You think that we are one person, but in a sense you are four people:

1) Who you think you are

2) Who others see you as

3) Who you really are

4) Who you want to be

The first two “people” above are, in actuality, “views”. There is your own self-perception and there is the perception that others have of you. The second person is the real you. The fourth “you” doesn’t yet exist, but could be who you become in the future. Reaching out to become more like person number 4 is the part that is most related to setting and attaining goals.

The four “people” are never completely the same. But the more you try to make them the same, the better. If the view others have of you is the person you really are, then you are honest and consistent in your words and actions. If the view you have of yourself is fairly close to the person you really are, then you know yourself well and it’s easier to see what changes you need to make in order to become person number 4 (the person who you want to be).

So the question is: “How do you take the four and make them one (or at least as close to the same as possible)?”

Start by clearly defining each one.

The first one is the easiest. Writing it down is the best way. Describe yourself as thoroughly as you can. Ramble on in your description of yourself. List your likes and dislikes, your qualities and faults, and anything else that you can think of about yourself.

Next, do a survey of those with whom you interact regularly. Ask them to describe you honestly. Don’t have them write it down. It gives them to much time to think and edit their ideas. Explain to them that you want honest, frank opinions and that you won’t take offense no matter how negative some of their descriptions might be. Try to survey not only close friends but also colleagues and others who you might see daily (such as a doorman) even if you don’t feel like they know you well. Later, write down the general descriptions given to you by each person.

Now, sit down and do some deep soul-searching. As you look at the description that others gave of you, ask yourself if some of them might be correct. You might be surprised by what some people think about you. It is especially revealing when several people have the same perception of you and yet it’s markedly different than your own perception of yourself. Even if you can’t admit that you truly are the type of person that others describe, you might at least realize that this is the person that you seem to be because of things you do or say to others. By combining your own ideas about who you think you are with the perceptions that others have of you, you should have a better idea of the person you really are.

Finally, decide who you want to be. This is also best accomplished by writing.

Describe yourself exactly as you wish you could be. Spend a good deal of time on this and go into great detail. Describe how you look, act, talk, feel and think.

Combining the four of you into one is a long, complicated journey, but the steps above can provide a basic map to start you on your way.