3 Tips to Navigate Your Identity Crisis

Have you ever faced an identity crisis? It’s a crisis of meaning where you just don’t know who you are anymore. Sometimes it is extreme and you need help to get through it and sometimes you can use reflection and talking to friends to feel better. A change in how you perceive who you are usually comes with changes in your life circumstances.

Here are some events that can trigger confusion or introspection of your own sense of self:

– Starting or changing a career

– Changing jobs

– Getting laid off

– Getting married

– Getting divorced

– Moving locally or farther

– Losing a loved one

– Raising a family/becoming an empty-nester

– Promotions

– Cosmetic surgery, weight loss or even orthodontic treatment

These events can cause us to question our identity or who we think we are. Many times it is a good thing because we are evolving into the person we’ve always envisioned for our life.

That’s where the crisis comes in. Emotionally, we may not be certain how to act, how to be and if we are ready to step into that new identity. I’ve experienced multiple changes in my life – moves, jobs, careers, family changes and more where I looked again at my own sense of self. I remember the worst identity crisis I experienced was after resigning from a position that no longer matched who I was and my goals. Leaving that position called up all sorts of questions about who I was and I went into a spin of self-doubt and confusion until I started my business.

As a business owner, I love identifying with the compliments and reflections of who I am as a speaker and workshop leader. It aligns with what I love to do and I can see that what I facilitate in my talks and workshops impacts people in a positive way.

Your identity is the outward expression of who you are such that people can describe you to other people or make decisions about you. More importantly though, is your own sense of identity – who do you think you are and who do you want to be?

If you are in transition and confused about your identity and your sense of self, there are a few things you can do.

Relax and Slow Down1. Relax and slow down. Re-connect with who and what is important to you. During transition time, when your identity is changing, your mind may be racing and your ego is certainly taking exception to the change – good or bad.

2. Create a picture of who you want to be, how you want to be seen and how you want people to speak of you. Write it down.

3. Make a list of your talents and abilities. If you are in a spin of self-doubt, ask people who are your supporters. Identify your favorite successes and what is common across all of them.

You don’t have to worry and have a lot of stress during a crisis of identity. Each time you get in that spin, remind yourself that life is a journey and have faith that you will find your sense of self again.

Now go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll make it through.

If you are in transition, I offer a complementary 30-minute consultation to help you reconnect with your true self. Simply fill out this form with your request and your contact information and I will connect with you to set up a call.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland


Fall Transitions

Fall is my favorite season of the year. The colors and the crisp air are so rejuvenating for me. It also signifies that cold weather is coming, which can bring about some dread on my part because I really don’t like cold. Fall is a transition time which mirrors the transitions in our lives. Transitions are a time of joy and a time of

Autumn foliage in Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, Canada

Autumn foliage in Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, Canada

rough waters. We experience many emotions during any time of transition and transitions of the seasons also bring different feelings  and moods and even a nudge for change.

Have you been feeling restless, not sleeping well and maybe, well, just maybe a little out of sorts? You may feel like you want to
change what you are doing , your job, even your career and somehow feeling that where you are just isn’t right.

Perhaps some of your physical conditions are flaring up and you are wondering why because you’ve done everything to manage how  you feel and your body’s health. Even things as simple as needing to move furniture around, clean out closets or decorate also signify that you are ready for change and are in some type of transition.

It’s natural at this time of year to experience symptoms of transition. We are letting go of the summer energy of growth and sunshine  and moving into fall, shifting into different weather patterns and in some cases, different work and everyday tasks.

Last week, one night I woke up just feeling like I was totally ungrounded and even feeling a little ‘woozy.’ And I’m sure you are wondering this – no I didn’t have any alcohol.  I didn’t feel connected in my body.

This ungrounded feeling can come whenever you are going through a personal transition or experiencing the transition of the seasons and the earth. You will even sense it when people around you are going through transition.

It’s not a comfortable feeling. Over the years, I’ve been through many transitions, from changing jobs, careers and where we live to becoming empty-nesters, losing loved ones to helping with parents and grandchildren. All require focus to navigate the transition.

