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This past week as I was attending a networking meeting, I heard a woman say these exact words when asked, “what’s your biggest challenge right now?”

She went on to explain that she just recently left her 20+ year corporate career to venture into the unknown and become an entrepreneur. She said, “I had no problems introducing myself when I was in Corporate America but now, I’m at a loss at what to say. I’m having an identity crisis.”

Sound familiar?

I knew exactly how she felt because I felt the same way when I took the leap and left behind familiarity to blaze a new path 20 years ago. I remember feeling awkward and unsure as I introduced myself and my business to others. I definitely wasn’t confident and my head would spin at the thought of describing my business to others who didn’t know me. I recognized that look, her head was spinning too. 

If you’re in this space too, help is on the way.

Lost Identity

Too often we allow our jobs, or what we do for work, our titles, or even our achievements to become our identity. When you leave all of that familiarity behind your body, and mind, go into crisis mode – it completely freaks out screaming, “OMG who am I now that I no longer work for X company?”

Smart Girl, take a deep breath! It’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable and a sense of loss even though you desperately wanted to do this. 

It’s time to separate fiction from reality.

Reality: Your identity is who you are and how you show up in the world around you, not necessarily what you did or achieved for X company. I promise you haven’t lost your identity it’s probably just been buried underneath clutter over the years and it’s time to do a little digging to reconnect with her.

Reconnecting with your identity is crucial for you to build a successful business. When we work with clients on figuring out their special recipe, this is the work that’s so important. It’ll show up in your offers, the words on your website, your marketing materials, social media posts, and even how you introduce at networking events.

Doing the work gives you the confidence you need to step into your new you, your new skin for others to see. 

5 Steps to Overcome the Identity Crisis

1. Network

Getting out there and meeting people helps you to step into your new story. Networking helps you live in the present and prepare for the future, not relive the past.

The people that you’ll meet now have no idea who you were in the past or what you accomplished. In fact, they don’t even care. All they care about is who you are today, the person standing in front of them and how you can help them.

2. Create a love box

A couple of months after I took the leap, I decided to make myself a “love box.” Every time something, or someone, made me feel loved or special as an entrepreneur I put it in my box. It served as a gentle reminder that others saw what I was creating and saw the new me vs. the old one. It can be an email, card, testimonial, or anything that tells you that you’re making a difference doing what you’re doing, and what you love doing.

When you have those really icky feelings or bad days pull out your love box as a reminder of the empire you’re building. Remember, nothing great was ever built overnight, it takes time and patience.

3. Change the story

When those feelings of doubt and fear bubble up inside you think of them as a reminder that you’re growing and writing your new story.

4. Ask for help!

Women love to help other women succeed. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

5. Be gentle with yourself.

Leaving behind the life that you’ve known for so long is just hard. Admit it and accept it. You’re leaving behind a community, a place where you felt confident, and knew how to play the game. Love yourself through this the way you would love a friend going through the same thing. 

If you’re about to leap from the corporate world, or have leapt, we’d love to hear from you and find out what challenges you’re facing. We promise that the business, and life, you’re dreaming about is just a few simple steps away. We’d love to show you how.

I’ll see you on Thursday for our Facebook Live @ 12:30 CST and until then be present, be strong, be you! 

Prefer to listen? We’ve got you, Smart Girl. Click on the Podcast icon and you’re golden!