Consider Loosening Your Identity

Do you want to start a new career chapter? If so, it may be time to loosen your identity, create some new habits, and open up the possibilities.  

Maybe, like some of my clients, you’ve been a teacher for years and are considering a leadership role? Or you’ve started your career in real estate, but you care so much about the consequences of climate change, you want to change your focus completely. Or there’s the software developer I support who’s trying to reshape his identity into a writer. And there’s also the retiree who’s trying to figure out what’s next!

It’s hard because we spend so much time doing our work. The persona, habits, and behaviours of that work shape our identity—so much so that we cling onto that identity with a tight grip, scared to let it go even if we’re bored or not happy with it, or it’s just time to move on. The uncertainty of the unknown is scary. Not only is it hard to see ourselves taking on a new identity or role—it’s sometimes hard for others to see us differently, too, which adds to the pressure to hold on.

In her article, The Power of Rewriting Your IdentityTracie Abram writes: “Identity is never a fixed thing. It’s a work in progress, a fluid, dynamic, ever-changing river of possibility”.

I like to focus on this idea of possibility with my clients and ask questions such as:

  • How might you use your strengths and values in a different context?
  • How could you transfer the experience and wisdom you’ve gained into a new role?  
  • Who could you learn from about this possible new role to hear what it’s like and what you might expect if you were to take it on?
  • What new habits could you ‘test’ out to know what it would feel like to take on that new identity? James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits suggests, “build habits that reinforce your desired identity.” For example, “I’m becoming a musician, so I practice every day”.

When you find yourself in the grips of your identity, please give it a gentle shake, and see what happens. The possibilities may be endless.

Be in touch with me here to learn more and to explore how I can support you in your career transition!