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Arthur van de Graaf

How do you keep yourself original and especially stay (true to) yourself? In the end, we all get inspiration from a specific situation we find ourselves in. Learning by doing, right? As you might already notice, no method is wrong, but endless copying and chasing your tail is not an option. Taking a moment for yourself to reflect is essential. Outline goals, as well. Or is only an end goal sufficient? In this article, I describe five questions you can ask (yourself) to stay true to yourself so that you reach your goals. Long story short: take everything with you but set your own goals and make your judgment.

1. Who are you doing it for? You (and no one else).
A common mistake we all make at some point is to copy behavior. For example, if someone you look up to or are close to says or does something, you tend to take it over. You also have people who care about you, who usually advise you to choose security. My overall advice is to store it in your backpack but to create your path. At Starters Station, we want you to be yourself and discover (the best version of) yourself. So that you can get started with your talents, your added value, or your true nature. Therefore, always ask this question again after you have decided to take advice to take action: Who do I do it for? For yourself, right? Who has an interest in it? Right. Bonus if you can inspire others with it.

2. Why are you doing it? This way, you keep going (at your speed).
Many people are doing something they don’t want to do, often due to social or financial pressure. On the other hand, everything has to be big, fast, and now. But ask yourself, who is putting that pressure on you? Sure, the world and its demands are changing fast. But often it is you because you require a lot of yourself. My advice to my younger self is to set goals, not deadlines. Deadlines are for (corporate) managers, not for free thinkers and creative solvers. Walk your path at the speed that suits your (current) situation and development. Sometimes it speeds up, and sometimes it slows down tremendously. Life happens. Tomorrow is another day because you know why you are doing it.

3. Who is the real advisor? Only you.
Often the advice is to read between the lines and not so much the given answer. In this paragraph, there is a series of questions to ask yourself: What is the advice? What is the recommendation based upon? Is it because the person has experience within your profession, situation, or a fresh look at the situation? From which angle is this approach or from which sector or niche? What (negative to positive) experiences on a business and personal level does the consultant have? Have you given enough information to receive good advice or judgment? In short, take the advice with you, but in the end, you are always the one who knows your situation best. You are the best assessor of your situation. You can test what you already thought about with the received advice to make the best decision. Only you can make this decision.

4. How do you get started? Aim at the map and find out.
Set goals, but of course! Big goals and small steps. Did you write them down? Ultimately achievable by doing it, wasn’t it? And ask for whom and why as just described in bullets 1 and 2? When you have that clear and have advised yourself about it as in bullet point 3, it is time to do. And starting to do something that later turns out to be something that you do not want or does not suit you is not necessarily wrong. As described, it also helps you to discover what you do not wish to, but partly because of this, you come into contact with new possibilities on the way to your goal, just by doing. Aim at the end destination and make your way there as there is no straight line to your goal. Peaks and valleys form you.

5. When is the goal achieved?
Oh yes, get used to it: finishing is never final. It is human always to be (unconsciously) busy with the end goal. But ask yourself: when is it good enough for you? And what exactly does this picture look like? Answering this helps you to get a better outline of your real goal and to make the road to it concrete. Again, happy journeying.

Bonus: So, learning from others? Yes please. But stay true to your goals. What I unfortunately still see is that people who are “inspired” literally imitate something that someone else already does. Please stop. Firstly, it is not inspiration but pure plagiarism, secondly you are tempted to a quick win. And this always comes with losers. It is your life, your path. Do something with it that you can be proud of, look back on with satisfaction. Become your own version of your example, the one who also inspires others. Purpose is pleasure in that case.

PS: I wrote this from my own experience. An experience full of mistakes, failures, trial and error that has made me who I am today. Can you identify with any of this? I would like to hear if you have any additions or suggestions!

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