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Finding your personal brand

How do you want the world to see you?

As you get older, you will naturally start to think about your future life and career. Who do you want to be when you reach adulthood? How would you like other people to see you?

It's totally normal if you don't know the exact answers to these questions. Our dreams and aspirations can change throughout our lives. But when it comes to thinking about starting your career or continuing your education, it might be useful to put some thought into your strengths, weaknesses and special interests. This is sometimes known as building your personal brand.

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand refers to how you promote yourself to the outside world. It can be a combination of your lifestyle, your career and how you portray yourself in person and online.

Many employers and even college admissions departments may now take aspects of your personal brand into consideration when considering you for a position. This means it's more important than ever before to think carefully about what you're putting out into the world, and how it reflects back on you.

Things to think about

What are your strengths?

You will almost always want to put your strongest aspects first when creating your personal brand. These can come in many forms.

  • your strongest study subjects (maths, languages, science etc.)

  • your personal interests (cinema, music, fashion etc.)

  • your special talents (singing, sports, acting etc.)

  • your most positive personality traits (loyalty, leadership, good listener etc.)

Think about how these positive traits could be of value to you in college or at work, or even just in the way you present yourself online and in person.

What are your weaknesses?

We all have weaknesses, and they're nothing to be ashamed of. Overcoming challenges can be a great way to demonstrate maturity and accomplishment. Think about the areas where you sometimes struggle. 

  • study subjects you find boring, or difficult to understand

  • things you wish you were better at, such as sports, public speaking or cooking

  • parts of your personality you'd like to improve, such as a short temper, jealousy or forgetfulness

Think about things you can do to overcome some of these weaknesses, if you feel they're holding you back. You could also think about them when considering your future. Not every job requires you to be good at everything, so having an awareness of areas where you tend to struggle might help you to avoid situations that aren’t going to allow you to be your best self. 

What is your communication style?

Are you a person who likes to talk through ideas and lead a conversation, or do you prefer to sit back and listen? Do you find it easier to work alone, or do you do better as part of a team?

Think about how you interact with your friends and family. How you like to communicate is a huge part of how others will see you. Think about how your natural communication style might fit into your career. Will you thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment or might you be happier in a more relaxed situation where you’re able to work at your own pace?

How do others see you?

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how we are seen by others, even our closest friends and family. Write down the image you have of your personality, and then ask somebody you trust to describe you honestly. You might find that there are some surprising differences.

Knowing our blind spots is important, as it can help us to challenge our assumptions and better understand how we appear to the outside world.

What motivates you?

Ideally, we all want to follow a path in our life and career that we will find rewarding. As you develop your personal brand, it's a good idea to stop and think about the things that motivate you. 

  • Do you enjoy helping people?

  • Would you like a career that allows you to be creative?

  • Do you thrive under pressure or do you perform better in a more relaxed environment?

  • Is flexibility and the opportunity to set your own hours important to you?

  • Would you like the opportunity to travel a lot, or do you prefer staying closer to home?

There are many different factors that might be important to you personally. Write a few of them down and consider how you might incorporate them into your life and career in the future. Speak to or research the people you admire and find out how they managed to bring their passions into their daily lives. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a clear goal in your mind.

Writing your personal mission statement

Now that you've spent some time thinking about what drives you and the kind of person you want to be, see if you can capture it in a single sentence. It could be something as simple as 'I want to be a person who makes life better for others' or as ambitious as 'I want to build an industry-changing business'.

Whatever it is, keep it in mind and let it guide you through the many challenges and adventures that your future may hold.

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