There are several things you can do to support yourself when you feel you are in transition. These are things I use to calm down and regain my focus when I am feeling that my foundation is shifting yet again.

1. Walk outside on the grass, on the beach, in the mountains – wherever you can touch the ground will help. One of the things I do when I have a break from a really busy day is to take a short walk and lean up against a tree trunk when I am checking email on my phone. Maybe that defeats the purpose of being outside, however, that little bit helps me re-center my energy for the rest of the day.

2.  Drinking a lot of water will help your brain function better and might help you think more clearly about your transitions.

3. Develop a sitting or meditation practice. This is simply sitting in a quiet comfortable place for 20 – 30 minutes and focusing on your breath. The goal is to clear your mind as much as possible. Most of us have constant chatter in our heads so if you can clear your mind, even for a nanosecond, it starts to work to calm you inside. I light a small candle and focus my attention on it while saying something like “Breathe in, breathe out” to keep my mind from wandering. A daily meditation practice will change your life in ways you can’t yet understand. You’ll find yourself with less stress and being less reactive as well as increased focus.

One of the most important benefits of a sitting practice is that you start to speak and make decisions from the core of your being – from who you really are, instead of who you think you should be.

That’s a game-changer, which brings me back to the topic of this article. If you are feeling the symptoms of transition, you are being called to step up to another level in your life. You can resist and find reasons to avoid your inner voice or you can make a commitment to a sitting/meditation practice and let the changes unfold more naturally and with ease.

Enjoy the fall wherever you are and lean in to the transitions that are in your life. If you are feeling restless, know you need a change and are not sure where to go or where to start, I have programs and coaching that can guide you. On November 15 – 17, 2013, I am leading a women’s retreat for you to create direction and focus for the balance of 2013 and all of 2014.  See my events page for more details and my website for more programs on navigating transitions.


Off-Roading Your Way to Success

Most of us have either read the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum or seen the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz” from MGM first on the screen in 1939. It’s a favorite classic that I’ve watched over and over and more recently read the book.

Much has been written about the metaphor of The Yellow Brick Road and how it represents our life journey with all the twists and turns, fun and perils.

In the book, Dorothy and her friends were tasked with killing the Wicked Witch of the West. In order to get to her castle, they had to
leave the Yellow Brick Road and venture through a dangerous countryside.

There’s a huge desire now of many of us to find and follow our life path and live our purpose. Part of this comes from a longing to have   more meaning to our lives and be a contribution for a better society and world.

For me, it is a spiritual quest so I can learn to use my talents and experience to empower other people in their journeys. I’ve devoted my   career in the last ten years to coaching and mentoring people to have more control in their lives, activate their dreams and improve their results through focus and increased confidence.

Back to the Yellow Brick Road though. The road was the path to the answer for Dorothy – or so she thought. It seemed pretty obvious to follow the Yellow Brick Road and then reach the Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz to get her back home.

In her innocence, she did not know what she would encounter, she just knew she had to get back home and she had been told the Wizard would help her.

Our lives are like that. We set a goal and we start off on our journey. In real life, there are often twists and turns and it takes strength of character to stay on the path we chose.

The Yellow Brick Road May Not Be the Right Road for You

We focus so much on the importance of the Yellow Brick Road. In the story and as a metaphor, that we forget that Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Lion couldn’t reach the Witches’ castle from the Yellow Brick Road. They had to go cross-country, off-road and through scary forests to get there.

Ultimately they did get rid of the Wicked Witch of the West and made their way back to Oz to see the Wizard.

What I want to emphasize though, is that you may have events in your life that you feel are taking you off your Yellow Brick Road. Family needs, other opportunities, health issues or the need to make money are all valid reasons we get off our own Yellow Brick Road.

Sometimes the side journey becomes the journey and we pave a new Yellow Brick Road.

You have a great window of time at the beginning of 2013 to reflect on your own journey and the path you are on.

Are you on the Yellow Brick Road you originally set out on? Have you veered in your path on another direction?

