Why Do You Need to Know Who You Are?
You could be doing this workbook for a number of reasons. They include:
1. You’re trying to find out more about who you are, just for the fun of it. Fun? Well, why shouldn’t it be? It’s you that you’re doing this homework on: what more fascinating exploration could you possibly imagine? You’ve got talent, no doubt about that. (Everyone has, even if they don’t know what it is . . . yet.) Finding out just what your specific gifts are should be lots of fun. It all depends on the attitude you bring to it. If you think of it as a task, it will be; if you think it will be fun, it will be.
2. You’re trying to make a major decision in your life: what major to pursue in college, what career to choose for your first time out of the gate into the world of work, or what career to change to, if you’ve been in the world of work for some time, and your present one is boring the life out of you. Knowing the answer to “Who am I?” will help tremendously with any of these decisions. Because “who am I?” involves—among other things—making a list of what you know, and what you can do. If we are in mid-life, often we can put together a new career just using what we already know, and what we already can do; we don’t necessarily have to go back for three or four years of retraining. I’m not talking here about radical career changes, like from salesperson to doctor, or from old-fashioned warehouse management to the mastering of CATIA systems. For such, you obviously need additional training. But until you know who you are, you don’t know what you need, or what enchants you.
3. You’re at a crisis point in your life: divorce, death, the ending of some long-term job, the acquiring of a new disability in your life due to accident, disease, or war. Martin
Luther King, Jr., called these interruptions to our life. “The major problem of life,” he said, “is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.” He saw them, and so should we, as opportunities. To pause. To think. To assess where we really want to go from here, with our lives. If you begin with answering the question, “Who am I?” before you set out on your new journey, it makes all the difference in the world. You may actually trip over the answer to the most fascinating question you can ask: why are you here on earth, and what is your mission in life?
4. Lastly, maybe the reason you’re doing this inventory of yourself now is because you’re in some class or group, and the instructor decided everyone in the class should work through this workbook. In other words, it wasn’t your choice. You had nothing to say about it.
Okay, use the opportunity. Make this time of your life a hunt for a deeper life. A life you’re prouder of. A victorious life.
Dream a little. Dream a lot. One of the saddest lines in the world is, “Oh come now—be realistic.” The best parts of this world were not fashioned by those who were realistic. They were fashioned by those who dared to look hard at their wishes and then gave them horses to ride. What Language Shall We Use to Describe Who You Are?
What language do we want to use, to describe who you are? I’m not referring to languages such as English, French, or Chinese here; I’m thinking of life languages. There are three of them, because there are three worlds we live in, during our lifetime: the world of education, then the world of work, and finally the world of leisure or retirement:
In each of these worlds, we can—and do—use different language. For example, in the world of education our language is about ourselves as student. In the world of work our language is about ourselves as worker. And in the world of leisure our language is about ourselves as player. So, the first decision we have to make, once we decide to inventory and describe who we are, is, “In what language shall we describe ourselves—the language of student, the language of worker, or the language of player?”
In this workbook, and elsewhere, we have opted for the language describing you as worker. Why? Well, it is relatively easy to get into the world of learning—though in terms of college, it is getting harder; and it is relatively easy to get into the world of leisure. What is difficult is getting into the world of work, or getting back into the world of work. For this, you need the most time, the best tools, the hardest thinking, and the strongest preparation. It is best, then, to describe yourself to yourself in the language of work. In this workbook, this is what we shall do. And so, we begin.
Excerpted from What Color Is Your Parachute? Job-Hunter's Workbook, Fourth Edition by Richard N. Bolles. Copyright © 2012 by Richard N. Bolles. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.