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Book Review: Defining You

For people to reach their full potential, they need to first understand who they are. In Defining You, Fiona Murden offers her readers exercises that incorporate reflecting, collecting, and doing. Murden believes that when people spend time thinking about who they want to be and explore available opportunities and their place in world, they will know who they truly are.

Knowing one’s purpose helps people understand intrinsic motivations for the things that keep them going regardless of what else is happening in life. Readers identify areas where they feel they want to change or grow, the values that define them, and how it all aligns with their primary purpose. Each step in the book builds on what is learned in earlier exercises. Ultimately, readers will have identified short-term goals and a development plan, as well as the long-term goals for what they envision in the future.

Murden separates her book into three parts: Reflecting, Insights, and Doing, which represents the process people go through in self-discovery.

Reflecting, the first part, reveals insights and inspires action to build understanding of a person’s profile, and most people in this busy world don’t do it enough. Murden encourages readers to demonstrate curiosity by seeking out new experiences, by simply observing what is around them, and by observing reactions to things so they know what may need changing. Reflection includes understanding the meaning that people create, which is what keeps people going even when times are tough.

Collecting, part two, introduces the use of psychometrics. Murden focuses on five dimensions of personality: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotion, and agreeableness — traits that influence how people interact with each other. Gathering this insight about strengths and weaknesses points to areas for development. As people gain insight into themselves through psychometrics, they can start to take action.

Doing, part three, takes the insights from part two and allows a person to take behavioral steps towards meaningful change. Murden explains that Doing gives you a chance to “summarize the themes relating to your core personality, values, passions, and strength, and look at defining your purpose, all of which describe you.”  This knowledge inspires the appropriate action.

Since none of these changes are simply going to happen, it is up to the reader to take action and make the changes in small steps that will result in the outcome of defining who they are.

But the journey for readers does not end when this book is over. There is always work people can do on an ongoing basis to enhance their potential. The steps of defining the self and how people relate to oneself is a lifelong process for everyone. The author cautions readers to not do too many things in one go because the brain can’t take on that much change at one time. Change is an ongoing, complex process that looks different for everyone and can be dependent on external circumstances. This is why she walks readers through a detailed step-by-step process.

Defining You is not a textbook. It is written for motivated readers who are ready to take action but need guidance to make changes. Murden helps people profile who they are and understand what drives them so they know the best conditions for moving forward.  Defining You is a lengthy and time-intensive process, so readers should plan extended periods to work through each step in the book and build on what they have learned. It will not be as useful for people when read it out of order.

Although the book is well-researched and comprehensive with case studies throughout, it is not a complicated book requiring clinical knowledge to use it. It is written for everyday people that may not have particular struggles but know there is more they want to get from their lives.

Defining You: How to Profile Yourself and Unlock Your Full Potential

Nicholas Brealey Publishing, July 2018

Hardcover, 272 pages

Book Review: Defining You

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Tina Arnoldi

Tina Arnoldi is a licensed professional counselor with a practice in Charleston South Carolina who primarily treats depression and anxiety. As a former technology director, she is especially interested in the impact of the internet on mental health. Read her Psych Central book reviews and learn about her practice at

APA Reference
Arnoldi, T. (2019). Book Review: Defining You. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Mar 2019
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