By Brie Backus (Estimated reading time: 4 minutes)
Are you experiencing a loss of identity or a shift in priorities that has you feeling a bit lost? Do you sometimes wonder if the “old you” is gone, or who the “new you” might be? You’re not alone, but there is a way forward.
I regularly hear from new parents who are grappling with a change of identity. Perhaps before bringing a baby into your world you were extremely career focused, physically active, had meaningful hobbies, and spent your free time socializing with friends, being spontaneous or traveling. Introducing a baby into the picture absolutely changes all of that, not just incrementally, but monumentally, and literally overnight. There’s such a shift in priorities and how we spend our time that inevitably results in a new identity, whether we’re ready for it or not. Many are left wondering, “If I’m no longer focusing my time, energy and mental bandwidth on these things that were so important to me before, then who am I now?” This is different from many of the other ways that we change and evolve over the course of our lifetime because of its sudden and extreme nature, turning our world upside down in the blink of an eye.
You don’t have to muddle your way through this alone. One thing that can help immensely with processing this change and embracing your new identity is finding a coach. Although it’s not a new concept, coaching has rapidly gained traction over the past decade because of its power to help people get unstuck from ruts and unwanted patterns, feel more empowered, and take charge to create a life that feels intentional and fulfilling; a life that aligns with your purpose and values.
One of the most helpful exercises I do with my clients around redesigning their identity is to uncover and mine for their values. For many of us, we haven’t taken the time to figure out exactly what those are, and they can certainly change over the course of our lives.
Once you know what your values are, you can make more thoughtful choices about any aspect of your life based on how (and if) it aligns with your values. When there’s misalignment, things feel off, extra difficult, stuck, or like you’re swimming upstream. You might think you know what your values are, but most of us can only rattle off a small handful. The truth is, you have dozens! For most new parents, having a baby can be a catalyst for a sudden overhaul or adjustment of your values. With your new updated lens in place, it’s so helpful to spend some time uncovering what they are now so you can reclaim your identity and be intentional about doing what makes you feel most alive.
If you can’t hire a coach but want to try some of this values work on your own, here’s a way to get started. Grab a pen & paper and write your responses to the following questions. Don’t edit as you go; allow yourself to be surprised at what comes up. It’s in this space of freedom that great discoveries can be made.
Jot down your answers to the following prompts:
- Think of a peak experience in your life. What did you love about it? What about it left such a positive imprint on you?
- Who is someone you admire? List the things you admire about them.
- Think about your closest friendships and your most precious loved ones. Describe those relationships and what is most meaningful to you about those relationships.
- What’s something that angers you, pisses you off, or is a major pet peeve? Why? What about these things bothers you? (Hint: this one will make you aware of your values that are being stepped on in these moments.)
- What’s something you regret? (Again, this will shine a light on a time when you made a choice that was misaligned with your values and will point to what those might be.)
Now reflect. What themes do you find? There are several more questions you can ask yourself, and this is just one tool of many that I use to help my clients actualize the most empowered, fulfilled and aligned versions of themselves. If you feel a bit lost, hungry for more, or craving some clarity, it can be so valuable to have someone lift up the mirror for you in this way. Let it show you the inner wisdom and true magnificence you hold. Reach out to me for more information about getting started with coaching.