When you introduce yourself to people there are usually two pieces of information that you start with. Your name and what you do. I didn’t realize how much strength and power the second one had on my mindset after 15 years as a sales and marketing executive.

I studied tourism and hospitality management and started working in hotels directly after I graduated university. Sales and marketing were always very interesting to me and I pursued a career in this area. From the age of 26, my title in hotels was “Director of Sales & Marketing”, and I worked in a multitude of amazing properties globally. I thoroughly enjoyed my career, the industry, and all of the opportunities that it afforded me.  

Fast forward and now I am 37 years old. I was attempting to “balance” being a mother of two, marriage, health, friendships, family, selfcare and my career. Filled with guilt and feeling as if I was failing at everything, I began to think of ways that I could still have a successful career and have more time for my family and myself. It was extremely difficult for me to imagine doing something different than sales, marketing, and public relations for hotels. The income and security were very important to me and our family and I did not want to go “backwards”. I had worked very hard throughout my life and did not want to give it all up. I was angry that I was stuck in this role, this career and this position.

One evening I was in a yoga class finding solace and calm in the movement and the instructor’s words. I was surprised by a strong memory of when I was in university and interviewing for internship positions in Waikiki, Hawaii. There were two Human Resource Directors and after getting to know me for around an hour, they suggested that I work with the Area Director of Sales and Marketing. I was excited and agreed to the opportunity. Still holding the yoga pose a strong and powerful thought appeared: “You are NOT a Director of Sales & Marketing, this is just what you have been doing for the past 15 years. You are Tia Graham.” This was a turning point in that I realized that I could do a lot of other things, my career did not define who I was.

Identity is the whole picture of who we believe we are—and who we tell ourselves and others that we are. Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. writes that “Few people choose their identities. Instead, they simply internalize the values of their parents or the dominant cultures (e.g., the pursuit of materialism, power, and appearance). Sadly, these values may not be aligned with one’s authentic self and create an unfulfilling life. In contrast, fulfilled people are able to live a life true to their values and pursue meaningful goals.” At any point in time we can slow down and take the time to reflect on our values and needs. These may change based on what is happening in our lives.

At this point in my life, I identify as a Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Inspirationist, and Founder of Arrive At Happy. What is your identity at this time and is it serving you? Answering this question will bring awareness and insight into your needs and when we find security in changing our identity, we can increase our personal happiness.

Tia Graham