How to discover who you are and what makes you happy

Not sure what will make you happy when you grow up? Share my journey of career path confusion, discovery tests and tips to reveal the superpower of self awareness.


“A capable all-rounder”

That was me as a kid. Okay at most things, academically at least, but not especially good at anything. My only discernible talent was spelling. Useful for school but as far as I’m aware no-one has forged a career as a  ‘professional speller.’

My sister, on the other hand, had a specific talent. She was (and still is) gifted with artistic ability. She can draw and design and create. Growing up her talent shaped her decisions about school subject choices, further study and ultimately her career. Her path was clear.

My path was murky.

As I progressed through school I craved insight into my special talents. I wanted someone to tell me what I brought to the world, to guide my decisions and help me to see my future career path. I wanted clarity and certainty, not confusion and doubt. I wanted to know what I was going to be when I grew up!

Working

Enter Discovery Tests

At University, studying psychology, I discovered ‘individual differences’ - the study of psychological differences and similarities between people. My family talked a lot about personal strengths and interests. I was aware that we’re all wired differently and we each possess unique capabilities but I was fascinated to discover that this was more than just dinner time conversation. This was an entire domain of scientific research.

Psychologists specialising in individual differences explore personality, abilities, aptitude, intelligence, interests - all of the ways in which you and I might be distinguished from everyone else. In essence, they study the characteristics that make you, you.

Their tools of trade are psychometric assessments - the tests and questionnaires used to uncover these unique traits.

"I like to call them Discovery Tests because you can rely on them to discover useful and meaningful insights into who you are and what you bring to the world."

Most of us have taken online personality quizzes that tell you what type of cheese you are but I think it’s safe to say that there is not a lot of science to back these up. The tests developed by psychometricians are reliable and valid.

That means they consistently measure what they’re meant to and you can rely on them to discover useful and meaningful insights into who you are and what you bring to the world. I like to call them Discovery Tests.

You get a test! You get a test! Everybody gets a test!

As a postgrad student with access to the Psych department test library I borrowed IQ tests and assessed my family’s cognitive skills. I issued friends with personality questionnaires and anyone who so much as hinted at career uncertainty got an interests profile.

I subjected myself to every assessment and questionnaire and quickly discovered that exploring similarities, differences, strengths, interests, styles and abilities was my jam. Discovery tests also explained my behaviour, my interests and how I liked to operate in the world. They gave me my longed for insight into what I was going to be when I grew up. They also gave me a sense of purpose, a career and a path to help others.

For 20 years I have used discovery tests combined with coaching to help clients and colleagues uncover lesser known facts about themselves; to answer the questions, ‘Who am I? What am I good at? What gives me energy and joy? Where do I fit in the world? And ‘What should I do with my life?’ The tests and debriefs provide ‘self knowledge’ or ‘self awareness’ - the ability to see ourselves clearly.

"Self awareness is the ultimate power"

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Self awareness is the ultimate power. It gives us a decision framework and the direction to discover and stay on a meaningful path. It offers a sense of purpose, an anchor to keeps us resilient and grounded and a path to happiness and success.

Organisational psychologist, Dr Tasha Eurich and her team spent four years undertaking on of the biggest scientific studies of self awareness. They discovered that people who are self-aware are:

  • More fulfilled

  • Have stronger relationships

  • More creative

  • More confident

  • Perform better at work

  • More effective leaders.

They also discovered that although most of us believe we are self-aware (95%), very few of us are, estimating the number at only 10 - 15%.

Why?

According to Eurich it’s because:

  1. Much of our behaviour is driven by unconscious forces that are very difficult to access (we’re creatures of habit, thinking and acting largely on autopilot).

  2. We don’t ask others for feedback.

We muddle along in our own minds, rarely getting the data we need to make decisions and confidently chart our life’s course.

How do we access the superpower of self awareness?

In order to boost your self awareness the experts suggest three paths:

  1. See yourself through the eyes of others. The simplest way is ask for honest feedback from those you trust.

  2. Become a skilled observer of your behaviour. This takes time, guidance and practice but offers great insights.

  3. Use psychology’s scientifically backed tools, like discovery tests, to get an objective fix on the attributes that make you, you.

My favourite discovery tests are personality assessments and interests questionnaires. There’s nothing better when exploring a profile with a client than witnessing the ‘Oh wow!’ moment when they recognise themself and begin to appreciate what they offer the world.

My coaching clients and I also love values inventories and strengths profiles for revealing the deep drivers of our behaviour, leading to new goals, energy, less procrastination and an immense sense of purpose and direction.

If you’re keen to discover your values, this is the simple values inventory that I use. To reveal your strengths, try the free VIA Survey of Character Strengths.

 Photo by  Miroslava  on  Unsplash

Photo by Miroslava on Unsplash

It’s Your Turn

The doors are now open to the Potential Psychology Store and I’m excited to assist you with valid, reliable and insightful Discovery Tests. You can explore your personality type (similar to the Myers-Briggs or MBTI) and uncover your career or study interests.

There are also discovery tests for workplaces, helping you as leader to not only discover your leadership superpower but also the powers within your team; unleashing improved collaboration and performance and happier people.

You can discuss and debrief your Discovery Test profile with me, online, and together we’ll develop a personal action plan that turns your profile into the steps you need to achieve your goals.

Discovery tests and self awareness have given me the confidence, direction and self-belief that I’ve needed to establish my career, run my business, launch projects such as my podcast and be a more content parent, partner and person.  I can’t wait to help you discover your superpowers too

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Want to know more?

This is a great article by Dr Tasha Eurich via HBR: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

Dr Tasha Eurich's TED Talk: Increase your self-awareness with one simple fix


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