how to be happy

Who Do You Want To Be? Create A Character Study For Your Ideal Self

“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.” ~Cary Grant

Who do you want to be? I’m not asking who you are now or what kind of life you want to have, but what kind of person do you want to be? One of my favorite literary characters of all time is Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. Gregory Peck played the role in the movie, and he perfectly captured the character of the quintessential wise father and a man of compassion, honor, and integrity. I wanted to know him, and I wanted to be like him.

Role models are a good way to begin defining who we want to be. It may not be Atticus for you, but you probably know the people whose demeanor, behavior, and values are inspiring and motivating for you. You are a better person when you are around them.

Sometimes we look at those people and think, “I wish I could be like that.” They have their act together, but I’m too emotional, angry, sad, insecure — whatever the story happens to be.

  • We feel stuck in our feelings, heartaches, and life events.
  • We want to indulge our anger and feel glued to our pain.
  • We feel incapable of becoming the who we want to be because life throws too much at us, so we must react.
  • We believe that our personality is “set” and that substantial change isn’t really possible.

In relationships we seem to step farthest away from the “who” we want to be. Perhaps we defend our turf or feel certain we are right. We lash out because we’ve been wounded or misunderstood, and we want to equalize the pain.

But is that really the highest vision we have for ourselves?

Living that vision of our highest self, the “who” we want to be, is not impossible to achieve. In fact, you can be that person today if you first take a moment to step back and sketch out a character study for the “who” you want to be.

Here are some very simple exercises to help you define this vision for your ideal self:

1. Sit down with paper and pen and write down the qualities of this person, this new you. For example, I want to be a person who is honest. I want to be a person who doesn’t yell at my children. I want to be a person who follows through on commitments. I want to be a person who solves conflicts without condemning or belittling. I want to be a person who lives simply.

2. Dig a little deeper and write some examples of how and when you will become this person. For example, as an honest person, I will be true to myself and my own needs, as well as being genuine and trustworthy with others. Even when my children push my most sensitive buttons, I will strive to remain calm and centered. In my effort to live simply, I will have fewer daily tasks so I can focus on them mindfully and completely. Find the places where you are farthest from your ideal, and specifically define the actions that you aspire to.

3. Play the part of the character until it becomes natural for you. If you must pretend at first, then do it. Act as if. In your next encounter with your misbehaving children, act as if you are the calm mother next door. The next conflict you have with your spouse or another relationship, act as if you are capable of giving unconditional love and support — and then give it, in spite of their reactions, comments, or misunderstandings.Yes, it will feel false at first, but with practice, you will transform.

4. Rehearse daily and be a creator, not a reactor. Now that you have a character study of your ideal self, continue to create this person every day. You are the author of your life and your behavior. Don’t give away your vision just to defend your ego. It’s never worth it. Don’t let your initial reactions undermine your new creation. Revisit your character study regularly as a reminder of the role model you have created for yourself.

5. You can always revise and re-write your ideal self. Because we are human, we fail and falter at being the who we want to be. But every day we have the opportunity for a revision. We can correct our course and step back into our ideal self. And along the way, we might want to adjust our vision to accommodate our personal evolution. As we change and grow, we may want to expand our self-character study, adding more dimension, subtlety, and flexibility.

So often we struggle to make everyone else conform to the “who” we want them to be. Think of the hours spent trying to script the behavior of others. But there is only one character in your life story whose behavior and reactions you can alter — your own.

Write the story of who you want to be. Create a character who could be a role model to others. Define the actions, responses, and values of this person. Then go live it. Before you know it, that new who will be you.

Barrie Davenport is a personal and career coach and is the founder of Live Bold and Bloom, a blog about bold and fearless living. She is also the editor-in-chief of The Daily Brainstorm.

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25 Responses to Who Do You Want To Be? Create A Character Study For Your Ideal Self

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Who Do You Want To Be? Create A Character Study For Your Ideal Self | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement --

  2. M. A. Tohami says:

    That’s a nice idea Barrie.

    I would also like to add that MODELING SHARPEN YOUR MOLDING.

    As you practice your passion and sharpen your skills, look for successful people in your field and model their performance, style and success. This is the best tactic I know to mold your skills and character the right way.

  3. Farouk says:

    i like the idea of the post Barrie,
    thank you :))

  4. Pingback: Who Do You Want To Be? Create A Character Study For Your Ideal Self | Lumpuckeroo | Self Improvement - Overcoming Lumpuckeroo

  5. Miss Ash says:

    I love this concept!

