It’s a long read. Like most content here, this one is for me and the inquisitive onlooker. (: Feel free to skip the “why” at the top of this post and jump straight to “WHO AM I?” and “REINVENT YOURSELF” exercises below.
I have been in a weird place in my life lately. With as much ups and downs as I’ve had within the internal ecosystem of my mind, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is up and what is down. I’ve felt like I’ve been gotten lost in the middle of a forest and I can’t recall which way I came from.
That means it’s also an incredibly powerful moment to be in. I could choose to figure out which way I came from and go back that direction.
I could choose to pick any new direction and go that way instead.
Do I really want to go back to the place I was, to the person I’ve been, to the stories I’ve lived?
In all honesty:
Based on the frustrations and the mindsets I’ve had in years prior, no I don’t want to figure out how to get back to where I was. I’ve made some personally significant leaps in recent years that has increased my awareness about myself, the world, and life in general that makes it impossible to ever want to go back to “that.” Wherever “that” is.
There are good and bad things to my past. The truth of the matter, however, is that my past doesn’t exist anymore. I only have this moment right here, right now.
Yet, my biggest habit is that I let my past dictate who I am, what I feel, and what I believe in today. The past, which doesn’t exist and has no physical control over who I am right now. While it’s true that certain circumstances that I’m in now have been created by my past, that doesn’t mean that I am stuck with (most) of those choices now and for the rest of my life.
I can choose to change at
Which is what I have always known and am constantly relearning – but today I want to make it more concrete, more official, that I want to change my life.
I don’t want to just survive in life anymore. I don’t want my days to just disappear, wondering, “what the hell did I even do today?” I don’t want to blink and realize that years have gone by and I’ve made tiny incremental changes or no change at all.
I find myself starting to circle back to where I was just a few years ago and that is a frightening thought.
To me, it’s no surprise that a lot of this conviction has come after a long session of reading from a Tony Robbins book. Or any mindset/philosophy book, really. Or spending any time away from social media, games, or any other distraction that pulls me away from myself and my heart.
In the past week I’ve completely reframed my personal values, changing up my Top 5 to my Top 10, along with what each means (as a set of rules) in order to help me know when I am living in congruence with my values. I’ve started acknowledging the key references that have shaped my life and identified other references that would be beneficial to experience in my future life.
Most importantly has been the focus on personal identity and answering one of the deepest philosophical questions:
“Who am I?”
I’m not going to try and reframe Tony’s content here, as he says it best, but the general jist is that we get to decide who we want to be. After putting ourselves into a better state (calm, unrestricted by a limited mind, etc.), we ask ourselves this question, “Who am I?” We keep asking ourselves the question, over and over again until something comes up that touches the soul.
It’s not the first time I’ve done an exercise like this, but every time it puts me in such a higher level state that I rarely get myself to. But a state that seems to pull me forward, rather than me trying to push myself into action.
Today, for me, is not about actually sharing what I wrote (which I will), but it has more to do with actually following through on the exercise: which is to “commit to your identity by broadcasting it to everyone.”
Some of it may not necessarily be true (yet), but by making the declaration and “putting it out there” the type of person I will become, it sets into motion certain forces within myself that help me to “create that person.”
In addition, by making this statement, it also has the opportunity of connecting me with people who share similar values (or) creating a strong contrast against the people who don’t think this way. Both is useful, because it helps me identify who to spend time with and who… to not.
Part of this is finding a tribe of people who think similarly, who believe in living life at large, who want to support others, who believe that change is possible (in themselves, in others, and in the world), and who are willing to put in the work to make those changes.
It’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re trying to improve who you are, improve your situation in life, or make some other significant change that isn’t necessarily common in general society.
Part of my declaration is being okay being alone at the start. If that’s what it takes for me to begin living life to the fullest, then so be it. I’ll find “my people” in time, no matter how long it takes, but I will find them eventually when I start living my life and being who I really am.
Who I am evolves over time. What may be true today may no longer be tomorrow.
Below are the notes I wrote for myself, unfiltered in free-flow form with minimal edits.
It makes me uncomfortable to share this post (including the evolution of “who am I?” in the beginning to “who am I?” by the end), but that’s part of the reason why I need to share it.
It starts off with the “Who am I” question and later goes into some of the “Reinvent Yourself” exercises that ends the chapter.
