Carving Out Your Identity

Have you ever thought about creating habits or accomplishing goals based on your identity? So instead of just exercising a few times a week for a set amount of time, claim that you are an athlete, and act like athlete. Instead of just dabbling into blogging, actually own the identity of being a blogger and blog several times a week. I think this is a powerful shift if you can feel aligned in that particular identity. This is the reason why people are able to become engineers or doctors. They decide from the get-go that that’s what they would like to become, and they work towards it.

What happens when you dabble into different goals/actions and don’t commit to a particular identity? It’s fine to dabble, but you can’t really claim to be that identity. I mean you could, but it would be a pretty loose identity. People wouldn’t take you seriously. Plus, why claim to be something you’re clearly not?

For example, if you started a website and post a few articles in the first few days, but then go dormant for months, would you consider yourself to be a blogger? Sounds more like a dabbler to me. There’s nothing wrong with being a dabbler per se. It’s just when I think of a blogger, I think of someone who has been doing it for years. Or even if they haven’t been committed to it for years, they have been posting consistently. Personally for myself, I have been blogging since middle school, back when I first started on Xanga. It evolved to Blogspot to Blogger to WordPress, and then eventually to my own domain in I believe 2013. (Yep, I just confirmed by looking it up, I purchased my domain May 19th 2013.) And I’ve deleted old blogs and posts over the year, even taking breaks in between. So, you won’t see the hundreds of blog posts I’ve done over the years. However, I consider myself a blogger since I’ve been consistently producing content for this blog ever since revamping it in October 2020. Though, I consider myself to be an intermediate blogger. A blogging god would be someone like Steve Pavlina or Leo Babauta. I mean, Steve Pavlina once did more than a year of blogging every single day. That’s incredible. But for someone who just posts a few times for just a few days, can you really call yourself a blogger? Maybe a low-committal one. It’s the equivalent of running for a couple of days, stopping for a few months, and still calling yourself a runner.

When you choose to identify a certain way, you decide the type of person you want to be. I don’t think people really consciously think about this too much, aside from maybe their occupation if they have one. What if you could intentionally carve out your identity? What actions would it lead to? How would you view goals differently?

I remember back in 2017 when I dabbled into producing music again and sharing it online. It was hard for me to claim being an artist. I posted this identity on my Instagram profile, and immediately took it down. How could I claim to be an artist when I don’t sing live, when I don’t do shows, when I don’t even have a single available on streaming platforms like Spotify? I don’t have an album, a record deal, nothing, just cover songs. I couldn’t even really call myself a “cover artist” since I just started and I didn’t really know if that’s what I wanted to continue doing. I felt like if I claimed to be an artist, then I needed to actually be committed to being one.

Fast forward to now, I consider myself an artist, not only in music but in content creation as well. I’ve built up a collection of songs on YouTube. And, I’ve posted a couple of covers on Spotify. Now, I feel confident saying I’m an artist, because I feel aligned with one. It’s not just something I dabbled into once in my life, but something that I’ve built up for a few years now.

Could I have still claimed to be an artist starting off? Sure. But honestly, not even I could take myself seriously back then. It’s not like I could say back then, “I’m a music artist. Check out my music on Spotify.” Or, “I’m releasing a single soon.” But once I decided that I wanted to be an artist, I took the actions that I thought relate to being one and claimed this identity.

My idea of an artist has changed over time. Especially with the pandemic, I think it’s fine to call yourself an artist even if you only share music digitally, even if you don’t do live singing, even if you’re not signed to a record label, even if you decide not to start a record label on your own. If you change your idea of what a certain identity means, you still have to commit to it and take those consistent actions if you want to claim being it.

There’s a powerful shift that happens when you decide to consciously create your identity in this way. You don’t only focus on the actions, but you think, “Is this the type of person I want to become? Is this what I want to be known as?” Sometimes, we unknowingly sabotage ourselves from achieving goals because we may believe certain related identities are negative. It’s helpful to think through these ideas consciously and decide what we ultimately want to become.

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