How to align your true self with what you love to do by knowing your basic nature and your signature traits
by Peter Axtell
In this post we’re going to unpack what It means to live in alignment with who you are and what you love to do. We’ll describe what signature traits are and what your basic nature means. We’ll attempt to get past the mindset that you can’t do the work you love to do because you can’t make a living doing the things you enjoy.
What your basic nature means
Your basic nature is the individual characteristics that make you unique. Aspects like how you think, feel, act and your personality traits. Aristotle believed that a human’s basic nature was the cause of humans to become what they become. How you think, feel, and act are clues about your signature traits and about identifying what you love to do.
Your signature traits
Your signature traits are what makes you “you.” There are five widely accepted broad categories of personality traits called the Big Five. The acronym OCEAN is helpful to remember them:
As an exercise, you could get very honest with yourself or ask a close friend which of the Big Five apply to you. Then prioritize them from strongest to weakest.
How you think, feel, and act are clues to identifying what you love to do
Your signature traits help identify how you think, feel, and act. We’re getting closer now to answering accurately the original question of this post: What would you do for free?
Motivation is pure emotion and is the cause that makes us behave the way we do
Most of us at one time or another, deep inside, have a dream, a longing to become something, to somehow realize our true potential. We strive to live our lives with what we personally regard as our true self. Isn’t that true for you? There is an alignment with what you love to do and expressing your true self. We’re going to address how you do that later in this post.
The things you love to do don’t take any outside force or coercion. The emotion of love for what you naturally love to do is the motivating force that causes your behavior. You do it because you love to do it. It’s that simple.
It seems with the present state of the world, that many have forgotten or have given up even imagining what it would be like to be in alignment with what you love to do and your true self.
In the US people work, work, work to get to the day when they can think about what they would love to do. Sadly, many times, they’re then too old to do what they love and it’s too late.
However, I am living proof that it’s nearly never too late to get in alignment. For me, it began after I was 60.
What would you do for free?
One of my heroes, Eric Edmeades, founder of the brilliant lifestyle change program WildFit put it this way: “If you can figure out what you would do for free, it’s like getting an extra eight hours of a day added to your life which makes it interesting.”
You wouldn’t waste your precious time watching mindless TV programs because you would be so fired up to do more of what you love. By the way, according to Nielsen, the average American watches 5 hours 4 minutes a day. That’s 35.5 hours a week and a little more than 77 days a year. Imagine how you could develop by reallocating even some of that time!
Putting it all together
The reason “get rich quick” programs don’t work for most people is because the program is not in alignment with a person’s basic nature. If you hate your job, it’s likely that it’s not in alignment with your basic nature. So, you need to figure out how knowing what your basic nature is, what you love to do, and match it with work and a work environment that is conducive to that. Here’s how:
- Do the Big Five exercise (from above) and identify your signature traits.
- Think about how you think, feel, and act in relation to your signature traits.
- Dare to dream a little. What would it look like, feel like, and be like to live your life doing what you love to do and being true to yourself?
- Make a list of the things that you are motivated to do without any outside force because you love doing them. Don’t listen to the voice of doubt in your head that says, “this is stupid and unrealistic.”
- Ask yourself: What would I do for free?
- Think about what you could do that would have the essence of what you love to do. For example, you love writing. Likely right now you can’t move to Italy and make a living writing, but you can find opportunities to write and hone your craft as you move closer to work you love.
Question: What would you do for free? Leave your answer in the comments section below.
Drawings by Peter Axtell