All of these are fine because everything we do contributes to our life experiences and learning. You are at the right time and place for your life path and journey.

And if it is time to make some course corrections, you can use this time to decide what’s next for you.

Here are two questions to ask yourself in the coming week:

What do you want to focus on in 2013?

Where do you want to make a difference?

The Yellow Brick Road you’ve been on may or may not be the one that lines up with your life path. Be ready to go off-road and see what adventures life brings.

Happy New Year!

Kathy Garland specializes in business growth and leadership development. She guides her clients to turn challenges into opportunities that result in personal and professional growth. She speaks frequently on leadership and motivational topics.


Slogging Through Transition and Change

This past year was one of profound change for me. The biggest impact was the loss of my father. If you’ve lost a parent or other loved one, you know what I am talking about. All through his illness, I kept wondering if he would get better as he had so many times before. The doctor told us there was no cure for his condition and it would gradually get worse. It was difficult to talk about and we kept hoping the doctor would be wrong.

It seemed like we were slogging through life, relishing the good times and fearing the times he would be back in the hospital and might not come home. Eventually, his disease got worse and he died. Toward the end, when it was evident his health was not improving, we began to have the conversations about death and dying and what it would be like without Dad. I had many treasured one-on-one conversations with my father about life, death and what happens when we die. Six months later we still miss Dad and life is different without his presence, his wisdom and his gentlemanly manners.

No doubt you’ve been through periods of change and transition as well. Moving for a job or for family reasons, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce or even happy transitions like having a baby or a promotion at work can rock your world.

When I look back over the changes in my life including living in over 20 residences (my husband was in the Air Force,) many jobs, raising a family, living in six states and one foreign country to name a few transitions, I realize that part of going through change has built resilience and optimism about the future in me.

There are two important things to do during change and transition to help you build resilience and a sense of optimism and help you minimize the stress that can accompany transistion:

1. Acknowledge that you will experience all types of feelings. Talk about them with people you trust. If it is uncomfortable to talk about them publicly, then write them down in a journal so you can process them as they occur.

2.  Find some quiet time every day to reflect, recharge and reconnect with your inner guidance, whether that is through prayer, meditation, journaling or simply taking a nap.

Whether you welcome the change or it is a transition that you have no choice about, you will increase your ability to stay composed and focused during difficult times in your life with these practices.


Live Your Values, Love Your Life

As a human being, you most likely want to be happy and love life. Loving your life is a high state from which you can create more opportunities, be healthier and have a greater sense of connection to all those around you. In the natural cycle of life, you will also have times where you are discouraged or unhappy. However, by identifying and focusing on what you value, you can love your life all the time, no matter what the circumstances and bounce back more quickly from the discouraging times.

I’m going to present a shift from a traditional view of values such as honesty, integrity and responsibility to a view of values that can dramatically increase your happiness and your attitude to loving your life.

Take a few minutes to define what you value. These can be behaviors like self-expression or getting things done or attributes like being fair or treating people with respect.

For example, how you treat anybody is how you treat everybody. You can increase your happiness in life by aligning how you think about people with how you treat people (remember you are ‘people’ too) whether it is your employees or co-workers, friends or clients or employees at the grocery store.

To love your life even more, ask yourself, “What do I value?”

This may seem obvious or it may seem like a difficult question to answer, so let’s explore this.

One of the aspects of loving your life is to live congruently with what you value. This type of value often reflects behaviors or attitudes you want to model or move toward. In order to learn what you value, notice what you feel drawn toward over the next week or two. For example, if you’ve always wanted to take art or writing lessons, you probably value creativity and self-expression.

If you volunteer frequently, you probably value contribution, sharing or social connections or all three.

Focus on what is important to you. Make a list of those things you value, like creating value at work for your business or employer, spending time with family and being healthy. Once you start to identify what is important to you and what you value, you will want to have more of those people and activities in your life.

If your inner voice has been nudging you to take writing classes for example, ask yourself why. Is it because you want an outlet to express your creativity or a forum to write your opinions? Either way, by doing more of what you value, you will love your life more.

