Taniesha Simmons – Executive Assistant
Keywords – Being, Doing, identity, concepts, career, personality, interests, Who do you want to be, What do you do, personal development, talents, cultivate, self-actualization
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Have you ever considered who you want to be? We often ask children “what” they want to be in adulthood, but rarely “who” they’d like to become. “What do you do?” is a common question we Americans ask people we’re just meeting or hoping to know better. We believe their answer gives us insight into their personality and interests. Our culture has subconsciously linked what we do for work with our identity. I’ve contemplated these concepts for the past year and a half when my significant other gifted me a new planner. I love personal organizers, priority lists, calendar reminders, and grand blueprints. Since the age of 7, I’ve known what I wanted to be with little deviation and worked earnestly to secure the reality of my dreams. It wasn’t until my new planner introduced me to the idea of “being and doing” that I understood how and why my life’s “master plan” ultimately collapsed.
Asking the Right Question
Throughout my entire educational career, all my instructors have reinforced the importance of asking the “right” questions before beginning any experiment or analysis. The correct framing of a question significantly impacts where the research leads. The same concept can and should be applied to the goals we pursue. About four years ago, I realized I no longer wanted the life or career I pursued diligently since graduation from high school. “Who do you want to be” is a question I’d neglected to ask myself before setting out on life’s adventure. Once I posed the question, I recognized the things I was doing in my daily life were misaligned. For context, I consider being to mean a person’s inner nature, essence, or how they can be described. So, who do I want to be? I learned I want to be a devoted family woman, joyful, grateful, capable of leisure, charitable, and most importantly, humble. What was I doing? I constantly worked, sometimes multiple jobs, but always on some goal; wholly focused on achievement and being successful. I failed to maintain weekly calls to my family, especially my elementary school-aged brother. I rarely had time to spend with my friends or enjoy the arts. Worst of all, I’d made my life about me and devoted all my energies to ensuring my advancement, hoping I’d someday be able to give back to my community and those I loved. Very few of my pursuits supported who I wanted to become.
Soon after making these discoveries, I made changes to help channel my efforts into cultivating the habits of being. I started working at a company focused on its own being and doing alignment. Our culture supports my colleagues and me in our desire to grow in all areas, encouraging us to strive relentlessly to be our best selves. My schedule allows me to attend a daily morning Mass. I start my day quietly reflecting on all the things worthy of gratitude and how I can offer my talents to will the good of those around me. I rid myself of my smartphone and no longer allow notification bells to siphon my attention. My planner is most helpful in this endeavor by separating my goals into the categories of being and doing. I can see in a simple format whether the things on my to-do list further my objectives. These adjustments have greatly improved how I approach my tasks and ensure that the tools I use to complete them serve me rather than the reverse. In making these alterations, I’ve noticed I’m less harried, anxious, and concerned with climbing ladders. I’m more confident, intentional with my time, ambitious, and successful in the areas that matter most to me.
Practical Approaches to Evaluating Goal Alignment
This post shouldn’t be viewed as a repudiation of working tirelessly toward achieving goals. I firmly believe that setting worthwhile goals helps to uncover one’s purpose in life. However, I continue to meet many young professionals who spend their days “getting after it” simply because someone on a podcast told them it was worthwhile. Each journey is different, but I implore everyone to review their objectives to ensure they’re on the best path for them.
Start by taking an inventory of your current ambitions and investigating your motivations. Do they propel you out of bed in the morning or cause you to burrow deeper under the covers? I acknowledge the many occasions when we have to do things we don’t want to, but they don’t have to alter our core disposition. Who do you want to be? Consider how you want others to describe you in conversation. Do you want the discussion to stop at your job title or flow with glowing attributes? I recommend writing down the traits you wish to possess and mapping ways to make them tangible. If you want to be more thoughtful or charitable, implement ways to give to others daily. You don’t have to be a philanthropist to enrich the lives of others. Sometimes, it’s as simple as an unexpected phone call, a genuine inquiry into another’s well-being, or offering your assistance with a task. Don’t fear using resources; I spent a weekend working through a guided “being and doing” goal template. Lastly, bring your family and friends into the discussion; solicit their help in discerning your life’s vision. Resist getting trapped in the culture of obsessive self-improvement and endless side-hustles to mount the self-actualization peak. The month of July is the midway point of the year; there’s no better time to check in with yourself and make any necessary adjustments (no matter how small) to cultivate being.
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