Self-discovery happens as the result of conscious mental and physical action. Doing the same things over and over is not conscious mental action, it’s passive unconscious automatic beahavior.
We think we are thinking because our brains are working, that is not thinking. Real thinking is active curiosity, analysis, planning, dreaming and questioning. When you carry on only doing the same things each day in the same ways, you are essentially living one day many times. But when you are actively thinking, you are living a new day each day. And your personal growth and development is based on self-discovery. If you don’t find out more about yourself, who you are and what you can do, there is nothing to grow into. Becoming aware of yourself right now is the first important step- you can’t do anything about what you aren’t aware of.
I learned this lesson in my early 20’s when I was the night shift foreman in a precision sheet metal shop in the Silicon Valley during the initial electronics boom of the 70’s. The owner of the shop had hired a new brake operator who said that he had 20 years of experience doing the job. In this shop situation we did many small run jobs so there was always a lot of setting up the machines required all day long. The idea of someone with 20 years experience excited me because I was the main person doing all the set ups at the time, which kept me running from place to place to keep everyone productive.
When I was introduced to this new man, he looked at me, the 20-year-old, and gave me this look like, who are you to be my boss? I didn’t let it bother me as I had been working with others much older than I for some time. I showed him the machines where he would be working and gave him a basic run down of the current task at hand, and left him alone figuring he knew what he was doing. After about 30 minutes I got a chance to go to see how he was doing, I figured he would be well on his way.
He had not done anything! And guess what, his demeanor had changed. Right then I found out that here was a guy that had been using this kind of machine for over 20 years and did not know how to make a simple set up for one. All he had done for all those years was to put the parts in, hit the pedal to make it operate, and pull the part out – someone else had made the set ups.
Now I am not saying this to brag rather to illustrate the difference in how we can spend our time. Here was a man that essentially lived the same year 20 times, never progressing with his knowledge, skills and activities. Then, I was a 20 year old who started this kind of work when I was 16 and at this time had been doing prototype work and now running my own shift making most of the set ups for everyone there. My previous 4 years were each different as I progressed through the learning and skill development process.
My point here is not to judge someone for wanting to remain doing the same things for years but rather to illustrate how we can look at our use of our time. Everyone has their own life path and certainly can choose as they will. But if you are not experiencing life as you have dreamed, you can do something about it. It comes down to choice, if you are enjoying your life as it is great. But if you have been thinking about wanting your life to be different and you can see that you have been doing the same things in the same ways for a long time, you can do something about it.
How this all fits into self-discovery is this, when your mind is actively working with questions, finding solutions, being creative, and trying new things you are setting yourself up to discover more. Just ask yourself this question, if what you are doing and how you are doing it is working and satisfying, why would you seek a different or better way? You wouldn’t. You mind is designed to help automate as much as possible for you so doing simple tasks and operating your physical body do not require a lot of conscious thought all the time. Can you imagine the mental burden if you had to consciously think about all this basic stuff?
Your mind is consciously engaged as you choose to engage it. Your conscious mind does always have something going on, but if you do not actively engage it, this thought tends to be mainly repetitive, as you know. In order to engage your mind you are actually asking it questions or giving commands. Your brain will serve to solve these questions and fulfill the commands. And this is when you really discover many things. You discover more about yourself, more about how to do something, and more of what is possible for you. All this because you are engaging your brain with active thought.
Take a look at what you are doing? Enhance your self-awareness. Are you moving forward at the pace you are happy with? Do you feel stuck in a repetitive cycle? Do you like where you are, or not? Asking questions of yourself is a great way to stimulate self-discovery and get your life moving in the direction you want. And, to find out what you are truly happy with right now. Personal growth and development is a daily ongoing process, to keep it going, pay attention every day.