When 100’s of employees from a local company were laid off and asked if they wanted to continue in same industry with a similar job, many responded quite simply – no. So when asked why they kept working in the business for so many years, the more complicated answer was – I don’t know. Self discovery is the first step in any career life journey, but most of us don’t take the time to fit it into our busy lives, moving from role to role as opportunities present themselves without taking the time to ask the most important question – is this the best choice for me to live my best life?

Summer can be the perfect time to slow down and think about what’s important to you, what you want out of life and reflect on what you’ve been focusing on over the last 6 months. Maybe all you need is permission to take some time alone, to clear your mind and open your heart to what life has to offer. It’s all possible, but first we challenge you to spend some time alone, maybe journal any ideas or thoughts that come to you as you unwind. Research is increasingly telling us that without the process of actively thinking about our experiences, and questioning ourselves about what they mean, learning doesn’t really happen. What gets us from experience to understanding is reflection. Reflection also helps to provide deeper learning by looking at situations through a different lens and by asking yourself searching questions that challenge one’s assumptions about the world around you.

Finding time for yourself takes effort and requires you to put yourself first. There are many ways to slow down, quiet time on a beach or in your backyard. Or even easier, some uninterrupted time in the tub. Or, pick up a book you’re interested in reading. There are many books that can help you through your journey of discovery, fiction and nonfiction. Stories help you to uncover your thoughts and feelings about a characters values, beliefs and behaviours. Simply search the internet using some key words, or check out the local library and talk to library staff about what you’re interested in. Regardless, self-discovery doesn’t have to be an onerous task.
Here’s some questions to get you started. Who do I admire most and why? What was I doing, where was I and who was I with when had some of the most fun in my life? If time, money and resources were not an issue, what would I be doing? If all I had left was 1 year, how would I spend it? What do you want people to say about you at your 99th birthday party? The responses speak directly to your values… ‘I was a good person. I did something good for my community. I was a fun person to be around. I was good to my family. I laughed a lot.’ Not surprisingly, we never hear about having lots of money. One day after facilitating this exercise we a group of youth, an older gentleman came over to us and told us something he and his wife used to say that made us laugh…”We’ve never seen a Brinks truck following a hearse.”

In the early self-discovery stages, it’s better to think about what’s really important to you and what you really want out of life. In the later stages to career discovery the focus shifts to more detail such as budget necessary to ensure your needs to meet goals are met. Let the time alone this summer open your mind, allow you to dream and let your true self be free of limits. What a better time to do that, than on a warm summer day.