Exercise: Being and becoming

We define ourselves by what we are. This goes for individuals as well as groups of people.

But life is change and learning. Everything is always in flux, is always developing. So shouldn’t you define yourself at least as much by what you’re becoming? I think, that if you derive your identity solely from what you are right now, you’re missing something crucial.

Basing your identity only on what you are right now, may narrow the way you think about the future. In the future you will be changed. You won’t be exactly as you are right now. So if your thinking about yourself is limited to what you are now, it may be difficult to see all the potential the future holds. This might lead to anxiety about the future and change in general.

I’ve come up with an exercise that can shed light on this issue.

It’s quite simple: Define who you are. Write down the most essential characteristics about you, each on a separate line.

Then try to think of what you are becoming. Not necessarily what you want to be, just what you’re on your way to be. Put each of these on a line ot its own.

Next to each of the lines, put down when and how long that particular characteristic is true for you. Your current job for instance:
Consultant: 1997-2007 (if 10 years is how long you think you’ll last)

If you want to go further, you could add the things you have been.

I would argue that’s a better definition of you, than just what you are right now. You could do the same exercise for your company, your country or any group of people.

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