  6. Hi Farouk and Miss Ash,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Miss Ash, from your photo, it looks like you are already creating a character! :)
    Thank you for your kind comments.

  7. Great concepts you share here. #3 reminded me of a trend I’m starting to see on twitter. There is a growing sample of twitterers that are creating fictional accounts to play out different characters they admire.

    In an article about this trend, many of the people who have these accounts feel they can’t help acting more like that character in real life as well.

    Maybe you can play your role as Aticus Finch on twitter to help you reach that in your everyday life as well 😉

  8. joyce courtney says:

    Barrie: Such wisdom and insight Thank you for taking the time to put it on paper for us. I think i may want to be more like you. :-)

  9. Andrzej says:

    Good list, I hope many people will read it, because quite often people struggle with changing on someone else image by doing same things as their idol or doing things in same way. And that’s just shallow copying. In most cases it leads nowhere… ;/

  10. Hi Bryce, Courtney, and Andrzej,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments.
    Bryce, I didn’t know about that trend. I’d like to check out the article. Thank you for sharing that.

    Courtney, you made my day! How sweet. Since I’m now a role model, I am standing up a bit straighter!

    Andrzej, you are right — shallow copying isn’t the same as being inspired and wanting to emulate someone. Having role models is the way we learn. Our parents are our first, and if we are lucky, there are other great mentors in our lives.

  11. Kevin says:

    I love the idea of the post. Have you thought of maybe creating a template for people to use in their character studies?

  12. The Vizier says:

    Hi Barrie,

    I love role models! In fact, one of the reasons that I am such a huge history buff is that I love to read about the various emperors and generals whom I admire and want to be like. One of the ways I use role models is to select a person with qualities that I am lacking in. For example, I am not the most patient person on Earth. This is why one of my favourite role models is Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate who was famed for his inhuman patience. Another would be the Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos who devoted his life to protecting his empire.

    Role models are a great way to help you grow as a person. The best part is that we can pick and choose the parts we like.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

    Irving aka the Vizier

  13. This is interesting post. Yes, it happens to be that sometimes in our life, we are so deeply influenced by a person’s character that we want to be like him. Now, that person could be our friend , our teacher or even a celebrity. But, what I feel that since everyone is unique in their own way, one can adopt the good traits from that person and still live life in their own way.

  14. H Tan says:

    i like ur post. sometimes, the best role model is yourself. u wrote a very good post i am thinking of printing.

    h tan

  15. Hi Kevin,

    That’s a great idea — I hadn’t thought of it until you suggested it. Thank you!

    Hi Irving, so fun to see you here! You have some great role models. Now I’m intrigued and must go read about them. Thank you for sharing.

    Winning Ideas, you have said exactly what I was hoping to communicate. Role models inspire us to bring out the best in ourselves.

    H Tan, I am so glad you liked it. I hope it is useful for you!

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  17. Doug Rosbury says:

    I’m a lonely depressed individual at 75 years old and seemingly burdened with a good intellect and my thinking has me isolated. Born 5-6-35 Detroit, Mich 9 am.
    I wont go any further. (???????????)

  18. amy says:

    I do like this concept very much. However, upon brain storming a list of women to choose from I discovered something painful. Maybe I am not looking in the right places, but the women in our history or not well-rounded. Being well rounded is a quality that I would like to strive towards. The women I thought of tend to be either highly intellectual and lack warmth, ie Hillary Clinton or extreme in one way of the other Joan of Arc or Mother Theresa. I realize the historical conditions in which they emerged called from extreme behaviors, I am looking for some women who aren’t so extreme in one way or another. Any suggestions?

  19. Thank you for your post. I followed a link here from 43Things, the goal being being the goal being in 2011, live like the person I’vealways wanted to be. Then the question is, “Who is that person?” Your outline gives a good way to find out. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Solanok11 says:

    this was an amazing article on self improvement.  the steps and structure were very well put together. 

  21. Pingback: Alignment and Innovations in Self |

  22. Mansur Khal says:

    I am the same person actually. But I am quite younger than you.

  23. Jade Almand says:

    This has really turned my day around – and hopefully my life. Thank you

    Jade Almand

  24. Pingback: Create a character for yourself. Is that you? « Samantha Y.Almeida's ePortfolio

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