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Pushing Through An Identity Crisis: 31 Straight Days of Writing

Have you ever dealt with an identity crisis, not sure of who you really are?

identity crisisDo you wear multiple hats and thus stumble for the right words when people ask, “So, what do you do?”

Did this ever lead to an impasse where you weren’t quite sure how to present yourself?

I’ve been there in every form and fashion since I started writing on this blog over two years ago. At the beginning I still was teaching high school and always felt the blog writing was an add-on to any conversation. When people would ask me “What do you do?” I’d respond by saying I was a teacher and then somewhat sheepishly add how I was writing a personal finance blog on the side.

The first part about teaching people could relate to and was met with the typical follow up questions one might expect when inquiring about someone’s career. The add-on about blogging produced nothing. The statement crash landed.

The experience continued earlier this summer when I began to lead with “I’m now a stay at home dad.” Same results.

It’s hard to convince yourself you are something when nobody sees you that way. All people could see in me was teacher or stay at home dad. They didn’t see personal finance writer.

I’ve come to realize that wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. You are who you say you are. People will follow your lead and respond accordingly.

Identity Crisis: Turn Pro In Your Mind

Last week I had two different encounters with random strangers in my town. In each I decided to lead with the statement “I’m a personal finance blogger…I write about money” instead of saying “I’m a stay at home dad.” Do you know what happened? We actually had conversations where we talked about money problems they were having.

How cool! I engaged people on an issue that has been a passion of mine for years…all because I led with it.

“Turn pro in your mind” Jeff Goins said at the Friday morning keynote at FinCon14. He couldn’t have been more right.

You can’t be something until you believe you are. If doubt is present in your mind people will sense it and they will react to that doubt. Why should they be interested in your passion when you don’t lead with it?

Identity Crisis: It’s More Than Believing

Believing starts the process and is crucial in helping you cross the finish line. It doesn’t work alone though. To get where you want to go requires habitual practice.

To truly become that person you desire requires frequency and commitment. In my case as a personal finance writer, more than I’ve probably been putting in. If I’m going to claim blogging as my calling I’ve got to engage in it every day.

So to that end, and in response to the inspiration I received at FinCon this past weekend, I’m self-imposing a challenge to myself. The goal will be to write 31 straight days in a row – one writing session for each day in the month of October. I’m calling it a Writing Oktoberfest.

I won’t publish here everyday…I just want to get in the habit of writing everyday. Again, according to Jeff, that’s when excellence begins.

For this challenge I commit to write at least 500 words per day. That’s about 350 words shorter than this post but long enough to push myself a little. Hopefully by doing that I’ll write between 20-25 total posts over the course of the month that I can use here and elsewhere.

Will You Join Me?

I know this will be the toughest blog related assignment I’ve tackled yet. It’s going to take planning, discipline and a bit of luck (in that life doesn’t throw a curveball my way in October that might disrupt my plan). I could really use some accountability and support to see me through.

To that end, I’m asking if any of my fellow bloggers would like to join me in my Writing Oktoberfest? I can’t promise a huge beer party when we complete our goal. Just the camaraderie and support of friends pushing each other to be the best they can be.

Don’t feel as though you have to do 500 words either. Perhaps your schedule will only allow 200 or 100 words per day. That’s fine. You can still come along on the journey.

And this doesn’t have to be just for writers. Maybe you want to do something healthy, like not drink soda for 31 days in a row. Or perhaps abstain from watching TV for 31 days in a row. If writing is not your thing pick something that is and join our group. Excellence in any endeavor is only possible when you habitually practice.

I’ve found with any challenge there is strength in numbers. If you’d like to join Writing Oktoberfest, click here and send me an email expressing your interest. Over the course of the month we can encourage one another as we go through the process. I’ll sure need it.

Questions: For people who have dual careers or responsibilities how do you decide what to lead with? Anyone ever do a daily, month long challenge of some kind? What was the toughest part you encountered? What kinds of an identity crisis are you now facing?

Image at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Selfies in Our Narcissistic World

Prior Post: My First Rant: Change Your Mattress Every 5-7 Years?

