Value your identity

“Who am I? Are you kidding me?”

So it goes when I ask my clients to tell me something about themselves. But I think it’s important to define what a person holds dear, what they value, and with what they identify. Doing so helps guide me in guiding them. This sounds a little wishy-washy, maybe even a bit new age. Cue the gongs, start your chants, and light some incense, I’m about to break it down.

When I first sit down and ask a new client “Tell me about yourself,” I get a range of answers. But seldom do I get a well-thought or well-prepared response. Make no mistake, this is in no way the fault of the individual. They thought they hired a trainer. They were expecting some squats, crunches, pushups, maybe even a few of those God awful burpee things. They were not expecting any deep questions and they damned sure weren’t looking to learn anything about themselves.

So why do I take what should amount to a sweat session and use it as an opportunity to learn more about the person? Any fellow trainers are surely sarcastically gasping in horror at the thought. Because if I am tasked with helping somebody – truly helping them, not just cashing their check – to become a healthier version of themselves, I have to know how to connect with them, how to inspire them, and how to get them to self-motivate.

It’s all in your mind

Have you ever heard the theory that your words and thoughts determine your actions? I’ve spoken before in Mature Lifestyles about the power our habits hold over our quality of life. What we think eventually becomes what we do, which eventually becomes what we repeatedly do, aka a habit.

Let’s take the above example and run through it with 2 different types of individuals.

First, let’s say I ask Client A to tell me about herself. She responds with, “Well, I’ve got 3 kids. They’re all out of the house and now it’s time that I take care of me. I want to enjoy my life. I want to feel good about myself. I want to lose this weight and be happy again.” What could you pull from that simple response?

How about Client B, who’s response is simply, “I’m here because my wife made me join the gym.” What would you get from that?

And yes, I’ve had this happen…a few times, actually.

Looking at the two, you can probably tell that Client A is much more driven to change. Client B probably won’t stick with it for long, unless I’m able to quickly find a fire to light under his butt. But moreover, Client A could possibly become frustrated if results don’t happen right away. Or, she could push way too hard out of the gate and nosedive into the tarmac before she even gets off the ground. Client B could actually hit it off with his trainer – after all, he’s got a great sense of humor – and may begin to look forward to sweating a few times each week, who knew?

My point is, getting to know somebody is THE top factor in knowing how I can best serve them. So, my next question is:

How well do you know yourself?

How would you answer my question? Would you tell me what you do for work? Would you explain your current situation? Tell me how stressed you are? All the above are answers, but none of them are really what I’m asking about; YOU.

  • Can you tell me what you value? For example, what’s important to you? Being practical or optimistic?
  • Can you tell me your identity? For example, you’re the type of person who likes/loves/hates ______ (working hard, learning visually, being family-oriented)
  • Can you tell me your current goals? What would you feel good about accomplishing? What would you set out to do if time/finances weren’t an issue?

The more clearly you can define all of the above, the better you set yourself up for future success. Most people walking around today cannot clearly tell you their values, what they identify with, or even their goals. Some of us have dreams, but that’s where they remain. Because until you take those dreams and put plans behind them, that’s where they’ll stay.

Why is it so difficult to know yourself? Surely we just have to stop and think about it, right? Well, maybe. But maybe not.

Know thyself not thy media

If you’re unhappy with your body – as most of us are – you’ll soon realize that you want to be healthy. Your next step may be to run a search for “healthy,” or “great workout plan,” or perhaps “how to eat vegetables without making a funny face.” But you’ll eventually come across a photoshopped fitness model smiling as she eats a piece of broccoli. <– (that last one presents an awesome combo, broccoli and butts, hmmm.)

First, you’ll hate her and her perfect abs. Next, you’ll start to get the idea that she is the picture of health. Finally, you’ll go to the gym with that picture in your head, not realizing the extremes the model went through to get that perfect picture and the money the promoting company spent on post-production.

Four months later, you’re out the cash from a membership, out the sweat and motivation from all your hard work, and loaded with frustration from your lack of expected results.

Or let’s say you don’t care about working out, you just want to eat a little healthier. So you Google “how to eat healthier” and this insanity shows up. How would you even know where to start? Would you eat more veggies? More fruits? More “qui-noah? What the hell is qui-noah?” Maybe you should try Acai or Goji berries? What about Shark cartilage? What about –what about—-brain…malfunctioning….all systems shutting down…..

Imagine if you had a clear idea of your values and identity. Imagine if you had a predetermined, specific goal already in place to help guide you through the jungle that is the internet and the overgrowth that a Google search result can quickly become.  Imagine that you knew you wanted to eat more veggies, or less of those green things, or more meat, or less bread, etc. Knowing ahead of time can save you more time, effort, and frustration down the road.

Ok…So now what?

In keeping with my Facebook promise, I’m keeping today’s post a little shorter than usual. Not gonna lie, it was difficult working everything I wanted to say into 1,000 words (technically, I still failed). So I’ve decided I’ll be expanding on Core Values, what mine are, how to find yours, and why they’re so stinking important, in the next few weeks. So keep your eyeballs and mouse clickers ready.

In the meantime, you can find a sample of an Identity, Value, and Goal worksheet here to get the ball rolling. Give it a look, then give it some time. Think it over and see what you can come up with. Share your answers with me down below or on the Facebook page. Be warned, this isn’t easy. It takes some digging. But once you get it, it will make you a better, stronger person. One who knows what they want out of life. One that refuses to settle for less. One that sets a goal and accomplishes it.

Until the next post, try to find yourself and let me know what you see. Go be awesome!

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