Avoid having an identity crisis

So you're a mother and a wife — but are you who you want to be? Tina Coombes explains how creating a personal mission statement can help you align the many facets of you.

Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience for most of us. How we deal with this can dramatically affect who we are as individuals. Once the initial mixture of emotions settles and some form of a routine falls into place, when you look in the mirror, what do you see deep down inside? 

So many new labels appear, seemingly from nowhere: Mother, housewife, working mother, nappy changer, wife, parent, stay-at-home-mum, partner… The labels are endless, and often the labels we previously wore (successful career woman, independent woman, go-getter, optimist, etc) are quite different from our current perceived ideas.

So what happens when these new labels start weakening our own sense of self, when we allow our confidence to disappear and our personal growth to evaporate, and the fun and enjoyment melts into a life consisting of mundane washing, flat coffees, boring dinners, and more nappies? It is without a doubt that family is fundamentally important, but sometimes we drift along paths that refect such a different person to the one we wanted to be.

So how do you identify who the "who" is in you? Who is your true, authentic self? We all take on many labels in life, some we are proud of and others we would rather leave behind. Seeking balance in our lives can have a dramatic impact on who we are. 

We can choose either to be labelled by others, or to step up to the challenge and value ourselves by identifying who we truly want to be, turning our world into one of positive energy focused on ourselves, our families, and our communities.  

By identifying who you really are, you can: 
* Bring balance into your life by being true to yourself and meeting your own needs on a daily basis.
* Enjoy the fulflment you receive from having a happy family life. 
* Be the role model you want to be in your home, work, and community.
* Leave a legacy for your children that teaches them about being true to themselves, and learning to enjoy life to the full.
* Understand the dangers of labels, and of making assumptions about ourselves that are not valid, in that they can cause us to make choices that are not in our best interests, and which can be damaging to our long-term confidence and goals.

As George Eliot said over 150 years ago, "It is never too late to be what you might have been". Start right here, right now, by developing a mission statement that captures what you want to achieve.

Your personal mission statement
With a deluge of different techniques on the market, we can often be overwhelmed not only with the different approaches, but also the extreme promises of a transformation within days. Unfortunately, nothing worth having comes easily. But by keeping it simple and moving yourself in the right direction, you will most certainly take steps that can dramatically change your life, and the lives of those around you.

Often as mothers, we pride ourselves on our ability to be something to everyone - the person who can adapt to every demand placed in front of them. But in reality, true strength and poise comes from a strong core, both physically and emotionally.

Devising a mission statement can be a very powerful approach to understanding who you are, and for validating what you are doing now, what you are aiming for in the future, and who you want to become. The solution is a mission statement: A simple sentence or two describing - and ultimately keeping you focused on - your core priorities as an individual.

Fiona Harold, one of the UK's leading life coaches, highlighted an excellent technique for identifying your personal mission statement.  

How to develop your mission statement
Firstly, write down seven qualities you most admire in other people. Think carefully about the attributes that attracted you to them and made you like them.

Now move on to yourself and the qualities you would most like to be known for. What would you like people to say about you?

Now complete the following statements:
* The person I am choosing to be from this day on is someone who is...
* The qualities I most want to emphasise and enjoy in myself are...
* Once you have finished, add the following statement beneath: I am now ready to be my true, authentic self. I commit to reinforcing these qualities until they are a deeply ingrained part of who I am and who I am seen to be.

Write this mission statement on a piece of card, sign and date it, and place it somewhere you will see it regularly.

Now you have a mission statement that gives you a purpose and strengthens your sense of self. This is your personal mission statement - this is who you are, and this represents how you face the world. 

Now, protect your mission statement at all costs by learning to trust your own instincts over others, and learning to become more self-reliant.

Whenever you have those feelings of being overwhelmed, revisit your mission statement and focus on the vision you can see in your minds eye. This is the life you want, the person you want to become. This is who you are.

The first steps are the hardest
Taking the first step towards reaching your personal mission statement can be one of the biggest hurdles in your journey. For some people, even writing the personal mission statement and carrying it with them wherever they go is still not enough for change. It is often fear that can hold someone back from becoming the person they really want to be. This is where you need to ban self-doubt and be strong - you owe it to yourself to stand up for who you want to be.

In her classic bestseller Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, author Susan Jeffers points out that at the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can't handle whatever life may bring you.

The truth is that if you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you have to fear?
The answer is: NOTHING!

Tina Coombes is an Auckland life coach. Her practice, Alta Performance, coaches women through the emotional challenges that having a baby brings. Contact Tina at to find out how she can help you achieve your peak performance. 

References and further reading
* Shriver, Maria. Just Who Will You Be? New York: Hyperion, 2001
* Harrold, Fiona. Be Your Own Life Coach. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.
* Stoltzfus, Tony. Coaching Questions. USA: Coach22, 2008.
* Jeffers, Susan. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. London: Random House, 1987. 



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