Young adults are facing a lot of challenges in 2018 and looking for direction in their lives is one of them.
We wake up every day to a new article about how millennials are doing this or ruining that, while most of us are trying to figure out what we want.
If you’re reading this, then you’re not the kind of person who says, “Oh well, guess I’ll never know about choosing your path”. You’re already looking to choose your life.
To help you on this lifelong journey, we’ve got some tips and tricks to learning more about yourself. Get enlightened below.
Recognize Personal and Life Accomplishments
Turns out there’s a reason our teachers put “Great job!” stickers on our tests and homework as kids and it’s called dopamine.
Dopamine is the pleasure chemical in the brain that makes us happy. When you see a cute puppy picture on facebook or get praise, it’s responsible for the rush of bliss.
But you don’t need other people to help you get it. You can hack your brain to make dopamine work for you! One of the ways to do this is with an accomplishment list.
This list is for accomplishments of all types, personal, work, or spiritual. Keep it in a notebook and record every small win that makes your dopamine meter budge.
When you give yourself this pat on the back, your brain will give you dopamine. You’ll be in a better mood and have more motivation to get things done.
Scientists have even found that the idea of accomplishing something creates a dopamine rush. So setting a goal and taking steps to follow through gives you a rush too.
Keep your notebook with you in the car or in your purse. You can keep it on your phone, but there’s something more satisfying about pen and paper.
Not sure what to consider an accomplishment? What are those things that you feel like aren’t a big deal unless you share them with others on Facebook or in person?
That’s a good place to start.
Yes, looking for direction involves keeping track of a few things. First your accomplishments and now the things you’re grateful for (in no order).
Gratitude is a beautiful thing. It’s the only thing (other than love) that you can never run out of.
To quote Gilbert K Chesterton, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder”.
Being thankful and thinking about what you have isn’t just a dopamine kick, it makes you healthier.
Gratitude makes you happier, increases general well-being scores and helps you sleep better. In a study of 400 subjects, researchers found those who practiced gratefulness improved their quality of sleep.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to write down all your blessings right now, it can even help at the gym. A study out of UC Davis reported that gratitude was positively correlated with exercising regularly.
Now that you know how important gratitude is when looking for direction, let’s make your journal.
Start with a blank piece of paper and list everything you’re grateful for. Some people like to start with the little things and go big, but others start the other way around.
If you can’t think of anything, think of what people in third world countries don’t have. Food, shelter, water? Those are all relevant choices.
As you start to list things, others will come. Keep this list with you too because the more you practice gratitude, the better you’ll get at naming blessings.
Find Your Core Values
If you open up any basic self-help book, you’ll find some mention of knowing your personal values.
Personal values are: “A measure of the worth or importance a person attaches to something; our values reflect the way we live our lives.”
Once you find your values, you can start to live with them and your life will start to change.
To start out, let go of everything you think you know about yourself. Download a list of core personal values from the internet and give yourself at least half an hour alone.
Turn your list over and write down what you think your core values are first. You can find these by thinking about what makes you angry or warms your heart.
For example, some people can’t stand when people run a red light or break other rules. They value order and honesty.
On the other side of the spectrum, what makes you warm and fuzzy no matter what? One friend cries whenever they see videos or pictures of military members coming home. They value family and unity.
It’ll take you a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it. Use your list as a resource, for when you can’t think of the word you want. Otherwise, the answers are inside of you.
Write Them Down
Once you have a list of values (aim for 10) write a paragraph or so for each.
In your paragraph define what the value means to you, how you see its role in your life, where you’re excelling with it, and where you can improve.
If this seems like a lot of work, divide it into a few sessions. Or do it all at once, it depends on how you work best. Either way, don’t rush through it.
Once it’s all done, read all your paragraphs again and take a few minutes of meditation. Clear your brain and feel good about knowing more about yourself.
The next time you’re faced with a difficult decision or find yourself unhappy, get out your list. Ask yourself if you’re acting by your personal values and if you aren’t, how can you change it?
Looking for Direction: Going Forward
At the most basic level, humans are always changing. You don’t wake up with the same cells you went to bed with last night.
The same goes for all the things on this list. It’s okay for your values to change or change priority over time, as long as you take the time to notice when it happens.
If you take these steps towards looking for direction in your life, you’ll learn about yourself and how you react to the world around you.
You’re a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a masterpiece at the same time. If you need help remembering that or want to join a community of like-minded people, we’d love to have you.
Join our community today!