No, that’s not a typo.

I was discussing the concept of self-identity with a close friend this morning, and it got me thinking about how so many of us are stuck in this whirlwind of personalities, but are never fully focused on ourselves. See, we live our lives with the expectations of others being at the forefront of our minds. Well, not all of us do that, but many do, from what I’ve seen. That can be really detrimental to our self-confidence and self-worth. It’s important to know who you are. I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, about how someone goes to college or travels the world to “find themselves”? Well, those can be expensive options! There are other ways to truly journey the path to finding yourself and figuring out who you want to be and what you want to do with your life, without having to invest thousands, or even hundreds of dollars! Shoot, this probably won’t cost you a cent!

Alright, so there are a few steps that I’ve broken down as the process to finding yourself:

Step 1: Lose Yourself

You’re probably thinking, “Umm..what?! Isn’t that the opposite of what I want??” Well, hear me out. When I say, “Lose yourself,” I’m suggesting that you detach yourself from everything that you are doing or thinking right now. Detach yourself from all of your expectations, and hold strong to nothing except for your faith. Always let your faith be your priority and guiding light.

Step 2: Ask Yourself…

Ask yourself some simple questions to identify what is important in your life. Write these down, if you’d like (I’d recommend it).

  • What are the different components of my life?
  • What impact do I want to make on the world?
  • What kind of person do I want to remembered as?
  • Most importantly, where do I want to go after I die (i.e. Heaven of Hell)?

Asking yourself these questions will not be easy. If you seriously think about them, by digging into the depths of your heart and soul, you’ll find that there is a lot about you that you didn’t know. After you have answered these questions, ask yourself what it is that inclines you towards those answers, and then revise your answers. Your answers may change or may stay the same. But, it’s smart to double-check.

Step 3: Lay Things Out

After you’ve asked yourself the above questions, set up a basic layout of the components of your life. Then, for each component, write down short-term and long-term goals.

Example (I’ve only included details for a couple of the components, to give you an idea):

Components and Goals (Short-Term and Long-Term)

  • Faith
    • (ST) Ensure that I pray every Salah as soon as the Adhan is called (i.e. don’t procrastinate for any reason)
    • (ST) Read one hizb of Quran after every Salah
    • (ST) Read something new about Islam every day, and apply it to my life
    • (LT) Memorize Surah Al-Baqarah
    • (LT) Complete recitation of Quran
    • (LT) Write notes on Tafseer of Quran
  • Family
    • (ST) Spend at least an hour with the family every day without any interruptions from work or friends
    • (ST) Spend more time with my baby sister
    • (LT) Take my sisters out once every 1-2 weeks
    • (LT) Go on family vacation once a year
  • Health
  • Career
  • Seeking Knowledge
  • Community

Step 4: Implementation

You’ve lost yourself, you’ve revised the things that make you who you are and who you want to be, and you’ve set some short-term and long-term goals. Now, it’s time to write out HOW you’re going to reach those goals. So, for example, for my goal to pray once the Adhan is made, I’ve decided to set alarms on my cell phone for Salah times.

A reality that we often don’t recognize is that these reminders and things like that aren’t enough. Without the determination and desire to get up and pray, the alarm will be no more than a sound. So, you have to ask yourself how badly you want to make this change and reach your goal, and must then remind yourself of that every time your alarm rings. If you don’t want it enough, but know that it’s a goal you’d ultimately want, then push yourself to want it more. Push forward, push hard. Keep striving towards these goals.

“Wait…I haven’t found myself yet…”

Patience, young jedi. No, seriously, it really is a matter of patience. No true, long-term growth comes with short-term efforts. As you take these steps, and work hard towards constantly revising and building on these goals, you will begin to discover yourself.

Here’s a little secret I’ll share with you, though: You will never completely find yourself.

The reason is a good one, so don’t panic. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Life is a journey.” Consider that saying and recognize that you will continue your life finding yourself and learning new things about yourself, because you will always be changing and growing. If ever you find yourself believing that you’ve found yourself, lose yourself again, because you probably miscalculated a step in your journey.

Life is filled with ups and downs, and often, you will find yourself afraid or unsure of decisions or steps. But, THAT is when you must take a leap of faith. Seriously! JUMP! Have faith that God will give you the wings to fly. I say this ALL the time, solely because one of the greatest lessons AND challenges I’ve faced in my life has been to realize that I can’t worry about the future. All I can do is work towards it today, and trust that God will show me the rest of the way. Yeah, that rhymed.

As you strive towards finding yourself, and you take that leap of faith, you may worry that you’re leaping towards something that isn’t good for you. When those thoughts come to mind, STOP. Think back to the first thing I said to do in this process. What was left behind when you lost yourself? Your faith. So, have faith as you take your leap, and know that God will guide you towards whatever is best for you. What’s “best” for you doesn’t necessarily include what you want, but instead, includes what you NEED.

Are you working towards a career, but don’t know if it’s right for you? Take the leap, and God will incline you towards the career that’s really best for you (which could be what you always wanted, or something else that you had never even thought of).

Wanting to get married, but are unsure about the person being right for you even though they make you happy and hold all the things you’re looking for in a spouse? Take the leap, and God will lead you towards that person or someone better. And if He leads you to a person, and that marriage leads to divorce, RECOGNIZE that God knew you needed that divorce as part of your path towards reaching your greatest potential.

Struggling with a major step in your life, like moving to a new place that you love and feel would be better for you, but are afraid of hardships that could arise from it? Take the leap, and watch how God protects you and guides you towards what truly is best for you.

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. – Quran (2:216)

It’s all part of His Plan. We may like some things, and dislikes others, but in truth, we should find peace in accepting that He is the Most Wise and the Most Compassionate, and that He will never lead us astray as long as we hold strong to Him.

And, holding strong to Him is the most important key to finding your self.