How to Accept Yourself and Become Who You Want to Be
A unique perspective on self-discovery and personal growth.
When I first met my wife in graduate school, she asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up. The absolute — highly delusional! — truth was that my dream was to play basketball in the NBA. I didn’t just occasionally dream this. I thought of it — All. The. Time. At first, my dream was to play Division 1 college basketball.
Neither one of those dreams came true. Yet my dream of playing college basketball did, at the Division 3 level. It was there that reality finally hit me — I wasn’t quick enough, fast enough or nearly a good enough defender. Not exactly the qualifications for matching up against LeBron James and Steph Curry.
When I started doing some real soul-searching 10 years ago, I came to accept the fact that life doesn’t always work out how we think it will when we’re younger. For so long, I was a dreamer that didn’t adjust or adapt when the idealist things that I wanted didn’t pan out. I actually went through a period of shame and disappointment that led to avoidance.
This avoidance led to laziness and not applying myself the way that I should. The things that I did end up doing to make money weren’t satisfying. I didn’t give things my all. Maybe, no matter where you are in your career, you can read this and relate.
It wasn’t until I really began to accept myself for who I am that I realized I could carve my own path to success. I didn’t have to live by someone else’s rules or perceived notions of who I was — or what I could become. So, I invested significant time in my personal development. Honestly, giving my best in all situations is what has made the biggest difference.
Every time I’ve earnestly and industriously given my maximum focus and effort to any task, things have worked out in my favor. In life, giving your best, taking care of yourself and coming back each day with consistency is all you can really do.
Move Forward and Accept Yourself
We’ve all failed. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all been wounded in relationships. Every one of us has painful memories and experiences that have left scars on our souls. And we often don’t like to look back at these times, so we ignore them. We don’t quite move forward — we just freeze them in time and try to avoid them. But that NEVER works.
One of life’s greatest lessons is to make sense of your past experiences, extract all that you can learn from them, place those lessons into use in your life and begin building your new future. You must make peace with disappointments and failures. It will be the best thing you ever do if you have the courage and confidence to act.
You’ll recognize that life’s greatest successes come from life’s greatest failures. These successes are built on solid plans and habits that fuel the process of self-discovery. One exercise I use regularly with my coaching clients is called, “The Thought Life Cycle.”
Thought → Desire → Belief → Plan → Action
Start with your thoughts. Shut out the negative, doubting, fearful voices and begin to amplify your inner voice of enthusiasm, joy and determination. Start building a desire and back it with faith. The power of faith is the belief in yourself, belief in others and a belief in a power perhaps much larger than yourself.
Then, you want to begin writing and speaking your dreams over your life. Be honest and accept the way you feel about the life you want to live. Be bold. Be unafraid. Any plan is only worth the self-sacrifice and commitment to action that you’re willing to make.
Self-Discovery Leads to Growth
Of course, plans will change but that’s not the point. I didn’t make it to the NBA, but I’m now an author of two books, a speaker and coach. I love what I do. I never would have gotten here if I didn’t accept my past and commit to discovering my true self. The point is to commit.
You truly can achieve the dreams you want if you’re willing to plan and act on them. But you have to adjust because you will change, the world will change and so will the people around you. Accepting who you are means re-committing every day to the life you want to live. It means taking action.
No one ever starts hoping for second-best. If you’re not living the life you want to live right now, don’t give up. Accept what’s happened, make your peace with it, and keep learning more about yourself. Live with purpose and passion.
The people who live their best lives are the ones that accept their past, re-calibrate their plans and move forward. Be willing to do the personal development work necessary so that you confidently accept yourself for who you are. When you commit, it will change your life and help to you to reach the dreams you’ve always hoped would come true.