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  4. So true Brian about being positive when telling people what you do. When I lost my job and would meet new people, I would just tell them “nothing”. Like, I did nothing. I said it as a joke, but my wife stopped me once and said that I don’t do “nothing” I blog and I should be proud of it. I never thought I was ashamed of not having a job, but I guess deep down I was. I now tell everyone I am a blogger. Most times they will ask a few follow up questions, but sometimes, they aren’t able to grasp it. So I just follow up that I am a writer.

    • Yeah… it’s hard to explain to people outside the blogging world who don’t read them (like I used to be). But maybe therein lies the challenge for us…getting them excited enough about our topic to become a reader.

  5. What you said about people’s responses to “I write a blog” sounds very familiar! But now that you mention it, I think I do come across as self-conscious when I say it. Every once in a while, a real conversation gets going, and people seem to be relieved to talk about their money issues. I love it when that happens! I’m a teacher too, so I can’t commit to writing 500 words each day, but I can commit to doing something blog-related every day of October. All the best in your 31 straight days of writing!

    • It’s very rewarding what can happen when we finally put ourselves out there with confidence. Doing something on your blog for 31 straight days will be a good challenge. Consider yourself joined to our little group. Best of luck sticking with it!

  6. Hi Brian! First of all, it was so great finally meeting you at FinCon the other week!

    And you know what – I’m totally in on Writing Oktoberfest! I loved Jeff Goins talk, especially establishing a daily habit. Instead of 500 words per day, I’m going to write for 30 minutes straight per day. Not sure how many words can come out of that, but it’s still much more than what I’m used to!

    • Cool…I’ll put you in our group. We are up to 17 people now committed to writing for this challenge…which btw starts tomorrow! 🙂 Best of luck.

  7. Hi Brian,
    I am in! The idea of getting into the habit of writing is great.
    I have been a financial blogger/ adviser for less than year, but feel that for every time that I tell someone what I do, it gets easier and more natural. If we love what we do, it starts to become a part of who we are and then it is much easier to communicate it to our surroundings.
    Blessings, Veronica

  8. This article was well timed for me personally. Usually I tell people my job description is mom since I am a stay at home mom. But I have also wanted to tell people I’m a blogger when they ask. However, because I’m a small blogger and don’t make an income from my blog and I don’t have a huge fallowing….it feels a little silly to say.

    The writing challenge sounds great, you can count me in!

    • I completely get what you are saying…and I’ve felt silly saying it before. But no longer, I’m going to make it my identity with everyone I talk to. Thanks for joining me in the challenge. Let’s help keep each other going!

  9. I don’t write every day and I know I need more practice so I will join you in this challenge. I might not hit 500 every day, but I’ll push myself and see what I can do.

    • Great Aldo…don’t worry about the amount. The benefit will just be in getting in the habit of doing something everyday no matter how small. Pick a goal that seems reasonable to you and try to hit that. I’ve got you in!

  10. Brian, this is SO true!!!! I used to be uncomfortable about telling people I was a writer and an author (I have a published book on prayer) but I’ve learned to be proud of what I’ve done. So many times people think that freelancers don’t have a “real job” nor do stay at home moms and dads do “real work” but you and I both know differently, and we should be proud of our careers!

    • I don’t know why we feel that way sometimes. I really don’t know what there is to be embarrassed about. We should be proud of our work not worried about how other people are going to judge us.

  11. I’m in! I usually write everyday already, but I’m going to push myself to write 500 words for me (that I probably won’t publish). I was freaked out about going to FinCon and introducing myself to strangers as a “freelance writer” as I hadn’t done it before. But I felt good once I got there, and realized I had to turn pro in my mind. That was the whole reason I was there right? It was nice to meet you at FinCon (this is Melanie from Dear Debt as well)

    • I can relate to your nervousness about the conference. But once I started to hang out with and talk with other bloggers I felt more at ease. It’s almost like a switch flipped in my mind that said, “Hey, you do belong here.” Loved meeting you and thanks for joining me on the challenge!

  12. I’ve been thinking I need to step up my writing game so count me in. It’s a great idea, Brian. I 1000% agree that you need to say what you’re doing now. Nothing against stay at home Dad’s or Mom’s but this is your job now, correct, not just a hobby or sideline? Love the fact that it opened up the conversation.

