What are your islands of personality?

As we’ve written about before, Inside Out is a treasure trove of lessons that we can all learn from. Today, however, I’d like to go down a more practical route.

In the Pixar film we see inside the mind of eleven year old Riley, where, among other creative metaphors, she has five “islands of personality”. These are representations of the five most important aspects of Riley’s life, namely; her family, honesty, hockey, friendship, and being a goofball. What I want you to do today is decide, what would your islands of personality be?

Why should you do this?

This is a fair question. This may seem a bit like a school exercise, but there is a reason why I’m asking you to do this.

Islands of personality is just another way of defining your key values. Values are what give us our sense of purpose, why we do what we do. When we understand our key values we are better equipped to make decisions about our lives, we can set better goals because we understand what our passions are and what really drives us. This exercise is designed to help us think this through, and decide what our key values are.

So what do you need to do?

Think about what is really important to you. Is it your family? How about your friends? Is it your work, or maybe your hobbies? Where do you find your zen and your happiness? Don’t just focus on today, what were your influences growing up? Were you a sporty kid? Did you have any passions when you were younger that helped you get to this point in your life?

I can give you a personal example. I spent some time thinking about my life, what I do, why I do it, and came up with a list of my islands of personality.

Friendship Island
I pride myself on being there for friends, being part of a group and giving value to those around me.

Creativity Island
I thrive being a creative person. This is why I have ended up in the line of work I’m in. I strive to be creative every day, in whatever form that takes.

Music Island
I’m not a singer or a musician, but having music in my life has always been effective when trying to staying motivated.

Knowledge Island
Knowledge and information has always been important to me. From a young age I would read anything I could, from Roald Dahl books to encyclopedias.

Diversity Island
I have trouble living in the routine. I love diversity, being able to explore, doing different things, and growing.

Now it’s your turn. What are your islands of personality?

And what next?

Now that you have your islands worked out, what to do with them?

It’s all well and good to do this exercise once and move on, but to be effective it’s important to keep your values front and centre in your mind. There’s a few ways you could do this…

  • Write them on post-its, and stick them somewhere you see every day.
  • Find photos that represents your islands and have them printed. Keep them in frames around your house.
  • Factor them into your other creative exercises, like your morning pages.
  • Discuss them with your spouse or your friends, it’s easier to live by your values if those around you know what they are, or even better share them with you.

Of course we’d like to hear what you come up with, and I’d love to see how you find a way to integrate them into your lives. Share your islands in the comments below, and if you’ve found a cool way to keep them front and centre in your mind, share them on Facebook.