Discover and Design Your True Identity

When you want to make a transformational change—say you want to start a business or become a lifestyle entrepreneur and have more freedom and opportunity—you need to have an honest assessment of where you’re at, as a starting point.

In my post about overcoming limiting beliefs, we talked about the negative underlying assumptions you might have about the world.  Do you think that people are out to screw you?  Do you think that business people are all evil and corrupt?  Do you think that the world is going to explode and the oceans are going to sweep over all the continents?

The list goes on and on, but you need to take an assessment of what underlying thought patterns you have that relate to your experience with the external world at large.

How Family and Social Expectations Affect Your Identity

First let’s talk about the reason for this.  One of the things that really impacted me while learning from two of my mentors, Bryan Franklin and Jennifer Russell, was the idea of being totally right and OK with where you are right now. They told me to accept my current self, state and circumstances as perfectly constructed to give me maximum flexibility in choosing any direction I want to moving forward.

If you’re feeling stressed or pulled in a certain direction, whether that’s parents encouraging you to become a doctor or friends that are all going into banking, you need to be right with the current circumstances and not be in a place of having tension. You might feel like it would be a huge departure from your family or your core group of friends to go in a different direction and become an entrepreneur, but you need to be able to choose any direction that you do want to go and move decisively in that direction.

In any event, the beginning stages of discovering your identity involve first uncovering the underlying assumptions you have about the world, the expectations that people you care about have for you, and just acknowledging them. Write it down, make a journal entry or record them in some way to acknowledge they exist. That alone may be a relief.

Family systems are probably one of the largest influences on our worldview and we tend to adopt the mindsets, attitudes, prejudices, worldview and outlook that our parents have from a young age.  So it seems like an extra layer of pressure when you’re thinking about starting a business or traveling or having a different type of lifestyle than many people around you in your social circle and family. Take an inventory of what people expect from you and then recognize that you have the decision, the autonomy, and the freewill to go in any direction that feels right to you.

One of the biggest takeaways in discovering your identity is knowing that it’s OK to try different things in life and that the consequences are rarely as large as we think they are.

The Discovering Your Identity Exercise

Discover Your Identity Diagram

The Discover Your Identity Diagram – from Lifestyle Entrepreneur (US edition)

In terms of doing this self-analysis, this process of uncovering your underlying worldviews and so forth, there’s a framework that I use. The identity model in Lifestyle Entrepreneur centers around this philosophy, which is know, do, be. A sequence that happens as follows:

  1. When you know what you want…
  2. it becomes clear what must be done, and as you do
  3. eventually it will come to be your identity.

All the different businesses I’ve started over the past decade have been in different, unrelated fields. It was the experience that backed me into this framework—thinking about what led me from being in a rock band to becoming an investment banker to becoming a cofounder of a renewable energy credit startup to living all over Europe and becoming a dating coach.

Somewhere in this process of discovering your identity and moving in a new direction and into a new business or new role in life, at some point you realize “Wow, I’m here“. There’s this blurred line that you cross at some point where people now experience you as the person that you previously envisioned yourself being. It’s a great feeling!

Breaking Down the Know, Do, Be Framework

With the components of the identity framework, starting with the know, I’ve labeled what I call three internal identity drivers: your mental, emotional, and physical aspects.

Your mental is your thoughts, your intellect.  Emotional is your passions, your feelings, things that insight most into you. Physical is how you manage your body and what shape you’re in, what you do for fitness, etc.  Those are three signposts or guiding topics for this internal investigation.

The external identity drivers are how people experience you in the world.  What are you known for?  What do you know specific to an industry? What do you need to learn? Those are the things that people can tap into.

Then there’s do. To do the things you want to do, what are the actual actions? These, ironically, can be very different from what people perceive as the lifestyle or the things that somebody does day to day.

Learn what you need to do and be clear on what the actual actions are that comprise the identity and the lifestyle you want to have. Really find out what they are, then make sure that you’re OK with that and that you’re not grasping towards an illusory image of what this new role in your life could be.

The actual actions that you take ultimately that lead to who you are. That’s the be component, like a title or a business card that you can envision of your future self. When that becomes a reality and people experience you in that regard, then you’ve accomplished building a new identity around your passion.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be delving more into our the specifics of identifying and designing your internal and external identity drivers, so stay tuned for those posts!

NEXT STEPS: The topic of identity and lifestyle design goes way deeper than can be covered in one blog post, or even the series of three that are coming up. However in my Business In a Weekend program we spend the first two hours diving deep into your current identity and creating a compelling vision for the future for both your lifestyle and business

The next Business In a Weekend runs Feb 21-23, click below to learn more and grab the sample chapters from Lifestyle Entrepreneur which goes into identity in greater detail.

