Any good coach will start by asking ‘What is it you are looking for?’.

In my area of coaching, many people are looking for better time management, or motivation to achieve a goal in life. Still others want to perform better at work. All are looking to ‘level up’ personally and professionally.

No matter the goal, the process to achieve it will be the ultimate destination of all real coaching — developing a greater understanding of our selves.

We all like to think that we’re self-aware (and some of us are). But self-awareness is just the first step on our journey to be and do better for ourselves and our families. What I and those I seek to help are working for is self-understanding and from there, self-actualisation.

Self-understanding, as I think about it, is a level above self-awareness because it allows you to accept and dance with your strengths and weaknesses; not just identify them. Self-actualisation is the achievement of one’s full potential, as defined by Maslow.

A journey of 1,000 miles…

To be clear, self-actualisation is hard.

But the journey, whilst tough, is hugely rewarding (or at least has been for me so far).

I am always on the look-out for ideas, concepts and tools to help take one more step towards knowing and getting the best from oneself, and this article offers one such idea.

It came to me whilst following the blueprint for crafting a personal philosophy by Jennifer Taylor Chan in her article “Here’s How to Create Your Own Personal Philosophy If You’re Sick of Everyone Trying To Tell You Who You Should Be”. In it, she poses 5 questions to help you build, define and articulate your own personal philosophy, but that’s for another day.

Question #4 was the one that sparked inspiration — “what is your enough?”. It was tough to answer.

Thinking about it though, I have asked people a variation of this question several times:-

Them: “I want more money!”

Me: “How much?”

“…more…“

We all want more time, more money, more stuff. But how much more? When will we have enough to be content? Try answering this question for yourself now.

Done?

Harder than it seems right? But taking the time to map out what ‘enough’ looks and feels like brings untold peace, confidence and clarity to your life.

How much is enough?

Answering the financial side of this question is a good place to start. Map out what your ‘ideal’ lifestyle looks like. How many trips abroad a year do you want to be taking? Where? How many meals out per week is your version of awesome? What clothing labels do you want to be able to afford? How much do you want to save monthly?

Next, price it up. Check out how much you would need on a monthly or yearly basis to do all the things you want to do.

Did the number scare you? Excite you? Calm you down? Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as you thought (or perhaps it was).

Whatever your number, you now know what your enough is. So what?

So now you know when you no longer need to desire more. You know the number at which you are set. Anything above that is great, but not necessary. You can walk away from it if you need to.

So what now?

Knowing how much money is enough is just part of the equation. It is relatively easy and measurable.

To move further towards self-understanding, you need to figure out what your ‘enough’ is in terms of values, people, spirituality and so on. This takes more than a couple of hours, but is worth doing what Kevin Carroll called ‘the lonely work’.

To get started, try sitting with a coffee (or something stronger) and a pen and paper and answering these two questions:

  1. What can’t I live without?

  2. What can I live without?

See what comes out. There is no right or wrong answer, only true answers or made up answers. The more honest you are with yourself, the more valuable the exercise.

If you’re interested in exploring other methods of developing self-awareness, understanding and actualisation, I cannot recommend this conversation between Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais and John Donovan, CEO of AT&T highly enough.

What have you found most helpful to develop self-awareness? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. You never know — your idea may be just the thing that someone else needs.