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How to Rediscover Your Authenticity

My Journey Towards Authenticity

I created BREAKTHRU BRANDS with the simple, but by no means easy, mission to help empower others to be the best version of themselves and inspire others to do the same.

This notion of “empowering you to be you” is rooted in one key concept: authenticity.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown defines authenticity as “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

In order to help guide others on their journey to unearth, refine, own, and share their own authenticity–in other words, to “show up and be real”–I had to consider my own journey towards authenticity.

At the risk of over-simplification, I would like to share a few simple steps that helped begin to guide my authenticity journey and that may be useful to you.

Recognize how far you’ve come – and where you want to go

The first step is to make time for self-reflection. For some people, this can be best achieved through meditation or yoga. If this is not your thing, try simply unplugging from technology. Find a quiet place to just sit and think for 30 minutes, or take a long, mind-clearing walk outside.

Spending uninterrupted time with yourself can be intimidating. Silence is so rare in our everyday lives that it’s not uncommon to find yourself uncomfortable the first few times you take this intentional step back for self-reflection.

Consider these guiding questions as a starting point to structure your self-reflection:

  • Think about your life’s journey. What lessons have you learned? Where have you been? Where are you now? Where you are headed?

  • Imagine the best version of yourself. What does this look like, how do you feel? What do you want to project to the world?

Feelings of self-doubt, self-deprecation, or even frustration may come up throughout the process of self-reflection. As humans, it’s normal to pick ourselves apart and fall victim to negative self-talk. Do your best to orient yourself back towards the positive. More bluntly put: don’t talk sh*t about yourself, to yourself.

Take an honest inventory of your feelings

After you’ve returned from your self-reflection, the next step is to take stock of your feelings. Again, it’s completely normal for uncomfortable feelings to arise when you start asking big questions about your life. Simply notice them and allow them space.

Maybe, on the other hand, you’re feeling fired up to conquer your best-self goals. If so, great! Take stock of the excitement and remember this for when the road inevitably gets more challenging. It doesn’t matter so much what kind of emotions you are feeling, more so that it’s an honest assessment. Again, said bluntly, don’t b.s. yourself. If you can, take a few minutes after this self-reflection to journal or at least jot down bullets of what you discover.

Set your direction

Begin organizing your thoughts and feelings towards your personal “Northstar”. Consider this Northstar as a guiding theme to your personal narrative. It’s something you can return back to when feeling lost or overwhelmed. It’s what you can use as a gut-check when making a difficult decision or deciding whether or not to take on that new project.

It’s important to mention that defining your Northstar is not easy. This is hard work that requires deep thinking about what intentions have guided your past actions in the past, and whether or not you want those intentions to direct your future.

To better understand my own personal Northstar, I looked back to the times in my life when I was the most present, motivated and fired-up. I tried to better understand the context and dynamics of these moments. A pattern emerged.

The moments where I was taking action and being a part of creating a more equitable world for women, whether it was dissecting gender bias in schools and sports as part of my senior thesis or trying to fill the stands to cheer on my basketball team back in high school, to navigating mostly male-dominated board rooms as a marketing executive, I was most engaged and was (and am) at my best when working to empower women and working towards greater gender equality.

If you’re having trouble defining your Northstar, think about what you stand for and what you want to be known by others as standing for, both personally and professionally.

More aspirationally, in a more perfect world, what do you want people to do? What action or response do you want to trigger in others?

Share your vision

Again, it is important to make the time to write these things down. Notice I didn’t say take the time. When it comes to self-development — the true nitty-gritty, working through the mud, not-so-fun steps — you’ll feel like you don’t have the time.

It’s absolutely essential to your growth that you make self-reflection and direction setting priorities and to make the time to write down your vision. More importantly, it is critical to verbalize these thoughts and feelings to a trusted friend or personal stakeholder – even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. The act of speaking your goals out loud will force you to pressure test yourself and begin to crystallize what makes you authentically you.

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