Seek Guidance by Looking Inward

When taking your initial steps toward an aspiration, seek guidance first by looking inward. What would the person you aspire to be do on a daily basis?

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” — Aristotle

You decide what your life will be with every act and what it will not be with every failure to act. Each act, then, should be aligned with who you aspire to be.

It may be tempting to start modeling the behavior of others by looking outward for examples, but I strongly encourage you to look inward first. Understanding your own perception of who you aspire to be is an incredibly valuable perspective.

Start by asking the following question:

What would a [insert aspiration here] do?

As an example, here is what one of my aspirations looks like:

What would a writer do?

Before going down a Google rabbit hole, quickly write down whatever comes to mind. Don't overthink it or constrain yourself in any way. Just let the thoughts flow.

Here is the initial list I came up with for my writing aspiration:

  • A writer dedicates time each day free of distractions to write.

  • A writer studies the writing style of authors he admires or identifies with.

  • A writer produces valuable content at least once a week. (Here I start with the goal of being an essayist, which is much more approachable then starting big with a book.)

  • A writer generates new ideas by regularly consuming the content of others that interest him.

Your list may be shorter or longer. No pressure!

Keep this list in a safe place. Add new actions as they occur to you. This list is guidance for what is to come.

You may feel like a pretender at this point, but that's okay. I bet you have some real gems there.

The true value of this exercise is putting into writing what you understand your new identity to be. You then simply do what that person would do. With each act you reinforce your new identity. You start to believe.