July has been a good month. It became an all-month-long birthday celebration when presents started arriving right after the 4th, and has continued with quality time spent with most of my local friends, a visit from one of my favorite L.A. families, and a fabulous birthday hooky date with my love.
It’s also been one year since I published my 40 before 40 list and six months since my first roundup so it’s time for another update. There’s been some solid progress on the list over the last six months. I also started working toward many more items than are listed below, but here’s what I can report thus far:
#1. Try Peruvian food
I tried lomo saltado (below) and anticuchos (beef heart) in February, snapping this pic for Instagram to prove it. Delicioso!
#4. Wear my joy
I’ve been wanting to wear my joy, as inspired by artist Kelly Rae Roberts, for a while now, but I didn’t really know how. Luckily, KRR came to the rescue by offering the Wear Your Joy e-course in May.
I signed up and, while I’m still working through the course at my own pace, I feel like I’m gaining an increasing sense of my personal style. More to come.
#6. Play tourist in my home city
This one is an interesting challenge. It doesn’t have a clear end, a time when I can check it off and say “Yes, I did it!” It’s more of an attitudinal shift from status quo living to exploring our surroundings more deliberately.
To that end, I made a list of things I want to do around the Bay Area over the next few months, which includes visiting Safari West, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, and attending Kings Mountain Art Fair in September.
The first check mark was ticked when Mr. Watson played hooky for my birthday and drove us to Santa Rosa and Safari West, a 400-acre preserve featuring giraffes, antelopes, rhinos, zebras, and other African wildlife. We went on a three-hour guided tour and had dinner in their open-air restaurant afterward. I even took along my “real camera,” a Canon 5D with 70-200mm lens, for snapshots.
#13. Attend Holi at Stanford
Brian and I attended Asha Holi in April. We danced, threw colors at each other and random strangers, ate some tasty Indian food, and chilled on the grass.
Photo courtesy of Snap Yourself
And, in case you’re wondering, all of the color washed right off when we hopped in the shower afterward. Our old tees got a few stains, but it was worth it—we had dressed appropriately.
#14. Celebrate 10 years of marriage
Mr. Watson and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a photo shoot and marriage blessing in Hawaii on May 28th. It was a beautiful day at one of our favorite beaches on the Big Island.
Paul Simon’s song lyrics, “Ten years come and gone so fast. I might as well have been dreaming,” is dead accurate, in my opinion. I can’t believe we’ve been married 10 years but it’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to our next chapter.
Here are a few of my favorite photos, from photographer James Rubio:
#15. Dance in the rain
On one of our last evenings in Hawaii, Brian and I danced on our deck overlooking Kamuela and Waikoloa to “Anthem” by Emancipator. It was drizzling. That counts, right?
There you have it: Roundup #2 of my 40 Before 40 List. More in January with the third installment.
This week, we are continuing the getting to know yourself series with an overview of core values and motivations. For me, these topics are closely aligned because your values are what motivate you to do certain things or think in a particular way.
How do the two relate? Values are nouns, descriptors of what matters to you, things like family, achievement, strength, or abundance. Motivations are verbs; they’re what drive you such as to make a difference, leave a legacy, earn a lot of money, or parent abandoned children.
How to Identify Your Core Values
I shared an exercise to identify your values just over a year ago. If you haven’t completed that exercise, you might want to do so now. Or you can try this:
Make a list of 5-10 people who inspire you. Consider your past and present, friends and family members, historical figures or world leaders, fictional characters, etc. Next to each name, write down the character qualities that you associate with that person. Circle any qualities that you list more than once. These are a good place to start looking for your values.
As you tease out your values, you may notice there are differences between what you value personally vs. professionally; thus, you might want to create two lists.
How to Identify Your Key Motivations
One of the central ways to differentiate types of motivations is whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, and is characterized by an interest or enjoyment in something for itself.
Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources and can either be positive or negative, the quintessential carrot vs. stick. Extrinsic motivation could include praise, awards, or gifts on the positive side, or coercion, threats, or punishment on the negative.