Who am I?
Personal notes from Awaken the Giant Within, p422
I am a dancer, a social shy guy. I’m the owner of the Fort Wayne Westies. I have started and attempted to run an online writing business as a freelancer. I am a friend to many and a closer friend to few. I am somewhat of an isolationist, and I tend to do my own thing and pursue my own path.
Who am I?
I’m a dancer that is driven towards learning more about who I am and becoming who I am meant to become. I am someone who sees my own limitations and strives not to let them stop him from overcoming them. I am an aspiring leader who is learning to overcome his limitations in order to better understand himself and help the world around him. I am an individual learning to create his own destiny.
Who am I?
I am a creative being that has grown up with a unique set of experiences that is on the path to self-discovery and helping the world around me live the best life they can. I am a dancer that is driven by community and wants to see others feel welcome, safe, and also have the opportunity to grow as dancers and individuals.
Who am I?
I am a creative, loving, and expressive soul that is on the path of self-discovery and self-creation. I am always moving towards the best that I have to become, create, and experience. I strive to thrive in all ways so that I may have the most enjoyable experience on this earth while I am alive while also improving the qualities of others’ lives of who I come into contact with.
Who am I?
I am a creative, loving, and expressive soul that is seeking the best experiences I have been brought here to enjoy, endure, and learn from. I am bound on the path of self-discovery self-creation, and self-expression. I am always striving to become and to create the highest version of myself that I can become. I do not let limitations, distractions, and ineffective mindsets hold me back from being, having, or doing anything I want in this life. I grow from my experiences and I am independently capable of doing what I need to do.
Who am I?
I am Austin. I’m a creative, loving, and expressive soul that is bound on the path of self-discovery, self-creation, and self-expression. I am constantly striving to learn more about who I am and the reason I have been put here on this earth, I’m constantly striving to become what I feel called to become, and I am constantly striving to express everything about who I am in a way that may help others become who they are meant to be.
I am experience-driven, seeking what will help me grow stronger, more confident, more loving, more creative, and more appreciative as an individual. I seek out the experiences that will help me gain more wisdom about myself and the world. I seek out experiences that enable me to navigate more effectively in this life. I seek out experiences that will challenge me to improve and to be strong as an individual so that I may help others more effectively in life. I seek the experiences that will help me develop a greater understanding of how life works. I seek out experiences that fill me with joy, and love, and excitement, as well as with appreciation, and understanding, and wisdom.
I am limitless. I cannot be chained down. I cannot be restrained by my circumstances, by my mindset, or by other people. I transcend everything, even my own self and my own limitations. I am always evolving.
I am creation and expression driven, doing what I can to create what my heart and mind envisions or feels. I create what is unique or meaningful for me. I create so that I may enhance the quality of my own life and/or the quality of the life around me. I build within and around me what will help me create a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
I am not afraid to be an individualist, I’m not afraid to be different, I’m not afraid to chart my own course that is unpopular, unconventional, or outright “never been done before.” I thrive in an environment that is unique, that is full of unknown, but not because I aim to be independent entirely. I seek out the path of an individualist because, for me, it means that I am able to chart a course, create an atmosphere, create a culture, or create a community that promotes individuality, self-acceptance, self-discovery, self-creation, and self-expression. Because I see the impact that individuals can have, when they are surrounded by people and environments that help them thrive, that support their ideals, that support their highest vision of themselves, their ideas, and their creations.
I am strong on my own. I do not “need” others, but I do welcome and invite others into my life that will support and build me up. I DO surround myself with people who are meaningful, important, and powerful. I surround myself with people that build people up. I do this so that I, as an individual, can thrive and improve, but also so that I may provide my contribution and support to those around me as well.
I am Austin and I decide to live a story worth telling, to always be me, and to always be evolving.
// “REINVENT YOURSELF” EXERCISES
EXERCISE #2. If you’d truly like to expand your identity and your life, then, right now, consciously decide who you want to be. Get excited, be like a kid again, and describe in detail who you’ve decided you are today. Take a moment now to write down your expanded list.
I have decided right now that I am living my life out to the fullest from THIS POINT ON, ONWARD. I have decided that who I am is someone who lives life fully, who does not accept self-inflicted limitations or limitations imposed by others. I have decided that I am someone who will do everything possible to experience the most out of life, from the smallest things to the largest things.
