How To Stay True To Yourself At All Times
How do we stay connected to our true identity and purpose while living in a world that is always trying to tell us who we’re supposed to be?
Let’s think about the concept of identity for a moment.
It seems simple at first, the basic fundamental idea of who you are. Your name is Susan, or Shaun, and you’re an accountant or a doctor. You’re little Mikey’s mom or dad. You’re President of the local gardening club, or you’re a club promoter, or a barista.
Many of us define ourselves by our external affiliations. What we do in order to make money, or who we’re related to in some capacity.
We tie our identity to our accomplishments, our possessions, our follower counts, or our social status. The problem with this methodology is that it can all go away at any second.
Consider a professional athlete who is an athlete. That is how the athlete defines themselves, and therefore every decision they make is predicated upon that reality. The foods they eat, the workouts they do, the goals they set forth all revolve around the chosen identity for this person.
Now consider there is an injury that prevents this person from ever playing again. When they look in the mirror, who do they see? They are no longer an athlete, their identity has been stripped away.
We will all someday have a story of living through a global pandemic that turned the world’s economies on their heads due to massive shutdowns and health concerns. Some of you will be reading this with a fresh memory of this just happening, others will stumble upon this article in the future and it’ll simply serve as a reminder. But during this time there were millions of jobs lost in a matter of weeks. Businesses closed. Relationships crumbled. Identities were lost.
Imagine spending decades building a business or a career only to have it taken away in a matter of weeks. The feeling of depression or hopelessness that accompanies these events is devastating, but most of all to those who’ve tied their identity to the business or job title.
“Who am I now?”
For both the injured athlete and the unemployed worker, the truth remains the same: You remain who you’ve always been. The way(s) in which you make a living do not define you as a person. Yet this is the story we’ve been told by society.
It may not seem like it, but this is good news. There is hope within the realization that we have the power to choose our identity and it cannot be taken away from us.
What you do for a living is not who you are as a person.
Doing the work to get abundantly clear on meaning, purpose, and identity is not a task many choose to undertake, which is exactly the reason why so many people are unclear on what it really means.
The compelling thing about work is that there are rewards. This is not about monetary or material rewards, though. It’s the journey of inner fulfillment and inner happiness. The kinds that cannot be taken away from you when external circumstances change.
How do we stay true to ourselves at all times?
Imagine that someone walks into a room to talk to you. This someone, though, is the future version of yourself visiting from the year 2030.
Take a moment to create a clear image of them. What are they wearing? How do they walk, or talk, or carry themselves? Where is this conversation happening? Are you on a beach, in a living room, in a hotel, on a private jet?
Set the stage.
Have a conversation with this future version of you. Ask them what’s important in their life. Talk about regrets, or failures, or ways they overcame adversity. Talk about things you know are coming but aren’t willing to admit.
The more detailed the image of this person, the better.
Return to the present.
From this moment forth, ask yourself “what would future me do?” each time you face a difficult decision. Would they skip the gym, or make sure they get up and go?
Would they still be dealing with that poor treatment at home or work? Or have they developed the courage to walk away?
Use these questions as your compass in everything you do in life. Stay connected to and aware of “your” presence in your own mind as you navigate challenges and roadblocks.
As you live in full alignment with the future version of yourself, you’ll find yourself becoming them.
Stay loyal to you, and nothing will be able to pull you off track.