Intrinsic motivation is significantly more powerful than extrinsic motivation. The major problems with extrinsic motivation, in case you were wondering, are that it results in diminishing returns over time (you need more of it to accomplish the same result); if it’s withdrawn, motivation disappears; and it can reduce or remove someone’s innate desire to do something (their intrinsic motivation). Naturally, when I’m talking about identifying your motivations to get to know yourself, I’m focused on your intrinsic motivators.
As you begin to think about your values and motivations, you might want to first look back at prior topics we’ve covered, specifically understanding your past and uncovering your key beliefs. Not to dwell on the subject but our pasts often shape how we think about the world and what we most value.
To tease out your motivations, try the following exercise:
Make a list of 5-10 things you’ve always loved to do. These can be short and sweet, like travel, read biographies, or volunteer with children. Now, look at your list, pick one item and ask, “What does that do for me?” Keep asking the same question until you get to a core motivation. Hint: You’ve reached a core motivation when the answer to the question, “What does that do for me?” is the same as your last answer. As with values, you’ll probably have several key motivations.
Abraham Maslow, founder of humanistic psychology, postulated that human beings have a common set of needs—physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem needs—that must be met before we can pursue needs that relate to our self-actualization, such as creativity, morality, spontaneity, and removing prejudices. In completing your motivation exercise, you may find that your key motivations fall anywhere on Maslow’s hierarchy. This is completely reasonable and to be expected.
For example, my #1 personal value is belonging and connection, which could also be stated as having a key motivation to belong. It’s no secret why, either: As a child of divorce who felt like she never quite fit in with her peers, it became important for me to feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself, like I’m not alone. My childhood wounds will probably always impact me, as they do all of us, but it’s what I choose to do with them that really matters. That’s where values and motivation come in.
By identifying and claiming your core values and motivations, you will be better able to make important life and career decisions, connect with like-minded people who can understand and support your goals, and stay on track with what matters most to you.
For part seven of the getting to know yourself series, click here.
I’ve read several articles that call the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) useless or meaningless and yet, not only is it the most popular personality assessment worldwide, I believe there are many reasons to appreciate personality assessments if you’re using them correctly.
But, first, why the haters?
Myers Briggs Type Indicator and Jung Typology Theorem: Complaints
It has no predictive power
University of Pennsylvania organizational psychologist Adam Grant says, “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”
Whoa there, who said anything about predictive power? CPP, publisher of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, states that the test helps people “gain insights about themselves and how they interact with others—and improve how they communicate, learn, and work.”
In fact, if you drill down into CPP’s website a bit, you’ll find that “[the test] is not, and was never intended to be predictive, and should never be used for hiring, screening or to dictate life decisions.” Ok, so it has no predictive power. Glad we got that straight.
It is based on type theory versus trait theory
Type theory states that people fit into a category, either right-brained or left-brained, for example. Of course this is not accurate in itself. But if you look at right-brained and left-brained as either side of a continuum, it makes sense that people fit somewhere along that continuum.
Further, it tracks that many people lean toward one end of the spectrum. Type theory simply classifies you according to the side of the spectrum you’re nearer. Trait theory makes more clear that you are on a continuum, but with very similar end results. I would argue that, for laypeople, this is pure semantics.
Test results can be inconsistent
A 1979 study titled “Test-Retest Reliabilities of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a Function of Mood Changes” found that up to 50% of test takers would be reclassified upon re-taking the test.
Because the assessment utilizes self-reported data, I’m not at all surprised the results are inconsistent. After all, they depend on test takers to tell the truth, to be adequately introspective to answer accurately, and to not ascribe any personal bias to one trait over another.
As far as consistency of results go, I can only tell you my anecdotal experience. I’ve taken the official MBTI once and online variations of it literally dozens of times and my type has always been INTJ, with one exception. I tested as an INTP the first time I took the test and I remember consciously choosing responses that I thought would make my then-Type A personality seem more relaxed and approachable because I was being tested for work. Upon reading the descriptions for INTJ and INTP, though, it was clear that INTJ better reflected how I think about myself.
