It’s time once again to answer the question, who are you?
This blog is a “Part Two” of sorts. Last time, we talked about not letting the world tell you who you are. It’s about believing in yourself, defining your passions, and kicking those naysayers to the curb. You can read Part One here if you missed it!
Part One is full of good advice if I say so myself (and I did say so myself). But this time, we’re taking a deeper dive.
How can you define who you are? And how can you use your identity to guide where you go next?
The Identity Strategy: Determine Who You Are
It’s time to write some “I am” statements. And I’m not kidding – you need to write them down.
Go ahead and find a pen. Or open the notes on your phone. I’ll wait.
Take a moment, close your eyes, and think about who you are. Deep down inside. What matters most to you? What motivates you?
I’m not talking about facts, like what you do for work, your partner or children, or physical characteristics like your height or eye color. I’m talking about the very core of who you are: your values, morals, passion, desires, and purpose. The things that can’t be known by anyone except you.
Once you have those in mind, write 5-10 “I am” statements based on those thoughts. These should be positive statements, attributes you are proud of.
Examples might include:
- I am healthy and committed to staying that way.
- I am compassionate.
- I am welcoming.
- I am able to set boundaries when something interferes with my well-being.
- I am someone who speaks up when someone else is being wronged.
- I am a hard worker who goes above and beyond.
- I am not bothered by other people’s opinions.
- I am adventurous.
- I am fiercely loyal to my family and friends.
- I am a survivor.
- I am able to do hard things.
These statements inform your identity. They’re the truths that you live by and the truths that will inform your future decisions.
Let Your Identity Guide Your Decisions
You must hold fast to your identity if you want to achieve your goals and make your ideal future a reality.
Your identity is the roadmap you need to navigate life. Moving along that road becomes a little easier once you clearly understand who you are – your values, morals, passions, and desires.
Life will inevitably get bumpy. In those moments, whether they be big challenges or small, you’ll need to make decisions. You’ll need to choose a direction. That’s when you turn back to these “I am” statements, using them to make choices that align with who you are and what you stand for.
The Small Stuff
Your “I am” statements can be helpful in the small stuff, like choosing what food to put into your body. For example, one of the statements above is, “I am healthy and committed to staying that way.” But it was a rough day at work, and all you want to do is skip your workout, pick up fast food, and park yourself on the couch.
That’s okay to do once in a while (we all need a break sometimes). But if it’s becoming a habit, you might need to pull out your “I am” statements again. Is choosing to skip your workout meeting your commitment to staying healthy? Does eating fast food three days a week align with your desire to take care of your body?
In that moment, when faced with the choice to sit it out, let your identity speak loudly: “I am healthy and committed to staying that way.”
The Not-So-Small Stuff
Being confident in your self-identity comes in particularly handy when life gets really difficult and challenging. When you have to make big decisions. Life-changing decisions.
Let’s take, for example, a significant career change. Maybe you’re feeling stuck in your current line of work. You’ve been there forever, you like your co-workers, and it pays well. However, you don’t feel fulfilled in your work. You feel like you’re not making a difference.
Then, you get a job offer from a local nonprofit you’ve volunteered with for years. It’s a significant pay cut. It might mean downsizing your home. But you would be serving a cause you’re passionate about.
What do you do?
You guessed it: return to those “I am” statements. Stand rooted in your identity. Who are you?
Well, you’re compassionate. You’re welcoming. You’re someone who speaks up when someone else is being wronged. You’re loyal. And you can do hard things.
In this example, the passion and sense of purpose might outweigh the financial benefits of an unfulfilling job.
The WodBottom Line
In the end, understanding who you are helps guide whom you will become. When you stand solidly in your self-identity, you can navigate any obstacle life throws at you.
It’s easy to let ourselves be pushed out of alignment. We all find ourselves in situations that don’t represent who we are; those moments when we stop and think, “what happened? How did I get here? This is so far from where I want to be.”
In those moments, when you feel like a stranger in your own life story, return to your self-identity. Break out those “I am” statements. Choose paths that align with your values, morals, passions, and desires. Because that’s when you truly start to feel alive.