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How to know yourself: Tips for beginning your self-discovery journey

May 24, 2022 - 16 min read


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What does self-discovery mean?

How to start a self-discovery journey

7 elements of self-discovery

Why is self-discovery so important?

5 benefits of self-discovery

How to keep yourself engaged with your self-discovery journey

Moving forward

Life moves fast. We have errands to run, work to do, and commitments to uphold. Learning how to begin self-discovery could be the last thing on our mind. 

Our busy routines rarely give us time to consider what kind of life we actually want. Do you reflect on who you are while standing in line at the grocery store? Most likely, no. It can be hard to find the space to discover and become our most authentic selves. However, there are endless benefits that make taking the time worth it.

If you’re wondering how to begin self-discovery, know that the first step is making a commitment. Your journey will require you to focus, take action, and prioritize your needs. Remember, you can’t make a change without putting in the work. 

Ready to find out how to begin your self-discovery journey? Let’s start by defining what self-discovery is. 


What does self-discovery mean?

Self-discovery is the process of understanding your true self: your values, your needs and wants, even what food you like and dislike. You might have naturally learned some of these things about yourself over time. Yet, for a lot of people, we have a way of losing touch with our values and hiding our own motivations and preferences, even from ourselves. Going deeper into self-discovery can transform your life. 

It’s one thing to know your personality type or your favorite meal. But true self-discovery starts when you evaluate your life and think about what’s energizing and what's not. What will bring more joy into your life? What inspires you to jump out of bed each morning? 

Once you’ve discovered more about yourself, you’ll have an easier time finding your life purpose and being your authentic self in work as well as in personal life. Understanding what’s been missing from your life will help you learn about yourself. 

But don’t think you can finish this journey overnight. Self-discovery is an ongoing process. It requires you to dive in and examine all areas of your life and take the time to reflect. You’ll need courage and resilience to stick with the process — in the process of looking inward, you may learn things about yourself that you find hard to accept

Discovering your inner self also requires lots of self-awareness, otherwise known as self-knowledge. Self-knowledge usually refers to your knowledge of your own feelings, beliefs, and desires. If you have more of this in your life, you’ll have better emotional regulation. This will help you better your personal and work relationships and improve your stress management

Knowing more about the way your mind works also improves your empathy, helps you exercise better self-control, be more creative, and have higher self-esteem. You’ll even be more honest as a result. 

There are endless benefits to learning how to start a self-discovery journey. The important thing is to take the first step and get started. 

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How to start a self-discovery journey

You may feel intimidated by the prospect of embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Where do you even begin? The steps to self-discovery aren’t set in stone. That means you can start with whatever action feels right for you. Remember that having the courage to begin this journey is already admirable, so keep that momentum going.

Here are 11 tips you can follow to learn how to discover yourself:

  1. Work to be your best self each day, no matter what you’re doing
  2. Take risks and try new things
  3. Hone in on your passions and what makes you excited
  4. Understand your strengths and think about how you can apply them everywhere
  5. Start journaling your thoughts so you can reflect on them later
  6. Make sure you surround yourself with people who support you
  7. Learn from your mistakes and move on
  8. Think back to your childhood and connect with your inner child again
  9. Be curious and ask questions
  10. Build habits that support your personal growth and goals
  11. Practice positive self-talk and reward yourself for your wins



7 elements of self-discovery

Discovering your true self will help you feel more confident in your decision-making abilities. This is true for all areas of your life because self-discovery helps you understand yourself on a deep level. You’ll know better than anyone else what’s good for you.

As you work to improve your sense of self-awareness, here are seven elements to keep in mind:

  1. Reflect on where you started and what you’re accomplishing each day
  2. Zero in on what gives you energy and what zaps your energy
  3. Visualize the person you want to be
  4. Follow where your passions and interests lead you
  5. Let go of your inner critic and any self-doubt
  6. Choose a life of meaning and be purposeful with your actions
  7. Be proud of your power, grit, and resilience during challenging times


BetterUp offers the guidance and objective support — not to mention accountability — that you need to start your journey. We’ll help you chart an organized and purposeful plan toward self-discovery.