Business In a Weekend Promo Banner

Check out the next post in this 3-part series on Discovering Your Internal Identity Drivers

Hope this post was helpful and remember to always learn what you need to know, to do what you love doing, so you can be the person you truly deserve to be!

To your success,

Jesse Krieger


About Jesse Krieger

Jesse Krieger is the founder and publisher for Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press. International best selling author of Lifestyle Entrepreneur and Host of Bestseller Summit Live. Connect on Facebook, Google+, and YouTube


  1. Wise words Jesse. I really like this paragraph:

    “Somewhere in this process of discovering your identity and moving in a new direction and into a new business or new role in life, at some point you realize “Wow, I’m here“. There’s this blurred line that you cross at some point where people now experience you as the person that you previously envisioned yourself being. It’s a great feeling!”

    This is so true. I always thought that who I was defined my actions. It really blew my mind when I realized it’s actually the other way around. It’s like the world suddenly opens itself up to you. Your actions define you’re identity and when you’re shaping or expanding it people tend to reject it at first and embrace it later.

    • Thanks Jasper!

      Yeah, you’re right on that “when you’re shaping or expanding it people tend to reject it at first and embrace it later” – That’s true…if people weren’t expecting the change, or have other intentions for you. But don’t you also find that when changing locations often it’s easier to meet people in that new “role” or “identity” and that’s the only way they have known you – So it can be a clean break from your past and any open door to a new future. That’s why I love travel

  2. For me as a lifestyle entrepreneur, my motivation isn’t solely money, but freedom and flexibility of schedule to spend with family and friends. I’ve been able to do that for a while now and experienced a lot of opportunities that I’m grateful for. That being said, not being focused enough on money hasn’t produced the financial success I’d like to achieve. I believe it comes down to sales and marketing, which I’m not scared of, but don’t know exactly what to focus on. I realize about myself that I can be a hard worker, but I’m obsessed with efficiency. I’d rather work smart vs. work hard. Like most business people I’d rather focus on my craft/skills, but that’s not what pays the bills.

    • Hey Scott – I think of money as the means to which you achieve freedom and a flexible schedule, not as an end in and of itself. I think that trips people up because if it’s just a number you’re after it can seem abstract and disconnected from the outcomes (lifestyle, freedom, travel) that you want.

      Being conscious that you want to focus more on making money and building wealth is a great mindset moving into your next focus. I feel similar, in that historically I’ve focused on making enough to do the activities I want (travel Asia for the summer…travel through Europe, study Chinese abroad, etc) – but then didn’t have much left over, and re-focused on making more.

      Now I’m looking longer term and think about building business assets and partnerships that can provide a number of unrelated streams of income.

      I’ve got some good sales and marketing resources for you, PM me or checkout my book and learn about my signature training program Business In a Weekend:

  3. John Hopkins says

    Jesse has a great process for self-discovery, bringing your ideas into focus, and pragmatically implementing your personal vision into your work and lifestyle.

    • Hi John – Thanks for the ups my friend. I’m very excited to see how you design and develop YOUR next identity in business, a topic we’ll continue exploring together.

      To your success – Jesse

  4. I think discovering your identity is a process. Not until you have experienced the joy of leading a particular activity can you identify with this activity. But this experience is often the end of a long journey consisting of trials and errors. At first, you have to dip your toes in and feel the waters, be disappointed, change course, etc., until you know for sure what you really want to do and be. Is it “know” first and “do” and “be” second? Or is it “take action” first and learn what you want in the process?

    • Hi Thomas, good to hear from you here! Reading your comment made me reflect on how I’ve approached this question in my own life over time. I guess I look at the trial-and-error period as a continual journey of discovery. I’m always getting interested in new things and will dedicate some time to exploring them, the industry, the opportunity…or if it’s a lifestyle pursuit, exploring what it would take to travel, study a language, start a new sport or activity.

      At some point I’ve got enough information and preliminary experience to either go deeper, or fade it out and focus on other things. The businesses I’ve started, the places I’ve lived, the languages I’ve learned are all borne from taking that initial discovery phase and deciding to go for mastery.

      Does that help?

      Talk soon – Jesse

  5. It’s not that I don’t know who I am or what I want or what I like doing, in fact I even have an idea about how I could make money out of it – it’s that I have trouble with the mechanics of realisation – and that usually comes down to technology, getting frustrated and -probably- not wanting to spend the time and money on getting someone else to make it happen!

