    a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

    Thank you

    • Tomas Svitorka

      I’ve checked it and seems fine. Perhaps some issue with your browser.


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