Idealized Self Definition Essay

by Kimberly Fulcher


In my work as a professional coach, I've had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of individuals. I've found that people who are successful and fulfilled share common characteristics.

  • They believe their success has very little to do with what they have, and everything to do who they are.
  • They hold an ideal about the kind of person they want to be.
  • They're willing to step into that vision, and hold themselves accountable to high behavioral standards.


The quality of your life is predicated by the manner in which you participate in it. Your participation is based on who you believe you are. Unquestionably, you have beliefs about who you are, even if you've never consciously considered them. Today, I challenge you to examine and expand on these beliefs. I challenge you to develop not only an understanding of the person you are today, but a solid vision of the person you dream of becoming.

Your Ideal Self

To create an ideal reality, you must develop a vision, which is an idea about how you'd like the future to be. It's a clear picture of what you'd like to create, and can be a source of motivation, supporting you through the challenges involved in making your dreams come true.
An ideal is a principle or standard worth trying to achieve. Your ideal self is the person that you've always imagined being, and encompasses all the power, strength, and integrity, you've aspired to. This ideal invokes a sense of confidence, pride, and serenity, and is you, at your best.

There are three steps involved in defining this amazing person. First, you must connect with the qualities or character traits that guide her behavior.. Once you've defined these individual characteristics, you need to identify the behavioral standards that she holds herself to. Finally, you must decide that you are going to show up in your life acting "as if" you are already this person. Let's move through each step.

Your Character Traits

All of us possess positive and negative characteristics. It's important to identify all of your personal characteristics as you develop your vision of the person that you're committed to being. Make a list of the positive traits you'd like to incorporate in your ideal vision, and the negative tendencies you'd like to manage. In my work with clients, I've found the following approaches helpful in defining these qualities.

Other People's Traits

The qualities we notice in others have meaning. Both the qualities you admire and dislike have stories to tell. The qualities we most respond to in another, whether positive or negative, are qualities we possess, but have yet to recognize in ourselves.

If you find yourself responding to a person you recognize as outgoing, positive, and energetic, these may be qualities you possess, but have not fully embraced or developed. In kind, if you react to the overbearing nature of another individual, you may need to recognize your own tendency to be overbearing.

The Traits of Our Past

We've all experienced moments where we shined. Your may have accomplished something extraordinary. You could have experienced pride as a result of persevering through a difficult situation, or been touched by your ability to contribute to another person's life. It's at these times you were applying the positive traits you naturally possess.
Conversely, we've all had experiences that filled us with regret. Perhaps you spoke harshly to someone you care for, or were impatient when with your child or mate. It's in these moments your negative traits were at play. Once you've defined the building blocks of your behavior, you're ready to consider the way that you'd like to show up in your life.

Your Code of Conduct

I'm not suggesting you move into life with the persona of Pollyanna. I'm suggesting you consciously develop a set of standards to govern how you're committed to behaving. In coaching, we refer to this as a Code of Conduct. Your Code of Conduct defines how you'll behave, and determines how others experience you, and how you experience life. What commitments are you willing to make about how you'll conduct yourself?

Act As If

Change doesn't happen over night, but it can be conditioned over time. Once you've defined your ideal self and your Code of Conduct, you'll have a structure to support your behavior. Your next step requires you to begin living as the person you've envisioned. Your opportunity to be this person lives in each moment of your life.

Every morning, remind yourself about the person you want to be, and reconnect with that vision whenever you begin to slip back into old patterns of behavior. Allow yourself to make mistakes. You will, and that's okay. The commitment you've made to these new standards will gradually meld into the beliefs you hold about who you are. Soon, you won't be reminding yourself that you're a nurturing person; you'll be one. You won't be managing your impatience; you will have become more patient. It will happen slowly, but it will happen. Take baby steps. You are walking a new road. Put one foot in front of the other, pace yourself, and stay connected to your ideal.


Interested in reading more, or in finding out about our programs and services? Join our FREE newsletter community at www.compasslifedesigns.com.

Kimberly Fulcher is a professional coach, author and speaker, with twelve years of experience in human development. Her professional experience includes the co-founding and $ 38 million dollar sale of SkillsVillage.com, and her leadership of a leading Silicon Valley consulting firm, where she grew revenues from $3M to $25M in four short years. Kimberly sits on the board of directors for The Silicon Valley Coach Federation, and actively supports non-profit organizations that benefit underprivileged women and primary education initiatives. Kimberly offers group and individual coaching programs, speaks throughout The United States, and will publish her first book "Life Fitness - Nine Steps to a Balanced Life" in 2004.

Ideal Self

According the Humanistic Psychologist Carl Rogers, the personality is composed of the Real Self and the Ideal Self. Your Real Self is who you actually are, while your Ideal Self is the person you want to be.

The Ideal Self is an idealized version of yourself created out of what you have learned from your life experiences, the demands of society, and what you admire in your role models.

For example, your parents are medical doctors who are respected and admired in the community, and experience tells you that in order to be happy, you need to be smart and have a high-paying job. Your Ideal Self might be someone who excels in science subjects, spends a lot of time studying, and does not get queasy at the sight of blood. If your Real Self is far from this idealized image, then you might feel dissatisfied with your life and consider yourself a failure.

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