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Manson's Avoidance Law

What parts of your story no longer serve a purpose?

The word 'engineer' has been associated with me for eight years. It's a label that I have earned through training and education, and, as someone who likes creating things and solving problems, welcomed.

Do you identify with a label?

Athlete, mother, father, painter, godparent.

Labels are hard to let go of. And there are a lot of labels out there, as I've written about. Many labels are self-inflicted, too.

I have tended to shy away from labels, thinking of myself as someone who can do it all. I even used to use the word 'generalist' on my website, thinking a generalist can do everything, not realizing that generalist itself is a label!

But as I vibrate at a higher level, there are things that don't resonate like they used to.

Labels form an identity. Sometimes stretching outside that identity is uncomfortable, exhausting, or both. Afterwards, releasing outdated labels to take on new roles is freeing. But it's not easy.

Mark Manson ignited this line of thought with his self-named "Manson's Law:" the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid doing it.

"That means," Mark Manson writes, "that the more something threatens to change how you view yourself, the more you will procrastinate ever getting around to doing it."

For example, is there a jersey or t-shirt with a team logo that you refuse to get rid of? Maybe it has some holes or wear and tear, but the memory associated with it keeps that identity alive. The shirt is a time machine of sorts. It might be time to let it go.

"The crazy thing about Manson’s Law is that it can apply to both good and bad things in one’s life. Making a million dollars can threaten your identity just as much as losing all your money."

Stepping away from a role is bad.

Stepping towards what I want is good.

Neither makes it any easier.

In the last few years, I've gone from "not a runner" to "a runner," from "not a writer" to "a casual writer," from not a Twitter person to active on Twitter. But picking up new skills feels easier than letting identities go.

I will always rely on my engineering problem-solving background. I'll always be organized, practical, and thorough. But making the decision to step away from technical roles allowed me to explore communication, financial, and marketing skills that have been nascent.

Manson's Law will rear its ugly head, but what identities no longer serve their purpose?


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