“Live your values, love your life,” means that you make choices that are in alignment with what you value. When you live in alignment with your personal truth and mindfully incorporate what you value into your life, you give your best in every situation. You leave nothing on the table.

Loving your life comes from aligning your actions with your values, dreams and beliefs. Going against your values, dreams and beliefs causes stress and dissatisfaction. When you focus on what is important to you, you will be more successful, attract more opportunities, be healthier and love your life.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


Getting Your Ideas Heard, Part 1

Last week I promised you some ideas about communicating your ideas effectively.  Over the years, I have presented great ideas poorly and bad ideas enthusiastically. I have slipped brilliant ideas into a conversation so that someone else picked it up and brought it forward (not a habit you want to keep) and other times simple, yet ingenious ideas get implemented immediately.

What’s the secret of getting your ideas across effectively? As in most success habits, there is a formula. And like making a wonderful cake, there are different recipes for success, the points shared in this blog over the next few weeks happen to be ones that have been effective for me.

The point this week is to make sure you schedule or carve out time to present a new idea. Don’t just casually bring up a great idea out of context or it may get lost, someone else may grab it, people won’t understand the significance.

One of the things Steve Jobs does well is present his ideas on a big stage with all the media and the world watching. He makes sure all the stakeholders are present and are ready and excited to hear about his idea.

This YouTube video is a clip of Steve Jobs presentation announcing the original iPhone. Watch how he sets up the grand idea (this is the full version you can watch the first three or four minutes to get the idea.)


This week’s main point is to make sure you have an audience for your idea and ask for or schedule time to present it.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


What’s your idea quotient?

Are you confidently contributing your ideas?

How often do you contribute an idea for something that could make work life better? Strong leaders make it their business to communicate ideas.

Occasionally a leader will tell me that they when they share ideas, their bosses don’t listen so eventually they quit making suggestions.

This is disheartening. Organizations must move forward with new ideas and new thinking. However, it always takes longer than we want for our ideas to be accepted.

Let’s consider the concept of an idea quotient. Your idea quotient is your score on how many ideas you contribute. A desirable idea quotient is different depending on what field you are in. I worked in a branding and marketing firm for years and we were awarded work based on our ideas, so ideas are rewarded and encouraged.

Some types of work, for example, selling financial services or providing health care, are bound by rules and by the nature of the organizations, it takes longer for ideas to become accepted and work their way through the system. If you doubt that, think about the health care debate that’s gone on for years. People put out new ideas and they get knocked down.

I haven’t created any mathematical models for this (maybe if I had a team of math students…) so this is my theory based on observation and personal experience.

You want your idea quotient high enough so people notice you as a creative and innovative person, but not so high that there are too many ideas to consider and those ideas become a distraction.

One of my strengths is generating ideas. Lots of ideas. It can be a distraction if left unchecked. I have to know when enough ideas are enough and we have what we need to go forward.

When your idea quotient is high, you want to be aware of how you share your ideas and when. In my next post, I will share with you ideas about how to communicate ideas effectively.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


Happy Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, we always turn our attention to our hearts and love. Your heart can guide you in ways you would never imagine. Listening to what is in your heart can help you make big leaps in your life and your business.

Trouble is, most people listen to what their heads tell them to do. We’ve learned that for success, it’s best to follow our head.

Yet, the quiet inner voice of our heart can guide us to make better decisions. In the long run, usually we are happier when we listen to and consider what our heart is calling us to do. However, we are so used to listening to our heads and the chatter it creates, that it covers up the powerful voice of our hearts.

Before you think of me as being soft and not logical, the heart actually has its own neurological network, in other words its own brain that creates two-way communication with the brain in your head.

The point is, by listening to your heart’s guidance, you will make stronger connections with people in your network because you’ll not only be a better listener and communicator, you will increase your authenticity and genuine being that connects with people.

You’ll make better decisions if you can listen to your heart’s guidance and then using your hard-wired brain in your head to supply the facts, the decisions, the structure for what’s next.

