Who Are You? (hint: You Are Not Your Job)


We all have one, right?

So who are you? What identifies you? And what is the difference between the roles we play in life and our identity? I have many roles: wife, daughter, coach, business owner, friend, teacher, etc.

But are those your identity?

Sometimes we are more comfortable in certain roles than in others, and sometimes these roles become a defining factor in our identity. How many of us know someone whose life revolves around their job, or is defined by their role as a parent?

It’s easy to get comfortable in our roles and to start to identify ourselves that way. We allow our plans and decisions to be defined by what our job requires, what our kids need, our spouses schedule, etc.

But what happens when there is a change in that defining role? When the kids learn to drive, or leave the nest altogether? When there is a divorce or a lay off at work? Or when you leave corporate work to work for yourself? What happens when it is time to reinvent yourself?

These kinds of major life shifts can happen unexpectedly, or they can happen by choice, but ultimately they can have the same effects on our sense of identity.  We may not even realize that we have hitched our identity so strongly to that role that is no longer ours. We may not even see it when we are in the middle of struggling with it.

I have been in this struggle, and I am blessed to have a friend who is a fantastic intuitive and saw what was going on for me. That is why I am sharing this with you, so that you will have it in your awareness and will be able to notice if it is coming up in any area of your life.

Last week I had been feeling …off, so I asked my friend to give me a reading so that I could figure out why. What he saw was that the issues I have been working with and pushing against in my life, the things that have been causing discomfort for me are all related to identity!

I have had a lot of transition in the last year, not the least of which has been the transition from employee to self-employed. That is a HUGE transition! I have worked for someone else for the last 23 years of my life. I know how to manage a business, I know how to manage staff, but I am learning how to manage MYSELF in a new way.

I need to let go of the identity of “employee” and step into the truth of who I am.


But I don’t want to just hook onto a new role that defines me. I don’t want to become “business owner” or “coach”.

These things are what I do, not who I am.

So how do I create a strong identity for myself that is not determined by what line of work I am in, or whether or not I have kids, or being married, etc.?

By understanding my core values and conducting my life from a place of connection with these values.


If I come to my role as a business owner from a place of integrity, connection, compassion and gratitude, the decisions I make may be different than if I come from a place of “I have to make this happen or I am going to go belly up! (ahhhh omg cue thefreak out!)”.

Because the fact of the matter is that even if a business flounders. That’s the business, not me. *I* don’t flounder, *I* don’t fail.

These roles aren’t who we are; they are how we relate to the world. If you know what you believe and what is important for you, then you are the best you possible and you can’t fail at that.

When we claim our values, we return to Self, and we are better able to focus our energy on our passion, power, and purpose in this world.


Things to Ponder:

Where are you attaching your identity to your role?

What can you do right now to remind yourself that you are not the roles you play?

Where are you living from a place of core values?

What small step can you take right now to connect to your core values?

I would love to hear from you in the comments!



Are you too connected to the roles you play? Are you going through a transition that is challenging your sense of identity? I can help. Navigation Coaching can help you discover your core values and start to live from a place of connection to those values. Check it out!


  1. Jo on October 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    It always strikes me as odd that when we first meet, we ask each other “what do you do”. We’ve allowed our business/professional/work identities to become the mask that we show the world.

    • Tina on October 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      That is so true! Sometimes we make assumptions based on the answer and then we can miss out on getting to know some truly wonderful, deep, meaningful interactions too.

  2. Amanda on October 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I hate starting the small talk with “what do you do?” so I try to start conversation with something like, “Who are you?” or “Tell me about yourself” or “What’s your passion?” That last one usually meet with blank stares. (Sometimes the first one does too.) And I’m always amazed at how many people start of their answer to “tell me about yourself” with their laundry list of roles, usually with work or academic role at the top of their list, and quite often qualified with *only*. Sometimes though, when I ask “What’s your passion?”, the face lights up and we enter into delicious conversation about an aspect of their life that really feeds them. I love those moments!

    For sure I’m attached to some of my own roles. It’s hard not to be even though I know that a role is a role.

    • Tina on October 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      I love to hear about what people are passionate about! What a great question to ask instead of the usually small talk.

  3. Elinor on October 16, 2011 at 2:30 am

    This is such a simple truth, yet so hard to retain and live. Thank you for laying it out so clearly.

    • Tina on October 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks, Elinor:)

  4. Dominee on October 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I love the idea of asking “Tell me about yourself” instead of asking “What do you do?” I think that opens up more of a truthful, authentic response. We are not defined by our jobs!

    • Tina on October 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      right! and the authentic response is what leads to deeper conversation and really making a connection

  5. Ellie Di on October 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    One of the really helpful things that I’ve heard while working on starting my own biz is that your business is a separate entity from you; it’s its own being with wants, needs, and growth different front yours. Although I’m not to 100% understanding of the concept in practice, I love the idea. It dovetails nicely with what you’re saying here about how your job titles aren’t what you are, they’re what you do. While you might be a sage at heart, being a coach is just the way you choose to make money expressing that. Very important distinction.

    • Tina on October 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      exactly! it’s too easy to let the line get muddy. but looking at the business as a separate being is very helpful

  6. Marla @ Your Full Plate on October 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Awesome! This post is especially helpful to me because of my current day job. It’s something I am choosing to do to pay the bills for now, but not something I’m ever particularly jazzed to talk about – sometimes this makes me feel self conscious when I’m around successful people who love and are thriving in their careers. But I like how you’re saying that that doesn’t really matter, because this job isn’t ME. Nor would it be even if I had a career I was crazy about – I am a separate, perfect, whole and complete being all on my own.

    • Tina on October 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      Yes! separate, perfect, whole & complete!

  7. […] this process of re-identifying myself which we talked about last week is ongoing for me as well. But as I was reminded in the dream, I am […]

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