Why is self-discovery so important?

Self-discovery is important because it helps us live more meaningful lives. You learn how to take better care of yourself when you understand yourself. Plus, you might find a more fulfilling career if you’re connected to your true self. And if you’re on a career path you’re truly passionate about, you’re more likely to succeed

Perhaps you’ll learn that, although you’re an introvert, you’re also a people person. Taking care of our social health is always important, but maybe you need more social connection than you’d initially realized.

This also gives you more clarity on what you want your future to look like. By understanding yourself, you can chart a future that satisfies your needs and supports your well-being. Without self-discovery, you won’t live the most passionate and fulfilling life possible. 

Let’s say that you do some reflecting and realize that your favorite projects at work are the ones you lead. That probably means that you have a talent or a passion for leadership. With that in mind, you can work to become a manager. You’ll have a clearer career path and find a role that you’re more passionate about. 

And when you know yourself, you can recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you’re skilled at mindfulness, empathy, or compassion. Or you could be an amazing writer or public speaker. The best way to find out is to begin your self-discovery journey. 

This process can help you see where you need to grow, too. If you need to strengthen your communication skills, for example, taking the time to reflect on yourself will show you that.

The impact of your self-discovery will touch other people’s lives, too. You can put your newly sharpened skills to work in your social life and form deeper relationships. This authenticity will help you become a better friend, coworker, and family member. 

5 benefits of self-discovery


The road to self-discovery can look different for many people. But for everyone, it brings benefits that help you become your true self.

To put that into perspective, here are 5 benefits that you can experience after finding yourself:

1. Your relationships will thrive

Your relationships will be healthier when you better understand your core values and what you want out of your life. You’ll be able to identify toxic traits — yours or not — and solve deeper issues you have. You can then improve your social health by being more honest and open.

2. You’ll experience less self-criticism

Rather than criticize every mistake you make, you’ll know that mistakes sometimes happen because we’re human. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Plus, with more self-awareness, you’ll learn to avoid some mistakes. Understanding why you’ve made an error is the first step to preventing it from happening again.

3. You’ll feel more creative

Self-expression is key for letting others know how you feel and for becoming more creative. But how can you express yourself if you don’t know who you are? Self-reflection will help you find your identity and learn how to express it.

4. You’ll have a better ability to focus on what you truly want

The ongoing process of discovering yourself requires you to be committed and focused. That practice will help you set and achieve goals with a better sense of self in mind. You can plan a future that embodies who you really are.

5. Your self-confidence will increase

Believing in yourself and your abilities can impact your professional and personal life. With more confidence, you’ll walk into new experiences as a whole person™, not someone who shies away from challenges or change. And as you begin your journey of self-improvement, your confidence will continue to grow.

How to keep yourself engaged with your self-discovery journey

Self-discovery isn’t something that you start and finish in one afternoon. It could take months, a year, or more to get to a point where you feel content with what you’ve discovered.


Throughout that process, here are a few ways you can keep yourself engaged and learning:

  • Stay organized with the career and person goals you’re working to achieve
  • Find journal prompts that keep you stimulated and thinking
  • Listen to podcasts, read books, and watch videos about other people’s journeys to make you feel inspired
  • Ask yourself questions like “Why do I like these things?” or “What impact do I want my choices to have on my life?”

Remember, finding your true self and defining your life purpose will be more than worth it. 

Moving forward

The journey of self-discovery doesn’t involve only thinking about the future. It asks you to take a look at your past, too. Spending time revisiting past feelings and experiences can be tough. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help from your friends and family.

Knowing how to begin self-discovery is only the first step. In this process, you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone and ask yourself some hard questions. As you start, feel proud of yourself. It’s never too late to become more in touch with yourself and you’ll be so grateful you took the leap.

If you feel like you need some extra accountability to stay focused, BetterUp can help. You can experience what it’s like to reach new heights with a support system that brings out the best in you.

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Published May 24, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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