I’m a big goal setter – when I don’t have a clear and actionable goal set out in front of me, I feel…….aimless. Like a ship drifting on the sea’s without a destination.
Providing myself a way point keeps me motivated, focussed, productive, and most importantly for my personality type, it gives me a sense of measurable achievement. Something I seriously struggle without.
That’s why, when I heard about Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring program, I was very intrigued.
I’m a fan of Jordan Peterson. I know that’s not a popular opinion amongst certain demographics, and even less common amongst the female population, but I like a lot of what he has to say.
As much as the extreme fringes of our society would like to pigeon hole him into his own extremist category, cherry picking quotes, taking them out of context, or plain old twisting his words, I’ve actually read his book and listened to his work, and I find him to be a very interesting and refreshing person.
He has common sense. And frankly, that’s not so common these days. While incredibly well-informed, he also speaks bluntly, true to his own beliefs, without editing out of fear of repercussion – something that, sadly, garners a lot of blowback these days.
I may not agree with every single view point he has, but really……who in the world agree’s with every single perspective another person possesses? And since when does the lack of 110% agreement on every topic mean we are entirely for or against a person? (Since the dawn of Twitter or Facebook perhaps?)
I also happen to really like Sam Harris, and despite the differences of opinion that both Sam and Jordan have (as demonstrated in their “debates”, which are less of debates and more akin to super interesting conversations) I think they represent two of the most interesting thinkers of our time.
So when my brother told me that he had purchased a 2 for 1 package of Jordan’s self-authoring program, and offered me the second package, I jumped at the chance to check it out.
I’ve been working through the program for the past 6 weeks or so, and I have to say, I’ve been impressed.
For someone who has spent a lot of time researching goal setting, and making every effort to be introspective about my life, goals, values and motivations, I was admittedly skeptical that I would get much value out of the process.
I was wrong.
Allow me to give a quick overview of what the program is all about, and then I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what I found most helpful, and what I could take or leave.
Self-Authoring by Jordan Peterson
The self-authoring program is a series of exercises that help identify negative and positive experiences from our past, address individual faults while nurturing our virtues, and establish a 3-5 year plan for how to create a meaningful, healthy, and productive future.
The program is split into 4 distinct parts.
The first is all about understanding, and thinking about our past. Remembering both the positive and negative experiences that have shaped our history, and the person we have become today. While taking a trip down memory lane can seem counter productive to some, recalling aspects of our path to the present can help us better identify where we want to go in the future.
The second component focuses on our present state. Specifically, the faults we’ve established as a result of our overall history and individual personality. It calls upon us to be realists when it comes to our own weaknesses and failings, to identify them clearly and pull them into the light. To confront them head on. Because it’s only once we’ve admitted our own shortcomings to ourselves that we can then create plans to make changes, or mitigate those traits.
And realistically, with proper recognition and attention, even our greatest faults can often become substantial advantages.
The third module remains in the present, shifting our gaze to our positive attributes. Applying the same logic as the second component, by drawing out and clearly identifying our strengths of character and talent. Again, by putting a spot light on these areas, we are better able to identify how we can lay future plans that incorporate those strengths, utilizing them to their full advantage.
The final chapter of the program calls upon us to envision our futures. Both our ideal future, and the future we are most fearful of. By plotting out both, we can implement a concrete, measurable plan of action to make our ideal future a reality, while guarding against the pitfalls that would lead to the future we most fear.
When I first started the program, I spent a lot of time on each question, overthinking, overanalyzing, and correcting all my typos. Such is the nature of a recovering perfectionist.
The program warns against doing this – I just didn’t listen. I assumed the warning was clearly meant for other people. I needed to deep dive into this program, to wring every last possibility of value out of the process.
Had I kept up that tactic, I would have been working on the program for the rest of this year.
What I needed to do was think briefly, let my words flow, ignore the typo’s, grammatical errors, styling, and whether or not the paragraphs flowed or made logical sense. I needed to just write.
Once I caught on to the process, things began to move a lot quicker. And I started to see a much clearer picture of my true aspirations, as well as their underlying motivations.
I was surprised to see myself list several goals that I thought were valid personal goals, only to reach a subsequent section regarding underlying motivations, in which I quickly realized the truthful motivator of the goal, when I really drilled down, was merely to impress other people.
There were also some where the deeply rooted motivation was strictly to boost my own confidence, or make myself feel more legit before pursuing paths of interest. By identifying these areas, I was able to openly question the necessity of these goals, and whether or not they would truly facilitate any meaningful progress in my actual end goals.