    • Right…It’s beyond hobby. I still don’t know where it’s going to lead but my focus has shifted. I won’t say every post will be written with the expressed purpose of making money. I really enjoy the spontaneity of writing what just comes to mind. But the focus will be more on what I can give to others (beyond just the words of the post) and how that might benefit the growth of the site.

  13. I will sorta be joining you. I’m participating in a 31 day challenge and writing about that challenge every day. I’ll be posting the specifics tomorrow, but I’m excited to do the challenge and thankful for a temporary vision for my blog.

  14. I love the goal! You know what I will join, I have a couple crazy busy work days and out of town days in there, but I can do it…….WE can do it!

    • Great Steven! I have a couple of days in Oct. that I know will be challenging as well. Just gonna have to plan ahead and do what I can. Thanks for the support!

  15. I don’t write everyday at the moment so I shall join for the challenge! 🙂

  16. That’s a great question on what do you lead with. I often try to answer in the context of the relationships. Sometimes that might be both titles: video editor and writer/blogger. I do think you feel more confident with something when you declare it, even if you aren’t truly comfortable yet in the role. Like for me with my learning ukulele, when can I say “I’m a musician?” I suppose any time I feel like it. 🙂

    • “…in the context of the relationships.” That’s a good point…because if I knew I was talking to a stay at home dad I’d probably mention that first. It would build an instant connection.

  17. “You can’t be something until you believe you are.” Love that- Brian. It’s so true. I remember when I used to financial advisors and there were some incredibly talented and smart individuals that I worked with but they didn’t believe in themselves and prospective clients noticed. It’s is funny how just a twist of a phrase, “I’m a personal finance blogger” can change how you think and people respond to you. Good luck with your challenge!

    • “…they didn’t believe in themselves…” As you know the mind is really powerful. We have no chance of being “that thing” if we don’t believe it can happen.

  18. I think it’s awesome you got a great response from strangers just by saying you’re a personal finance blogger. I don’t get asked what I do on a normal basis, so to keep clarifying it at FinCon made me reflect on it – specifically, where I want to go with freelancing. In any case, I should join the challenge! I do a fair bit of writing, but making a commitment to writing every day would help.

    • I’m starting to volunteer the information instead of waiting to get asked. Once you start thinking that way you can work it into most conversations.

  19. Have you read The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield? It’s all about turning pro, and I highly highly recommend it! Great post!

  20. I remember talking with you a bit about this while in NOLA. I think it’s a great idea as I’ve found that writing every day helps me stay on top of my game and keep a clear head. Like Holly, I’m already cranking out a good bit of writing every week so I’ll join as well. I’ve done similar challenges, albeit non-writing ones, in the past. I’ve found they really help in terms of focusing on what it is you’re trying to accomplish which is always good – not to mention the things you take from the time. As an aside, very cool on how your change in approach led to conversations. It’s funny how things like that come out of a change in thinking on our parts. 🙂

    • “It’s funny how things like that come out of a change in thinking on our parts.” I know, and it’s all in the approach and wording sometimes. If I said to people, “I’m a blogger” that kind of died on the table because so many people don’t really know what that means. Also it forces them to ask a follow up question to find out what I blog about and many people are sheepish about asking questions. But when I changed the sequence of words to “I’m a personal finance blogger (or writer),” it becomes immediately clear what I write about. And it sparks interest…everyone is focused on money as it pretty much drives our lives. So by inserting the “personal finance” words it more easily allowed for a deeper conversation to begin.

      Thanks for joining the challenge!

  21. Heck count me in also! I write nearly every day so it shouldn’t be too hard to do 31 days straight. I do find it difficult but like you I’ve started to lead with “I’m a freelance writer/blogger and business consultant” instead of the reverse and it does invite more interesting questions! Great takeaway Brian.

  22. Melinda Primrose says

    I love this idea! I know for me the accountability of a group can be more motivating than personal accountability. I’ve done the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge before. The goal for that is 50000 words in the month of November. NaNoWriMo has a wonderful community that is very encouraging and competitive. It really helped me reach the word goal. Your challenge will be a great warm-up for November. Count me in!

  23. I will join you =) I write anywhere from 5,000-20,000 words per week as it is. Might as well! =)


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