True to your core? A quick re-evaluation to ensure you’re in the right place

November 10, 2009 by Jared Goralnick

Apple coreFrom time to time we need to re-evaluate what fills our days and question if we’re being consistent with who we are…or who we want to be.

This is a brief overview of why and how to quickly identify and minimize dissonance.  Skip to the end for the quick exercise.

Case Study: The Social Media Expert

For a while I was blogging a lot about social media, going to the events, speaking about it.  Today I see so many presumed social media experts, many who aren’t right for the position.  But I don’t fault them for taking on something that may not perfectly suit them, and I don’t think they’re just looking to make a buck.

People got involved with using social media for personal or professional reasons and realized they enjoyed it.  Then, lo and behold, there was a burgeoning market for coaching and consulting in it.  But many have started to realize they aren’t cut out for it.

Nevermind whether these people have acquired the requisite skills, it’s just that customer engagement and digital marketing aren’t where these people see themselves deep down.  There’s a difference between having a conversation and guiding a brand.  I’ve battled with this myself.

The Core

We’re all cut out for something.  But I don’t believe “we’ll know it when we see it”—I think we’ll only know it from looking back at the patterns in our lives.

When opportunities present themselves, it’s easy to jump on board and even enjoy it for a time.  But at some point we realize there’s a core to us: the ways we really kick ass, the experiences that feel truly remarkable, the facets that jive with our real self-identity.  And then there’s everything else.

It’s easy to do what we’re good at—to clear the food that’s on our plates.  But just because we’re good at something and it’s a way to make a living doesn’t mean that it’s true to who we are.  And when we get further from who we are, that leads to dissonance.


Much of my life has been a quest, as Adam Duritz puts it in All My Friends:

But everyone needs a better day
And I’m trying to find me a better way
To get from the things I do to the things I should

He was probably talking about how things work in relationships.  And I guess that applies, too.  But it’s important to be internally consistent in all parts of our lives, particularly in the place we spend 40+ hours every week.  To reduce cognitive dissonance.  To be true to ourselves.  And not just because its a romantic idea.  It’s because:

  • When we’re true to our core, we have far fewer necessary evils in our days
  • When we’re true to our core and we’re growing, we’re growing in the most valuable ways (as opposed to getting better at something that may or may not matter a year from now)
  • When we’re true to our core, people see us how we want to see ourselves

So How Do You Find Your Core?

If you don’t look for your core, you won’t find it.  And a sheet of paper might help:

On on the left side…

  • List out what you do at work
  • List out what you do at home

On the right side, take some time to think through the patterns of many of your past jobs and ambitions, and then…

  • List out what you’re absolutely best at
  • List out what feels the most rewarding to you
  • If there’s a mission or goal you’ve had for more than a few years, write that down

Sleep on it.  Then revisit the right side of the paper and tweak it a little.  Then compare and contrast the two sides.

And Now…

If there’s dissonance, how will you minimize it?  The obligations that weren’t necessary for me on the left (which weren’t on the right) I’ve completely cut.  I’ve begun to delegate the rest of these.  I’m trying to spend more time with what’s on the right.

What will you do to get closer to your core?

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6 Responses to “True to your core? A quick re-evaluation to ensure you’re in the right place”

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  1. Cecelia

    Great post. Gives a lot to think about.

  2. Elizabeth

    Spot on, Mr. Goralnick. Spot on.

  3. Anthony Mendez

    A very timely post as the New Year looms. Just don’t forget to remind your readers to overcome fear and just START something… anything. Sometimes we can over-think our intended direction and instead be paralyzed by fear. Thank you, Jared!

  4. Jacob Sam-La Rose

    Hey Jared – advance apologies for a potentially silly question, but how do the “things you do at home” relate to our core? I’m presuming you’re not referring to things like dishes n’ bins, though I can see how transferrable skills might pop up through the “home” list…

    This post has nailed an issue I’ve been grappling with for a while, and I’m planning to sit down and have a go at these lists sometime next week. Just want to make sure I’m pushing in the right direction!

  5. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Cecilia, Elizabeth, and Anthony : ).

    Jacob, I mention things you do at home as well as work not to include things like dishes, but more things like hobbies and interests that we may be particularly good at but don’t take place between 9 and 5. I probably could have been more clear! Best of luck to you : ).

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