I am someone who does what he wants to do and does what needs to be done, without procrastinating. I am someone who is focused, who knows what needs to be done or listens to his heart on what he personally feels called to do – and then does it. I don’t wait for the perfect moment, I do it when the calling is strong. I do it when I remember it. I do everything I say I’m going to do on the day and time I say I’m going to do it. I am responsible for myself and everyone in my charge, and I take care of myself and those in my charge to the best of my ability.
I do not let limitations hold me back, including those created within my own mind and especially by those created by others. I do not let my environment or societal pressures keep me from being who I am. Whoever and whatever I am and whoever or whatever I want to become … I become. Day by day, moment by moment.
I am creative and quirky and fun. I can get things done, but I know how to have fun while I’m doing it. I infuse creativity and playfulness into many of my interactions, but can still be serious when the situation calls for it. But above all, I am still myself at all times. All times.
I have no fear when it comes to expressing who I am or sharing my truths. When I want to wear something quirky, I wear it. And I wear it with strength, conviction, and pride. But I wear it because I want to wear it, because it’s who I am, not because I want to get attention.
I am loving and caring to myself and to everyone around me, especially those in my personal circle. I give time and space and resources to those that matter and to those I can impact, including myself. I know how to take care of myself and I make it a priority to make sure I am well in health, including physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I hold myself with strength in every situation. No matter what I’m facing, no matter how light or how intense, I am myself and I hold my ground. I am like Gary Vaynerchuk and Dan Meredith and Casey Neistat in that I am who I am no matter what happens. No matter how I’m judged, no matter how people react to me … I remain me. I respond with respect and kindness, but I do not let others walk over me. I hold my ground and I state my truth.
I have decided that I am enough, as I am now, and as I am always. I do not “need to be someone else.” I can strive to improve and recognize that and work towards improving, but no matter where I am, “I am enough.” I am not weak as I am now, no matter what I’m going through. I have decided that I am valuable and worth space and time on this earth and in this universe just as I am. My contribution and value can only increase, not decrease.
I am committed to personal growth. I spend time improving who I am and I don’t let myself become stagnant. I spend time learning, I put myself in challenging situations that will broaden my experiences, and I regularly seek out new perspectives that will help me understand and enjoy this life even more.
I seek out new experiences and new adventures all of the time. Anytime I feel the need to adventure, I go adventuring.
I NEVER NEED AN EXCUSE TO DO SOMETHING. I do not need to get someone to validate or approve of what I’m doing. I’m doing it for me or because I want to and that is enough reason for ME. I don’t have to tell anyone why I’m doing something. I do not need to seek their approval. I do not need people to understand.
I do not “ponder and pontificate,” when I feel the calling to do something. I JUST DO IT. Aside from playing it smart and understanding the pros/cons of doing significant changes, I know that spending too much “thinking” about relatively small matters is not worthwhile. I know it’s better for me to, as I’m making this decision to live fully, to start moving forward and adjusting my course as I go.
I am a social person. Even if I don’t talk as much as most people, I still have the social wherewithal to hold a great conversation, to make someone feel welcome and appreciated, and to provide value to the people around me (or to give them the time, space, and attention they need). I speak loud enough to be heard and slow enough to be understood.
Everything I do comes with an unmistakable amount of confidence. From talking to dancing to shopping to creating to sharing online… I am confident, no matter what. I am not defined by my experiences. I do not need to be “weak,” I do not need to be “shy,” I do not need to be “soft spoken” unless I for whatever reason choose to be.
But as of this moment, I am confident.
I have decided that I am the Captain of my own life. I sail on the open ocean of life with swagger, confidence, and I can corral my crew (whether actual people or just the groupings of my mind, body, and soul) towards a better life of adventure, fulfillment, and riches. I am responsible for myself and my crew. I make sure that I and my crew are well taken care of, fulfilled, and happy.
As the Captain of my life, I take responsibility for everything in my life. E V E R Y T H I N G. I make enough money to thrive as an individual, to support myself, my pursuits, and the people around me. I make a difference in the world around me, whether that’s just one other person today or millions of people tomorrow.
I put myself first, I take care what needs to be taken care of, I take care of my own needs – and then I can support others. But I never let my fears and limitations and “shoulds” dominate my mind and my actions.
