A New Year. A New You?


This is an extension on an excellent post from James Altucher about labels and identity. In his post, James recommends taking a couple minutes and making a list of all the labels that you apply to yourself.

Are you a husband? A wife? A student or a teacher? Are you a writer, entrepreneur, business analyst or a consultant?

Are you happy? Depressed? Angry? Unmotivated? Successful?

Before you cleanse the list and remove the labels as James recommends, take a moment and read over the list. What does each label have in common? Can you see it?

Lying behind each is an experience – something that you went through in your life that resulted in you saying ‘this is who I am’. But are you still having that experience now? Do the labels properly describe what you are doing in the present moment?

The labels we use to define our lives are always transient, fleeting categories that will eventually dissolve. But the realization that behind each label is a set of experiences points to a bigger truth – you are the awareness that is both a student and a teacher, a writer and a critic. Our internal and external forms will change many times throughout our life, but the common thread linking each is the act of self awareness and presence.

Now look back at your list and erase each one by one with complete presence. Does this change who you are?


  1. Interesting exercise — thanks for writing about it. Identity and labels are important things to think about. And although we can create labels to describe us it’s always important not to attach ourseves to these ever changing labels.
    Happy New Year.

    • Glad you found it useful Clare. Labels are a tough subject – in some ways they’re needed to operate in our society, but they definitely need to be treated with caution so we don’t end up internalizing them.


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