My Favourite Thing
My absolute favourite thing about this program was being asked to write in detail about the future I feared. What type of future could I create that would feel like a personal hell?
This is an exercise I’ve never engaged in before. It was incredibly revealing. It also drew my attention to the fact that there were actions I am taking right now in my life that could create aspects of that hellish future.
Actions that seem largely innocuous at first, but when compounded over time, could likely lead me down a very unpleasant path.
The primary one being that my day to day life is often centred around the needs of others and my level of productivity, with minimal attention paid to my own needs. This is not a new habit for me. This has been firmly rooted for well over a decade, and in hindsight has created a slow erosion of my own identity.
My identity, and the corresponding goals, then shift to align with my current role, whether that was in my past career, or in my current full time gig as a mom.
This is not exactly an uncommon issue, particularly for parents, but when I played out in my head how continuing to behave that way would materialize over time, it was a very unpleasant scenario. And worst of all – its most likely outcome would be to create rifts in the relationships that I value most, the same ones I regularly prioritize over my own individual needs. Ironic.
The process of identifying my goals also made it abundantly clear that my relationship with money is an interesting one. I feel uncomfortable when I am not maximizing my financial gains to the degree I could be.
Needless to say, that leaves me with a feeling of unsettledness in my current retired state.
Several of my goals notably involved monetary gain for no other reason than to accomplish monetary gain. While the logical part of my brain see’s the issue in this, I can’t quite get myself to a mental place where I feel like its permissible for me to simply invest my time in things I enjoy, regardless of economic return.
Deep down, I must admit, I like making money. I like saving money. I like watching my bank account grow. And I don’t particularly relish the idea of parting with it willy nilly. It’s like I’m a hoarder, but with money. I shouldn’t spend it – because maybe I’ll need it some day.
Ok, it’s not quite that bad, but I do really like the feeling of working hard, and seeing the monetary reward for that work. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever rid myself of that trait, or if I will just have to develop strategies to pacify that internal drive to continue levelling up.
After I worked through the program the first time – I decided that I should delve deeper into these motivations around money, so I went back and redid the whole program, but strictly through a financial lens. I drilled down into the financial experiences and habits in my past, identified my strengths, weaknesses, goals and underlying motivations, and envisioned my ideal financial future, as well as my worst financial fears.
Because I was familiar with the process, working through the program was much faster the second time around, and it helped me obtain even further clarity about how I want to use this tool of money, as well as the underlying motivators spawning those desires.
For anyone pursuing Financial Freedom or Financial Independence, I highly recommended doing the program from a financial perspective. It offers a structured manner from which to build a solid reflective understanding of your financial history, clarity of your money strengths and weaknesses, defined goals that you can question and hone, through understanding of the driving motivators, as well as a clear picture of the future you want to achieve (as well as the one you most want to avoid).
What I Liked The Least
If I’m being honest, there was nothing I didn’t like about this program. It was well laid out. It consistently saved my work for me, I never lost a single thing (something I’ve been known to do at work, and on this blog!), when I logged in it brought me right to the point I left off at. It was efficient and I got value out of each question and thought process.
If you are interested in taking the self-authoring program yourself, you can find it here.
I estimate that I spent a total of 12 hours, spread over 6 weeks working on the program. I think you could easily spend 8 or even 20 hours, depending on how in depth you want to get with your answers, but 10-15 hours is a reasonable time commitment that will allow you to answer the questions in a detailed manner.
Once you purchase the program, you can complete it as many times as you like, so there’s nothing stopping you from turning around and using the program to dig further into other specific areas of your life beyond finances, or overall freedom.
At a mere cost of $29.90 USD it will most certainly provide you with a substantial return on both the money and time invested. Frankly – the product was so good, that I plan to purchase Jordan’s personality assessment, and the accompanying report that is available on his sister website here.
The Bottom Line
If you are interested in improving your ability to set goals and develop an actionable plan for your financial future, this is an excellent tool to provide you with additional insight and clarity.
This exercise has definitely helped provide me with clarity of my goals and direction, particularly as I move forward with my 52 week journey into optimization and Finding Freedom.
If you’ve taken Jordan’s self-authoring program, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well! Please leave a comment, or send me an e-mail.
Or let us know what you think of our Finding Freedom journey so far! We love to get feedback from our readers, so we can ensure we are writing about things that bring you value! Next week I’ll write about my thoughts on the Personality Assessment, and if it was worth doing over other well-know assessments.