Having your results change doesn’t mean the assessment is wrong; it could mean that you changed your answers to game the system as I did or that you prefer answering the questions according to how you feel in the moment versus long term.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator and Jung Typology Theorem: Strength
Now that we’ve gotten through the naysaying, why do I like the Myers Briggs and similar personality assessments? For exactly the reasons they’re purported to be useful: Because they can help people “gain insights about themselves and how they interact with others.” Because they help us understand who we are and why we act the way we do as well as how to relate to others who react differently.
When I read my assessment findings, I always have aha! moments.
Often our personality traits are so ingrained that we have trouble seeing them and, even when we do see them, we have trouble putting words to them. Personality assessments are, first and foremost, a tool to help us better understand ourselves. And I think we all need more self-awareness and understanding in this world.
When I look at results for other family members, I find that I am better able to understand them as well. Not to assign them to a job or task or to predict how they’ll react in a given situation, just to understand. Understanding underlies the creation of community, family, and global acceptance.
Should anyone use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to select the “best candidate” for a job or to decide upon promotions or job assignments? Heck no, that’s ridiculous.
Does being designated as one type mean you have no traits of its opposite? Again, no. No one is purely an introvert or extrovert. Think of each trait as a range; your “type” is the trait that is more dominant for you. It’s also possible that you’re so close to the middle that you’re what I call a “star” (or asterisk, meaning you have no marked preference for either characteristic).
So, look at your results with an open, inquisitive mind, absorb what makes sense to you, and let go of what doesn’t. You’ll be a better person for it.
As we continue the getting to know yourself series, it’s time to talk about personality.
Neurologist Paul Roe defines personality as “an individual’s predisposition to think certain patterns of thought and, therefore, engage in certain patterns of behavior.” Personality theory is a branch of psychology that studies individual differences between people, the set of characteristics that influence our understanding of, motivations, and behaviors in various situations.
Embracing your personality is important because each of us needs different things, depending on our natural predilections. I’m a hard core introvert, for example, and while I’m still discovering my limits, I need a lot of downtime at home, alone. My friend Cassandra, on the other hand, says she likes to go out almost every day of the week to feed her extroverted personality.
One of the ways you can come to understand and embrace your personality is through assessments.
Confession: I adore personality assessments!
Disclaimer: I know not everyone feels the same way. While I understand that each of the seven-billion people on this planet is unique and that assessments cannot provide a perfect model of human behavior, I still think they can be informative.
Statistician George Box said, “Essentially all models are wrong, but some are useful.” So I’m going to proceed with sharing a couple of my favorite personality assessments and you can take or leave what you will.
The Big Five Personality Test
Probably the most respected assessment among psychologists is the Big Five Personality Test. It is a trait-based assessment, meaning it places your temperament along a continuum instead of classifying you as a particular type as a type-based assessment would. The Big Five measures:
- Openness, the tendency to be imaginative and independent versus practical and traditional.
- Conscientiousness, the tendency to be organized and disciplined versus impetuous and disorganized.
- Extraversion, the tendency to be sociable and fun-loving versus retiring and reserved.
- Agreeableness, the tendency to be helpful and trusting versus suspicious or uncooperative.
- Emotional Stability, the tendency to be calm and secure versus anxious and insecure.
You can take the assessment for free here.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator
The most popular personality assessment is undoubtedly the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As its name suggests, the MBTI is a type-based assessment. It measures individual preferences in how people perceive and relate to the world. Specifically, it measures:
- Extraversion/Introversion, from where they derive their energy
- Sensing/INtuition, how they take in information
- Feeling/Thinking, how they make decisions
- Judging/Perceiving, how they relate to the outside world
Your MBTI result is expressed as a series of four letters such as ENTJ or ISFP. There are 16 types in total.
You can take a variation of the test for free or learn more about the official MTBI and take a paid version with personal feedback.
