“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” –Maya Angelou
When you’re unclear about what your personal philosophy is, allow yourself to be inspired by others who have accomplished great things until you find you’re own way. Author Martin Luenendonk outlines some of the best personal philosophies of extremely successful people. And, because representation is everything, I’ve added some of my favorite women’s voices to the list :
Sir Richard Branson: “Some of the best ideas come out of the blue, and you have to keep an open mind to see their virtue.”
Be willing to go off trail and be spontaneous. Over planning can mean missing out of great ideas and opportunities.
Katharine Hepburn: “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
Find the joy in what you do. Every once in a while it’s important to color outside the lines, try a different approach, or simply take a moment to enjoy your life.
Michael Dell (of Dell Technologies): “I was not going out and seeking a lot of advice from people. If I did, they would have tried to dissuade me or told me it wouldn’t work.”
Trust your intuition and recognize that you are the expert of you.
Elon Musk: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
Being willing to take a risk means embracing the possibility that things may fail and doing it anyway. Facing your fear of failure is key to achieving your wildest dreams.
Oprah Winfrey: “As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you.”
Doing the work to know yourself is the first step to understanding your direction in life. Getting that clarity will allow you to be true to yourself and live more authentically. I’ve been working on my own personal philosophy for a while now. It slightly changes every few years.
How to develop a personal philosophy
In my opinion, there are three main guiding principles you should remember when developing and using a personal philosophy:
- Know what motivates and inspires you
- Know your non-negotiables and core beliefs
- Know what makes you unique
These three principles translate into three questions you can ask yourself as you try to figure this out.
What motivates and inspires me?
When you wake up in the morning, do you set your intention? Understanding what motivates and inspires you is key to managing the eb and flow of your energy. We have both internal and external motivations for doing (or not doing) things. Ask yourself at what time in your life you felt a calling or push to go after something you wanted.
What are my non-negotiables and core beliefs?
Spend time figuring out your values, beliefs, and yes, even your biases. These are the things that will influence they decisions you make, the way you think about people and things, and the way you engage with them. What you believe will affect how you engage with and experience life
What makes me unique?
When you step into a job interview and are asked “What makes you unique?”, you think about your personality and character traits, and the talents you can bring to the table. Have you tried answering this question from an internal perspective? What do you contribute to your own life to enhance it? What talents and characteristics are you most proud of? What about you has brought you more happiness and a sense of accomplishment?
As always, writing down your answers will help you come up with the answers to these questions. Based on that information, you can then start thinking about crafting your own personal philosophy. You may even already have one but have never taken the time to put it into words.
What to ask yourself when choosing your personal philosophy
To create your personla philosophy statement, choose a word or a phrase that best expresses your core beliefs and values as a person. Keep it short. One or two sentences are plenty. Make sure the statement reflects who you truly are, not who you want others to think you are. Write it in a way that will always push you to take inspired positive action towards your goals and aspirations. Be your own cheerleader and coach.
Here are a few more questions to get you thinking:
What core beliefs and values are at the core of the daily actions I take? What drives me to keep going every day?
What qualities do I most value in others? What inspired actions align with my own?
Who are my favorite role models? What quotes inspire me the most?
Answering these questions should help bring to the surface your most authentic self. Once you’ve done these two exercises, use the information to write your personal philosophy statement. Here are some of the characteristics your philosophy should have:
- It should be short but powerful.
- It should energize you when you read it.
- It should reflect who you are at your core.
- It should lift you up when you’re feeling low.
- It should be clear and to the point.
- It should be something you’re willing to commit to long term.
Over time, the answers to the previous questions may change and your statement will likely evolve or become clearer. The final statement isn’t written in stone. As well, it should be in the present tense and begin with “I”. Think of it as an affirmation you can read over and over again.
For example, my own statement is this: “I take a moment every day to reconnect with who I am through meditation and deep breathing. By slowing down, I’m able to listen to my heart rather than my mind.”
For me, this is a personal reminder to practice my daily mindfulness, meditation, and self-care. These daily actions keep me grounded and at peace and allow me to make the best decisions for me, regardless of the noise happening around me.
Let me know in the comments below what you’re personal philosophy is!
Copyright Michelle Thompson 2021. Copyright Authentic World Inc 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I have over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator, zen meditator, and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and non-profit consultant, and after struggling for years with my own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about who I was and what I wanted, I did the work and learned how to get out of my own way and create an authentic meaningful life for myself. Now I teach others to do the same. I created Authentic World Inc, to offer a supportive space for learning these important life skills.
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