Here are a few ways I’ve discovered I can distinguish between my head and my heart’s guidance.

When you speak in your head-mode, you are:

– logical

– straightforward

– rational

– factual

– point of view

– judging

– analytical

– and can be fearful

When you are you are speaking from your heart, you are:

– certain

– confident

– warm

– happy

– compassionate

– passionate

– accepting

– able to see a picture of what can be


When you can speak to people with a heart-centered focus, you can hear them much better and they “get” you. Marketing becomes a time of passion and confidence for you.

Go ahead, open up this week and share your passions with someone new, focus on accepting not only yourself, but also those around you.

You’ll be glad you did.




Do people remember you?

One of the most important assets you have when you market yourself and your services is your reputation and your personal brand.

What do you do to stand out? Are you consistent? That’s an important hallmark in building your personal brand.

Let’s talk about the benefits of having a strong personal brand. When people know you for a specific result, outcome, way of being or their relationship with you, you are more memorable.

Being more memorable gives you an advantage over the many others who are in your same category.

Each person has something unique about who they are or their capabilities. Do you know what is unique about you?

The power in your personal brand is to understand what is different and unique about you that matters to your clients. If you are an expert on food or ancient Greece or social media, it only matters if your desired customers want that or if they have the same interests and passions.

This week, observe people you interact with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. As you observe them, ask yourself these questions:

– What makes them memorable?
– Is it what they do?
– Is it how they do what they do?
– Is it their personality?
– Is it their client list?

If you find yourself realizing that some people are easily recalled in your memory, ask yourself why that is. What is it about this person that doesn’t stand out.

Be open-minded to what they do to be more memorable or what they don’t do. Find some benchmarks and role models and determine what you can do to be more memorable.

The people who are memorable to me for my business are ones who understand my business opportunities and offer ideas and solutions. They go out of their way to connect me to people and resources that could help.

I’d love for you to join my Market You Mondays community on Facebook and add your comments and ask questions.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


A personal story

On October 4, 2010, Private Cody Board from McKinney, Texas was killed in action in Afghanistan. I do not know Cody or his family. His story caught my attention at a high school football game. His father and brother were there in his honor, only a few days after he died because his high school alma mater dedicated the game to him.

The story doesn’t stop there though. The media reported that a radical group from Kansas, who hates soldiers, was planning to protest at his funeral. They have a record of protesting at soldiers’ funerals and travel wherever they can to disrupt memorial services. On Facebook, a counter-protest was organized to show support for the family and the deceased soldier.

My heart told me I needed to be there, not from a counter-protest reason, but because if it were my son or daughter that had died, I would want privacy to grieve and say good-bye without experiencing anger and protest. Because it spread so quickly through Facebook, on Saturday morning, a large crowd turned out for support and protection for the family. McKinney residents, off-duty police, citizen patrols, Patriot Guards (Harley riders who attend veteran’s funerals for support and protection) and even a small group of men dressed in red, white and blue Colonial military uniforms surrounded the church.

Because of the pro-active thinking of one man who put up a page on Facebook, we surrounded the church with people, signs of support, flags and love for the family. I held up ok until the funeral procession left the church. As we watched the cars head out of the church, surrounded by police on motorcycles and the Patriot Guards, I realized the finality of Private Board’s life and the heartbreak of his family. I was comforted to see that people in the funeral procession were grateful we were there and appreciated our support.

I was only one in a crowd that day, however, together we all made a difference. The crowd is a powerful force. Our intention and show of support created a special experience for us as well as the family.

Never underestimate your power as an individual.

By the way, no signs of protestors were seen. I like to think that when they saw that they couldn’t get close to the church because of all of us and the police, that they just went away.

Photos below: People lining the streets, Patriot Riders supporting the family, a group of men dressed up as Colonial soldiers guard the front of the church, and the McKinney mounted police with many other police showed up to protect the family.


McKinney Supporters         Patriot riders show up for the family      

Colonial soldiers on honor guard           McKinney Mounted Police


Kathy Garland specializes in turning business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She hosts a radio show, “The Leader in You” and speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.