I do not let anyone become a bottleneck for the progress and growth of my life. If I want something, I take it upon myself to ensure that it is taken care of. From something as simple as throwing something away to as creating a life-changing organization. Whatever it is, I am committed to making MY life as wonderful as I can. This is my life and it is my choice, my decision, and my commitment through action to make it and see it as wonderful.
EXERCISE #3. Now develop a plan of action you could take that would cause you to know that you’re truly living consistently with your new identity. In developing this plan, pay special attention to the friends you’re choosing to spend time with. Will they reinforce or destroy the identity you’re creating?
My plan of action to know that I am living consistently with this new identity, would be to…
Get my own place separate from my parents (irrelevant if I’m by myself or with someone else – although if living with someone else it would either be with someone who is growth oriented and supportive, or a temporary solution while working on finances).
Create a legitimate friend group that supports this massive vision for life. This is in addition to being mindful of the people I’m spending time around that either reinforce or destroy my identity. I would like to create a Facebook Group or some kind of meetup that facilitates growth. Or at least be a part of an existing one that meets regularly to talk, offer advice, get insight, etc. So EOL, ESHIFT, EWD for starters.
Start making money again. A bit generalized, but right now that’s dance, that’s writing, that’s eventually copywriting, that’s eventually marketing. Those are the big ones for now. I can either choose to go all in on dance only, or I can work on developing my own professional portfolio for web content and expand my skills further while also working on dance.
- Client in writing.
- Students in dance.
- Learning Copywriting -> getting a client in copywriting.
- Learning marketing (FB ads, SEO, etc.)
Attend lessons, workshops, etc. around things that would have scared “old me” but is really now my (im)proving grounds for this new identity: Toastmasters and Improv to start.
Go to Burning Man + create lifestyle changes that promote the main Burner principles that I resonate with. This gets me to depend on myself and to become more comfortable exploring the world as I create my adventure to Black Rock City.
Rent the Airbnb because it’s something I decided would be helpful.
Start sharing my story with confidence because I am valuable as I am. My story is my story. I don’t need to apologize for it or offer a disclaimer every time. I don’t need to shape it to be perfect for everyone.
Travel regularly to new and favorite places. See people. Experience things. Go to dances. Because “who I am” can afford it and has the confidence to be anywhere unfamiliar and know how to thrive. I can navigate any scenario.
Tattoo, dyed hair, and piercings. (: Angels, phoenix, compass, phrasing, rings, earrings … whatever it is, you embrace self expression and a story on your skin.
(This exercise reminds me a lot of Kyle Cease’s Left Page exercise.)
(Who am I spending time with that will reinforce this new identity?)
EXERCISE #4. The final step is to commit to your new identity by broadcasting it to everyone around you. The most important broadcast, however, is to yourself. Use your new label to describe yourself every single day, and it will become conditioned within you.
You are here. Hi.
Final notes from the chapter:
- Continue to refine your identity, expand it, or create better rules for it. Constantly. Become aware of when things are empowering or disempowering you and change as needed. Labels you add to yourself should enhance who you are, not limit you.
- What we identify with, WE WILL BECOME.
- “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
– Thomas A. Edison
- While we’re alive, we are not our bodies. Neither are we our past, nor our behaviors in the moment. “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
- A: Do not do things to “overcome something.” Do things that are in congruence with who you are. So make who you are someone who does what you are wanting to overcome. Because you are not overcoming anything at that point, but doing what YOU are.
- Do anything you think you cannot do. “That’s just not me” is no longer valid. Notice the limitation it puts on you, the experience you can have, and the story you could live.
- “I will consistently act as a person who is already achieving these goals. I will breathe this way. I will move this way. I will respond to people this way. I will treat people with the kind of dignity, respect, compassion and love that this person would.”
- You are not “becoming someone ELSE” by doing those things, you are becoming THAT person. BY DOING THOSE THINGS. That picture you have in your head is who you ARE when you DO those things you wrote. You will BE that person.
- “Forget the past. Who are you now?” Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make it consciously, make it carefully, make it powerfully.
- MASTER SYSTEM | STATE, QUESTIONS, VALUES, RULES, REFERENCE (+ IDENTITY, GLOBAL BELIEFS)
- Be playful and have fun! (: