Over the years I've learned the first step to any process from building a nightstand, to buying groceries to barganing a deal with an Ifrit, is to take stock.
Some people say finding a teacher is step one. I don't agree. If you find a teacher they will most likely do this step for you, or have you do it yourself. Finding a teacher is step Zero.
Taking stock of yourself is infinitely benificial to.. well.. everything. So long as you dont break it down into endless navel gazing of tortise upon tortise of faults and virtues. It makes you realize two contradictory but equally true things.
1. I am awesome.
2. I am fucked up.
Many spiritual systems focus you in on one of those two truths, usually the ways in which we are fucked up. That isn't bad per se; our fucked-up-ed-ness is what causes us the most pain and suffering through out our lives. When that isnt doing it, it will most likely be someone ELSE's fucked-up-ed-ness. Think of it as cleaning out the pantry or the refridgerator.
You have to find out what that baking soda proof SMELL is. Dig it out. Identify it. But do NOT toss it out.. yet.
Next you should dwell, now that you have had a sobering dose of how broken you are, of all the ways you are NOT broken. The ways you are awesome. The ways you are awesome are your buddies, your friends, the good food in your fridge and pantry. You can make meals with this, feed yourself, feed others, or teach folks how to cook. These things will be your staple charecter traits that will keep you from swan diving into dark places when things start going badly.
Franz Bardon advises two seporate lists of about a hundred items each of positive qualities, and one of about a hundred items of negative qualities. Be honest, no one but you will see your lists. Then he advises you break it down to how much they effect your life on a one to three scale, and break them down further by element.
I personally have found that the root causes of any negative quality can also be ascribed to a klesha, a "poison" in the yogic sense. They are: Grasping (obsessions), Aversion(fears), Ignorance, Ego, and Clinging to Life.
Ego can be a culmination of the activities of the first three, and clinging to life is clinging to that ego-form. Not just your animal life. It's also clinging to the status quo that you identify with.
Now that you've sorted out your virtues (That which is helpful to you and your goals)and your vices (that which is not helpful to you and your goals), you can start to take apart your vices and find what virtue is burried in them.
See, vices are just virtues with too little, or too much oomph behind them, usually, as well as whatever unresolved psychological issues might be replaying over and over again in your mindstream, making it cloudy. Your vices are the poisons you are going to transmute into antivenom, they are the poisonous, inert lead you are going to change into superconductive, shiney shiney gold.
And so one by one you tackle those vices, those ways in which you are awesomely fucked up, till you are fucked up in a truely awesome way. To throw them away would be wasteful, better to use them as fuel, as fodder, as materia to make a new and shining Self.
Even if you don't do any of that, taking stock allows you to see where your blind spots are, and allows you to check them from time to time, as well as plan around them.