Grab a pen and paper, set the timer for ten minutes and write down everything you can think of to describe you. There is no wrong answer; the key is to keep writing for the full ten minutes. When the timer rings, stop and look back over what you wrote. What three adjectives stand out to you?
I recently attended a workshop on podcasting. The instructor described himself in three words. Witty, Gay, Entertaining. He didn’t say he was a podcaster (even though he has a following of 35k), he didn’t say professor or writer either (even though he was both of those too). Podcaster, writer, professor —those are things he does. Not who he is. By being crystal clear about who he is, it carries over into every area of his life. The workshop on podcasting was witty, gay and entertaining as I’m sure are his podcast and book.
When I did the above exercise, I kept coming up with nouns. Teacher, reader, writer, scholar. I needed adjectives which tell what motivates me –why I do, not what I do. My husband showed me an easy way to identify the difference between a noun and an adjective. If you need ‘a’ after I am, it’s a noun. With an adjective, there is no ‘a’. It should read, I am happy; not I am a teacher.
I am a ______________ (noun)
I am ________________ (adjective)
My three words – Curious, Passionate, and Inspiring.
Curious. My earliest memory is standing outside our front screen door, holding up three fingers and exclaiming to my mom that I was three years old and in two more fingers I would be a whole hand. I remember looking at my hand and being amazed that discovery. That insatiable desire for knowledge and discovery has led me to a life of studying, researching and reading.
Passionate. There is a fire in my bones that can’t be quenched. I tend to dream big and don’t quit easily. One boss affectionately referred to me as a bull dog.
Inspiring. When I get to the end of my life, I want to be a woman who loved lavishly and extended grace upon grace. I often find myself coming up short, but that is my goal. I love to encourage people and am driven by the desire to live a life that inspires people to be the best version of themselves. Life is a beautiful and precious gift –I don’t want to waste it.
It took me a long time to settle on these words. They extend back to my earliest memories, yet they also encompass what I want my remaining days to be. They are what motivates me, fulfills me and are the core of me –no matter what I am doing.
Another exercise is to email five friends and ask them to describe you in three words. It’s interesting to see how others see you and it helped me clarify my choices.