How to Define Who You Are, Not By What You Do


How to Define Who You Are, Not By What You Do


Today, I have an important question for you. Who are you? Not what you do but who you are as a person, a woman, and a human being.

How often do you ask yourself this question?

In this week’s episode of Spark Your Life podcast, we dive into what it means to define who you are based on many layers, not just what you do for a living.

Before I moved to the U.S., I remember I would visit North America on business trips, and small talk was much more present than in Europe. It doesn’t really exist in Europe.

But here, people like small talk. And one of the first questions people will ask is what do you do? It’s a main identifier of who we are as people.

It’s likely a major cause of burnout here in the U.S., identifying with your job and overestimating the importance of work. But, if all you talk about is your work, you forget that work isn’t who you are. It’s only one layer.

So, let’s jump into a story to help drive this idea home.


My daughter Dasha is a very talented artist. Why does this matter?

I know nothing about art. Sometimes, I see her painting a big canvas, and it has a bunch of colors on it.

So, I tell her, “Hey, Dasha, what a lovely painting. Are you done?”

She always says, “Mom, I just started. I need to add so many more layers. This is just the foundation.”

As an artist, she knows that the more layers there are, the more sophisticated the picture will be. The more layers, the richer it will be. And that’s true about our lives.

The more we understand who we are and all the different hats we wear, the more colorful, rich, interesting, and meaningful our lives become.

Life also becomes easier to navigate because when one thing goes wrong, we know it’s only one part, not the whole thing. So, it’s not as big of a deal.

So, let’s come back to the original questions.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What makes you get out of bed every morning?
  • What do you show up for?
  • What are your unique qualities and abilities?
  • What scares, excites, and fascinates you?
  • What do you look forward to? Why?

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions. And, the next time someone asks what you do, maybe you can tell them and share more of who you are.


Let’s look at an example.

As mothers, especially working mothers, we constantly struggle with guilt when we work too much.

We tell ourselves we work too much and need to spend more time with our kids. Do you know what I think causes this guilt?

We know that being a mother is important. Everybody talks about how fulfilling it is, and of course, it is, or we wouldn’t be getting up every morning to do it.

Sometimes, we can forget this, but when we bring it back to the surface and uncover the values that drive every area of our lives, we realize there are common values between work and parenting.

No matter what you do, those values will drive your behavior.

The reasons you wake up every morning to take care of your children are the same drivers for being a responsible leader within a company.

Once you realize this, it becomes much easier to overcome that guilt because then you don’t have to explain to yourself why you are working instead of being with your family.

You’ll know why you’re doing what you’re doing and that all the parts of your life are important.

Knowing yourself and those values that drive behaviors and actions will help you make peace with yourself because you stop wasting precious energy feeling guilty.


It’s impossible to make peace with yourself unless you know your whole, holistic self.

You are more than family and work. You have hobbies, friends, social aspirations, and personal, health, and fitness goals.

All these things are important and an essential part of your life.

So, why don’t we treat them like that? Why do we try to prioritize some things as more important than others? Why do we guilt ourselves when we dedicate time to one part of our life and not another?

It’s all important.

If you remove any part of yourself from yourself, you stop being you.

To strive toward dreams and goals, you need to have energy. And the way to have energy is to make peace with yourself and stop focusing on who you are not.

You want to embrace who you already are, your unique abilities, and the qualities that make you you. Like your:

  • Humor
  • Optimism
  • Energy
  • Courage
  • Cautiousness
  • Social Intelligence
  • Friendliness
  • Kindness
  • Love

All of these things make up who you are. So, when you start recognizing them, you start using them and gain so much more power and energy. Nothing can stop you!

Do you ever come home tired from work?

Maybe you have zero energy to spend with your family, yet you feel obligated to because there are only three hours of the evening to spend with them.

You can’t be fully present, though, because you’re tired and exhausted. All you want to do is crawl into bed and relax, but you don’t let yourself do that.

You force yourself to be with family, but are you really with them? Do you feel satisfied once you go to bed?

You feel some guilt and maybe don’t sleep great, and then the cycle repeats.

But what if there was a different cycle? Let’s imagine it.

When you wake up in the morning, you know there is one important thing you want to get done at work, and you’re committed to seeing it through.

Once it’s done, you feel great and accomplished.

So, you come home, and maybe you’re physically tired, but mentally, you are recharged because you feel proud of yourself.

You bring that positive energy to everyone in the family.

When your kids want to play with you or watch a movie together, you’re fully there with them because you’ve built up that energy.

Then, you go to bed feeling even better about yourself. In the morning, you wake up feeling rested.

This is a completely different cycle.

All we’re doing here is learning to manage that flow of energy from one part of our lives to another. Once you master that, you can add it to other parts of your life because it’s more multifaceted than family and work.


Once you learn how to engage in meaningful, values-driven activities in one part of your life, you can apply it to the nine other parts.

From there, you become truly unstoppable. You take charge of your life.

Without forcing or doubting yourself, you start to think that this is the life we should all be living because it feels authentic and good.

It creates something good around us, learning who we are.

I encourage you to spend a few minutes today brainstorming and being honest with yourself to figure out all the many facets of who you are.

Don’t stop at business owner, career women, manager, mother, wife, or daughter.

Go deeper and wider and name at least 30 things that make you who you are. This is how you expand and enrich your life.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience with this exercise, send me a message on Instagram or email me.

Until next time,

Olena xx

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