  6. One problem I have is that I find something I like to do for awhile, and then I get bored with. Do you think it’s realistic for me to continue trying to start businesses, or should I just focus on being a freelancer. My life tends to be both.

    • Hi Elizabeth – Absolutely continue starting businesses!! One of the main reasons I wrote Lifestyle Entrepreneur was to try and find a common thread between all the disparate business and lifestyle interests I have and had.

      What ties together being in a rock band, to running a promotional products company with factories in China, to being a professional dating coach?

      When I boiled it all down, it was a love for the idea-to-launch phase of entrepreneurship; coming up with a new idea I’m passionate about and turning it into a full-fledged business. As long as you acknowledge your area of genius then you can find people to pick up and run with your ideas after you’ve contributed your piece.

      Looking forward to talking more about this with you!

      To your success – Jesse

  7. Well this is the heart of the matter. You’ve touched on the central nerve of productivity and success. Approaching 50, I’ve just come into my true self. It took this long for a lot of reasons, but I’m here. So now everything appears a bit ominous and overwhelming and feeling stuck is the result. I’m so used to having my dreams not realized that I’m willing to hang my head and keep shuffling. But that’s NOT what I want to do….my goal just seems so out there…..what first steps to take? How to make it happen?

  8. This is GREAT. I really believe that understanding your true identity is essential for achieving ultimate success. I work with many types of businesses and I am still surprised as to how many of them can’t verbally define their identity. This website would be perfect for them and I am going to pass the info on…….

    • Hey Rocky – Awesome, glad you enjoyed it! You know, after looking back through the defining characteristics of the businesses I started and were involved in over the last 10 years, I came to the conclusion that defining that brand (or business identity) is actually the starting point from which logo designs, websites, marketing language are borne from. At least that’s where I’m at mentally now.

      I now think in terms of defining a benefit to the customer and phrasing it in a memorable, easy-to-understand way. That becomes the basis for the brand and the promise of the brand.

      Definitely appreciate you passing the word along about my blog.

      Look forward to talking soon!


  9. This is a really great way to get your life focused and in order! I am just fully realizing my true self as of recent. Another good thing to do is think: “if i could do anything in the world next week, regardless of anything, what would it be?”

    • Hey Rob, glad to hear it! You want to know The Million Dollar Question? Ok here it is:

      “If you had one million dollars right now, what would you be doing?”

      Here’s what I’ve found; once you really give that question some thought and answer it in a way that is authentic and true to you, it very rarely costs even close to $1m to do. Therefore, you now have a realistic price target for doing what you would absolutely love and can shift your efforts to realize that amount to have the lifestyle of your dreams.

      Look forward to talking soon – Jesse

  10. Thank you Jesse,
    Great article Jesse, I just wanted to side track to thank you for stopping and talking to me that October night.
    I was lucky to be inspired by Jesse by a chance meeting at a conference. Jesse inspired me to take risks and show me that I did not need to be constraint to the ideal job (9-5). I have always waited for someone to be my mentor in business , and now I am glad that I have the chance to work with Jesse. I quickly signed up when I heard about Jesse’s lifestyle Entrepreneur and I jumped at the chance. I have not been disappointed since I did. I already had a personal exchange with Jesse who gave me some great advice and I have already sold my first website (which took me 2hours to make). I made more in those two hours then my normal 9-5 and I have a good career that I love. So seeing that with a couple of corrections I can increase my wealth and freedom.

    So if you are reading this and deciding to sign up or by his book. I would tell you to do it because he has done it all before and has had success with it. Not only has he done it but he has worked with some of the top earners in the business world. If you want to cut your learning curve when starting out seek out a mentor, why not pick the top one who has trained and inspired thousands. Even if you don’t Jesse you will always have a student in me and my respect. You where such a down to earth guy who understands our sticking points.
    Thanks again,
    Colin J

    • Wow thanks a lot Colin, that is a moving testimonial, I really appreciate it!

      I’ll tell you truthfully, it’s hearing stories and successes like this that make what I do so rewarding. I came to a point where I had started or co-founded over 5 companies and I still love entrepreneurship passionately, but I realized “well, what if I could codify what I’ve been doing and light the way for others to do the same” – and that question resulted in Lifestyle Entrepreneur.

      Awesome to hear you were able to start and sell a business with a relatively little amount of work/effort. That is the lifestyle entrepreneur’s way “high-leverage action and having fun in the process”

      Look forward to talking more soon – Jesse

  11. Kevin N Thomas II says

    A fair and unbias self assessment is absolutely necessary when preparing ones self for “the next step.” Regardless of how major or minor the step/change may be. Most people over estimate the good or best qualities, while ignoring the weaknesses. Ignoring the seemingly less qualities is setting ones self up for failure in some way, at some point. Great posts Jesse.

