070: Redefining Your Identity Through Action [Podcast]

If someone were to ask you, “Who are you?”, you’d probably answer with your name and occupation. But that’s not the whole story. Is it?


Much of our identity is tied up in how we allow other people to define us. Parents inform our initial sense of self, followed by friends and community, and finally our own accomplishments — or at least, the value others tend to place on them.

The trouble is, once we accept the identity given us by others, most people do little to change it. Whether due to fear of rejection or change, we get comfortable and settle for less than our true selves.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about the topic of identity and the origin of confidence. Listen in as we discuss what happens in our lives when we choose a different identity.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

Living into a new reality

At age 27, I hit a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I had a good job, a good marriage, and we were talking about starting a family. From the outside, it looked like I “had it all,” but inside I felt like a fraud.

Looking into the future, I pictured myself at 40 looking back on the last 13 years and wondering, “What have I done? What do I really want to do?” I was afraid of reaching the middle of my life and and being filled with regret.

At this time, a formative conversation with a friend took place that changed the course of my life. He asked me what my dream was and I replied, “I guess I want to be a writer.”

His candid response was a pivotal point in my story.

You don’t have to want to be a writer. You are a writer. You just need to write.

Sometimes all we need is a nudge of affirmation in the right direction to discover our true identity.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The hidden insight found in an old proverb
  • Evidence to support a new belief system
  • Facing the question of “Where will you be in 10 years?”
  • Struggling with affirmation for things you don’t want to do
  • The downhill danger of settling for less than your very best
  • What to do if you like your job and you’re comfortable
  • Feeling like a fraud in less than 140 characters
  • The insecurity of professional writers and creatives
  • Living into the reality of a self-constructed narrative
  • Where we receive our identity and what we can do to change it
  • Living as a shadow of your true identity

Quotes and Takeaways

  • You don’t have to want to be a writer, you are a writer. You just need to write.
  • You are a writer when you say you are.” —Steven Pressfield
  • Err on the side of telling people “you’re a writer” to affirm them into the act of writing.
  • You will never write until you believe you are capable of writing a sentence.” —Andy Traub
  • Self-actualization comes from experience.
  • “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” —Proverbs 23:7


How are you defining your identity? What actions are following as a result? Share in the comments