Why your identity narrative matters

Why your identity narrative matters

Do you know how lobsters grow bigger shells? First, they start to feel a little tight in their existing shell. Then, they go find a rock or safe space to hide under while they shed their protective exoskeleton. Free of the restrictive outer shell, they then grow a new, bigger shell and emerge from under the rock. Sometimes when we feel like our current identity doesn’t fit us anymore, we need a safe space to shed it and try on or build a new identity.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

This week I was coaching a busy professional woman who is about to start her executive MBA, whom I’ll call Janelle. She had a pattern of behavior of being late. Maybe you can relate? It was so bad that her family would tease her that she would be late to her own funeral. Now that she is starting an advanced degree program, she realized she needs to change her identity.

Times of transition are often the times we experience the most growth. A new school year, a new job, or a new role often force us to gain new skills or level-up the sophistication of our current thoughts, beliefs, or operational systems.

Janelle wanted to be able to deliver her work on time and to be disciplined and consistent with her schoolwork. To make those changes, she astutely realized that it was not enough to just try to change her behavior. Maybe you have found yourself in a similar cycle. You promise you will start working out. You vow you will stay off the video games. You delete your social media apps. You tell yourself you’ll stop being late. All of that may work for a while, but too often, our behavior quickly reverts to baseline.

To make lasting change, we often must first deal with our own identities.

Maybe we have told ourselves we’re just always late, we work better at the last minute, we’re just disorganized, it’s not possible to change, we’ll never lose the weight, or we just aren’t cut out for something. In Janelle’s case, this transition point in her life was the time she wanted to re-brand herself. She wanted to become a person of discipline, who was reliable, organized, and at peace.

Motivation is what gets us started, but discipline and good habits keep us going.

Through our time coaching together, we worked on figuring out what habits she would need to develop to live out her new identity as a person of discipline who reliably produced high-quality work.

Change can be difficult, but change is possible.

There is help, and there is hope. Stress, overwhelm, and busyness don’t have to be the defining characteristics of our lives. Change starts from the inside. If you, like the lobster, need a safe space to explore your identity and how you want to change, coaching can be a way to talk through ideas, reflect, ask bold questions, and explore what is possible. Hey, maybe in your new metamorphosis you won’t be a lobster at all. Maybe you’ll transform into something new and surprising.

Coaching is a great way to create a safe space to try on provisional future selves. You can take an honest look at your identity narrative and see which parts are serving you, and which parts you want to change or discard. Coaching can be the rock you are sheltered under while you become the next iteration of yourself. Welcome to YOU 2.0.

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