    • Thanks Kevin, it’s interesting as one of the things I teach, and certainly believe in, is that it’s better to “play to your strengths, instead of just strengthening your weaknesses” – but that too requires having an awareness of what those weaknesses, or blind spots, are.

      I know that I just can not be consistent with book keeping and accounting stuff. So instead of hunkering down and taking courses or spending hours mastering Quickbooks and TurboTax, I have a dedicated team that does my book keeping and gives me bi-weekly reports. Ahhhh, now I can play to my strengths and look for patterns, plan strategically and be well informed as to where all the numbers are.

      Just one example, but sure there are many more like it.

      All the best – Jesse

  12. This is very cool stuff, those that follow this blue print will definitely find clarity and live a life worth living. As they say passively living is actively dying. Those that want to live life to the fullest should definitely heed your words

    • Thanks a lot Dani! I really like that quote, “Passively living is actively dying”. Haven’t heard that before but sums it up very succinctly.

      So what are you focusing on in 2014 to live life to the fullest…what would make this year a big win for you?

      Best – Jesse

  13. I grew up hearing the standard “Go to university and get a good secure job”. Entrepreneurship just wasn’t talked about in my environment. I’m luckier than many in that my degree led me to a well-paying job that I love and has taken me around the world. However, that good job can be a double-edged sword which pays the bills, but breeds complacency at the same time. I’m now at the point of my life where I want to develop multiple income streams while taking on the challenge of being responsible for a business of my own. Although I have no intentions of quitting what I do, it would be nice to know that I had the option, and becoming a Lifestyle Entrepreneur is the way to do it.

    Jesse’s reply to Rob’s post about asking what you would be doing if handed one million dollars struck a chord with me. Many of our dreams/goals/aspirations can be done for well under 1M….it’s the courage to take the first step more than the finances which hold us back. It’s now time for me to take that first step.

    I’m looking forward to the upcoming relase of LS Entrepreneur, taking a Business in a Weekend Seminar, and working further with Jesse in the future!

    • Yo Colin! Good to hear from you here my man.

      I like your perspective, and it is such a double edge sword how security, or benefits, or guaranteed comfortability can breed complacency. It happens almost subconsciously, but of course it’s unrealistic since you can’t accurately compare your current situation to an “unknown”…the reality of starting a new business is that you “don’t know what you don’t know”, until you take the steps to make it happen. But then it becomes pretty clear what must be done when you’re deep in it.

      The “million dollar question” seems to have resonated with a lot of people. I’ll probably do a separate blog post for that since it’s such an easy to grasp idea, but that has such broad implications.

      Can’t wait to have you on Business In a Weekend brotha 🙂

  14. Juan Carlos says

    The paragraph “There’s this blurred line that you cross at some point where people now experience you as the person that you previously envisioned yourself being.” is, i think, what everyone wants when dreaming big myself included. Not so much as the other people perceiving you but you being that person.

    • Hey Juan, for sure man that is the big end goal that’s worth working for and it’s so rewarding when someone reflects back to you that “you’re there” – It’s so much doing it so that other people notice/perceive you as being the person you want to be…but more that that is when you know for sure you’ve made a lot of progress.

      Another indicator that you’ve built out a new aspect of your identity is when people are talking about the topic / area of interest / passion you have and someone says “Oh, you gotta talk to Juan about that, he’s the expert!” – Cause it shows people have categorized you in their mind as the go-to guy for the thing you’ve been working to establish yourself for

      Best – Jesse

  15. Hello Mr. Krieger,

    Wonderful post! I have already identified my passion and what I want to achieve lifestyle wise…but have so many questions on how to get there!
    In a nutshell, Hypnosis and natural health are my passions, my ideal lifestyle is working from home along with some in person sessions, moving to Hawaii to live with my sister, but coming back to my hometown to visit once a year.
    How do I compete with licensed therapists? (I haven’t finished college)
    How do find out what the demand is…do I use keyword searches, SEO, how do I do market research?
    I have a health condition and therefore need insurance and a secure income to keep up with medical and preventative health care bills…just curious how others have dealt with this?

    Your perspective on actions is so true. In fact, neuroscience has theorized (and proven to some degree) that actions actually precurse our consciousness of the said action. Basically, we perform an action and THEN form a story as to why we did it. For example, one could eat something not on their diet plan, and consequently think…well, I’ve never been able to follow a diet anyway, I’m a failure …and then later on feel compelled to uphold that belief, and hence a negative thought pattern has become part of their identity.