As a reminder, it’s up to you what you do with the results of a personality assessment. I prefer to take what is useful and let go of anything that doesn’t seem to fit or is unhelpful. The goal in exploring your personality is to help you better achieve what you want in life by first understanding who you are and what your unique needs are.
For part six of the getting to know yourself series, click here.
We’re taking a pause in the getting to know yourself series for the following public service announcement:
You are worthy.
Do you get me? Let me repeat myself:
You. Are. Worthy.
Yes, I’m talking to you.
Let me put this in some other common vernacular:
You are enough. You are valuable. You are deserving of love.
The sooner you come to believe that you are worthy, my dear, the better off you’ll be in this life. But I know this is easier said than done.
I had trouble accepting my worth for years. You too may have had people in your life who told you (or made you feel as though) you were not as worthy as someone else. But, regardless of past experiences, we each must come to a place where we truly, deeply believe we are worthy.
You might be wondering: What does being worthy even mean? Merriam-Webster defines worthy as “good and deserving respect, praise, or attention.” Yes, you are all of that.
To further break down the concept, Dictionary.com defines worth as “usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose” as in “Your worth to the world is inestimable.” So true.
By the simple virtue of your being alive, you are worthy. You are made (literally!) from the same materials as the moon and stars, and your worth truly is immeasurable.
When I say these things, I don’t mean to imply that you’re better than anyone else. You aren’t. But you are equal, and you are worthy. And that means you’re deserving of respect, love, and a sense of belonging.
Believing otherwise will never serve you. I’m not saying this to make you feel worse if you struggle with self-love. However, the bottom line is that you simply must get to a place where you believe you are as valuable as everyone else. Until you do, you will never be able to achieve all that you’re capable of or live the life you want to live.
When I began my journey toward self-acceptance—more than a decade ago now—I turned to motivational author, speaker, and teacher Louise Hay. In the beginning, I couldn’t say her affirmations with a straight face; I just didn’t believe them. It also took me years to finish reading her seminal work, You Can Heal Your Life.
When I thought about my journey to self-love and belief in my worth, I wanted to share with you one of Louise’s writings that I had printed out and posted on my bedroom mirror back in the early 2000s. As I looked for its citation, I came to realize that what follows must be my adaptation of Louise’s work rather than a direct quote. After all, Louise would have written everything in the present tense, but this is what I was capable of reading and accepting back then:
“I love myself; therefore, I will treat myself with loving kindness.
I love myself; therefore, I will express only positive thoughts about myself.
I love myself; therefore, I will trust the process of my past in preparing me for my future.
I love myself; therefore, I will shine my love for others and allow them to shine their love back to me.
I love myself; therefore, I will trust my body and release myself to the best I can be and it can be.
I love myself; therefore, I will be calm and guilt free.”
Although I now realize it cannot be a direct quote from Louise, I’m going to go ahead and attribute it to her because she was my first self-love teacher, it is based on her teachings, and she is still a significant influence.
Because I found this quote to be so helpful in my own journey, I decided to make a downloadable printable of it for you. It’s a PDF; if you like it, click the link above or the photo below to download and print, save, or share.
Over time, I adopted another adaption from Louise Hay’s affirmations, “I love and approve of myself just as I am.” To this day, I write that phrase along with a few other affirmations at the close of my daily morning pages.
During this process, I was also helped by thinking in terms of “no better and no worse.” None of us is inherently better or worse than any other living creature. Learning self-acceptance in that way, I’ve found, helps extend your circle of compassion to all beings. Sometimes it may be easier to be compassionate toward others than toward yourself. Extending your circle of compassion in any way you can is invaluable.
And remember, this is a journey. Some days will be better than others. You may begin to believe in your value only to have a major setback. I’ve been there. Keep moving forward. Keep the faith. There is no reason to believe that you are less than anyone else alive and every reason to support yourself into self-acceptance.
You are worthy. I hope these tips for embracing your worth and the printable prove helpful to you. If you have any questions about the process of embracing your worth, shout out in the comments.
When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible. – Brene Brown
For part five of the getting to know yourself series, click here.