“I am 65% water, 20% carbon and 10% hydrogen,” I read aloud to my Freshmen english class while my face burned with beet-red flush. We were each asked to write our answer to “who am I?” It seemed a lot easier to write about my biology than to condense my identity into one to two sentences.
I don’t need to tell you that describing who you are is a provocative exercise. There’s no straight-forward answer to “who are you.” Our identity is always shifting, and it seems impossible to describe your unique human consciousness and life into two sentences or even a paragraph.
It’s also impossible for new goals to take root without honestly reflecting on who you are, today.
One of the most popular ways to explain our identities is to detail our social roles and relationships. It’s common to ask a new acquaintance innocuously ‘what do you do?’ Jobs and careers are a building block of identity in our culture.
We often define our primary identity by our relationships– a husband, a mother, a cool aunt, a caretaker. My role as a daughter, friend and partner was my default identity until I realized that wrapping my self-worth into a relationship encouraged an endless cycle of approval-seeking and people pleasing.
We could definitely use a fresh angle for answering this question.
What if we shifted from describing the roles that we do to the individuals that we are– the values, passions and priorities that guide how we respond and make decisions on a daily basis?
Identifying and living out our values and personal missions helps us to stay present, navigate uncertainty and gracefully take on goals and challenges that come our way.
Living fully alive means a consistent commitment to integrity. As the legendary author and researcher Brené Brown describes,
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply profess them.”
Integrating values into the heart of goal-setting ensures that your values act as a personal compass to uncover meaningful goals and commit to action.
So here we go: open your journal or a blank piece of paper and write “I am…” at the top, set a timer on your phone for five minutes and jot down any answer that comes to mind describing who you are, now at the end of 2019.
If you’re drawing a blank, here are some more prompts to get you started:
- What’s my message?
- What do I stand for?
- What emboldens me to take a stand?
- What are my core values? How do I live out those values?
- How do I impact and shape the people around me?
- What fires me up?
- About which issues facing my community am I passionate?
- What is my ‘moonshot’?
- When do I pursue excellence? Why?
- What am I curious about?
- What’s my mission or calling?
Let me know how you found this exercise – was it surprising, challenging, fun? I’d love to hear about the values and passion guiding you into 2020 in the comments below!