    I would love to get some advice or suggestions!

    • Hi Jessie – Good to hear from you, thanks for the thoughtful comment! For your situation, people that are looking for hypnosis and natural health products/services should be pretty easy to target, especially if you’re based out of a set city/place – So for example you could search around for “Hypnotists in Hawaii” or other variations to see who is offering and marketing hypnosis services in Hawaii.

      In terms of competing with licensed therapists, in general I’d say that people care about results, specifically, results that you can give them, much more than certifications, degrees and licenses. Now, that’s true a point…for example I wouldn’t want an “unlicensed” brain surgeon working on me. But if you have client testimonials and good outcomes for them, feature those and just don’t make much mention about licenses, etc.

      Let me know how it goes and hit me up with questions as they arise – Jesse

  16. Hi

    I have started my journey with online sales affiliate internet network marketing.

    Getting the remaining tech pieces in place.

    I am confident that it will start to make revenue soon.

    It is most definately my passion.

    I get up in the morning and wonder what I will learn next about the subject.


    • Hi Cameron,

      Glad to hear you have found something you’re passionate about and get up excited to work on it and learn more about your industry. That is a great starting point for building an enduring business.

      What industries are you focused on?

      Best – Jesse

  17. Teddy Papadopoulos says

    I like the simplicity of know do be. It’s easy to remember and implement.

    I took the business in a weekend this past December. It opened my eyes and was well worth the investment in time and money. I also want to thank Jesse for helping me brainstorm business ideas with his phone consultation. In a short conversation I was able to create business ideas that cater to the things I enjoy. I look forward to working with him on building my business.

  18. Jesse, very informative and insightful article. Although I’m a little late on the board of discussion but still wanted to say thank you for bringing this up and sharing your thoughts&experiences. Reading through article, & seeing other people having difficulty of finding true identity, makes me feel that I am not actually alone and how people think and act to change and with your help, framework Know, Do, Be, totally makes sense. I am looking forward to join one of your Business in a weekend seminars and discover & learn more.

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Mirshad, thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, the process of finding (or dis-covering) your true identity can be difficult at times, but it’s always worthwhile when you learn something new about yourself, or you gain new clarity on one of your interests or passions.

      One way I put it in my book, Lifestyle Entrepreneur is “when you know what you want, then it becomes clear what must be done. As you do, eventually you come to BE and that is your identity” – Stepping fully into that new role as an entrepreneur and someone with clarity on the kind of lifestyle you want to lead.

      Looking forward to have you on our upcoming Business In a Weekend!

      To your success – Jesse

  19. Hi Jesse,

    I like this framework. I think what a lot of people struggle with (including myself at times) is getting from knowing what to do intellectually to actually doing it. I guess this is linked to the “fail forward fast” principle. If you can somehow get yourself to overcome all the mental hurdles and just experiment with different actions, you will be much better off even if you fail in the short term.

    All the best,

    • Thanks Soren – Yes, isn’t it interesting how “overcoming all the mental hurdles” is actually the primary challenge of entrepreneurship? Once you begin taking action, it’s a fairly linear process of trying ideas, analyzing what works, improving what doesn’t – rinse, wash, repeat.

      Or, as I like to put it: “When you KNOW what you want, it becomes clear what must be done, as you DO, eventually you come to BE and that is your identity”

  20. Very inspiring, it truly is, Jesse. Thanks for sharing this to us. I like what you’ve said,

    “If you’re feeling stressed or pulled in a certain direction, whether that’s parents encouraging you to become a doctor or friends that are all going into banking, you need to be right with the current circumstances and not be in a place of having tension. You might feel like it would be a huge departure from your family or your core group of friends to go in a different direction and become an entrepreneur, but you need to be able to choose any direction that you do want to go and move decisively in that direction.”

    My god, this is the best thing I’ve ever read today. This is definitely true, if you want to pursue a career that you like, you have to go and move decisively in that direction. Whatever it is, you should definitely chase your dream and fight for it.

    Great article, Jesse!


  1. […] the previous post Discover and Design Your True Identity, I laid out the components of the Identity Framework and the progression towards fully owning and […]

  2. […] Part 1 – Discover and Design Your True Identity we talked about how our upbringings, family and social ties unconsciously shape our identities to […]

  3. […] On Being Passionate and Proactive: “I really think that everybody has the potential to build a business based on the skills they have and what they’re passionate about. It’s too common that we don’t use our full potential. Take the time to get clear on how you would prefer to be living and doing business and go for it!” – Anna completed the Identity exercise in Lifestyle Entrepreneur, you can do it too here: Discover and Design Your True Identity […]

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