We’re nine days into the new year. Have you decided what 2018 will be like for you?

The team at Young Church Leaders has some ideas about what we can do to come alongside you with encouragement, wisdom, and resources the next twelve months.

Since January brings along hopes and resolutions for the new year, we wanted to give attention to emotional health. Specifically, we want the month of January to be all about that double-edged sword we call self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the extent to which you know the good, bad, and ugly about yourself along with how you impact and relate to the people around you. Some people are naturally self-aware and can navigate where they need to grow and adapt in their relationships and how they understand themselves.

But we probably know just as many people who make others feel awkward, those who have no idea how condescending they sound, or those who think of themselves as hard-working but others know they’re an excellent example of lazy.

Many of us make commitments to change something about ourselves each and every year. At the heart of this practice is the noble desire for us to grow, get better, and get healthier.

Later this month, we’ll talk about tangible and concrete ways to grow in our self-awareness. Before that happens, we wanted to throw out a few ideas and resources we at Young Church Leaders have found helpful in terms of how we’re wired, tools for self-reflection, and ideas for making 2018 a year to better understand ourselves.

The Myers-Briggs Type indicator

This comes from the idea that there are 16 distinct personality types out there. Initially pioneered by research from psychiatrist Carl Jung, this test lets you know how you get your energy (people v. alone time), how you process information, and how you make your decisions.

You can take the test a number of places including a very user-friendly one at 16personalities.com. A cool way to see how this impacts you as a disciple of Jesus, the guys at the Jesus Film Project have put together a fantastic guide that takes into consideration MBTI types and how you can follow Jesus as yourself. I am an INTJ!

Check it out here: Myers Briggs Discipleship Guide

The Enneagram

This tool has been gaining in popularity over the last few years. The enneagram is a test and visual tool that helps us understand how we engage with the rest of the world by helping us discern what combination of nine different possible roles we play.

People are on of or a combination of the following: reformer, helper, achiever, individualist, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger, or peacemaker.

Just like anything, this test doesn’t define us nor is where we get our identity. But it is a unique and cool starting place to help us explore how God created us. By the way, I am equal parts reformer and investigator.

Check out an interview with the author of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth from Relevant Magazine here: Read Interview

The Proust Questionnaire

In the 19th century, French writer Marcel Proust devised a list of 30-some interview questions that helps bring out someone’s unique personality. The Proust Questionnaire is most widely known today to readers of magazine Vanity Fair, which includes a different celebrity going through the interview with each new issue.

Years ago, I was in the practice of answering the questionnaire on each New Years Day to see if and how I had changed over the course of the previous year. Admittedly, this self-reflection tool eventually took on a melancholy tone for me, which is why I haven’t picked it back up in a few years. I still would recommend it as a unique tool to go through at least once.

To get a feel for it, you can read the late, great David Bowie’s answers to the Proust Questionnaire here: David Bowie Proust Questionnaire

Choose One Word

This is a practice I am doing for 2018. Instead of a resolution, the idea is to come up with one word that will define or guide your entire year—kind of like a theme for your life.

When I did this for the first time in 2015, I chose the word ‘vulnerable.’ It made a huge difference in my relationships and even lead me to see a professional Christian counselor, which brought so much peace, clarity and understanding into my life and relationships. Picking the right word can make a huge difference.

This year I have chosen the word ‘gentle’. Honesty is one of the hallmarks of my personality which means I can sometimes be perceived as harsh or unnecessarily critical. I don’t want that for myself or others, so I’m hoping to bring some gentleness into my life.

If you want to read a book about this, check out One Word That Will Change Your Life

Live Out Your Name

One thing I considered for this year was to live out the meaning of my first and middle names: Andrew Michael. Andrew means ‘strong, manly” and Michael means “gift of God” or “Who is like God?” In finding out that attributes found in your name meaning you could possibly lean into weaknesses or even make strong aspects of your personality even healthier.

Had I done this for 2018, I would have explored the Biblical/Christian understanding of what it means to be strong and to be a man. I’d also lean into my middle name and explore how to point people to the awesomeness of God and/or be a blessing to those I relate with.

This will likely be a 2019 practice for me.

Send Out a Survey

An exercise you could do is gather an inventory of perspectives from the people in your life who you’re close to. Make a list of the people you love and trust and ask them to answer a few questions about you:

What strength of mine should I develop?
What weakness or blindspot should I give attention to?
Do you have any specific advice for me?

If you want to be really brave, set it up in a way that they can all answer anonymously!

What are some other practices or tools you’ve used to grow in your personal understanding and self-awareness?