86. How to (Re)Find Yourself | with Johnny Elsasser

Jonathan Elsasser’s story truly embodies the principles of Strategic Life Planning that we’ve been covering since episode 79, and I wanted to share it with all of you to paint a picture of what it looks like for someone to identify a specific goal they want to achieve, pivot, create a plan of action, and then execute at the highest level.

Coming home after serving as a special operations U.S. Army Ranger through four combat tours was a challenge. He had to find a new identity that felt aligned, create new relationships, and step into a whole new life. But being part of the Army comes with a certain set of expectations, formal and informal, and it’s a hard space for people to be vulnerable.

So, as part of his transition into a new life, Johnny had to find communities of men who felt safe being vulnerable. But it wasn’t easy, so he instead decided to create one. Now, Johnny is the host of The Art of Masculinity, a podcast in which he helps men step out of their hard shells and create a life that balances the masculine (strength, toughness) and the feminine (fluidity, softness).

How to (Re)Find Yourself

  • When you feel like you are serving a purpose in one area of your life and then that area changes, it’s easy to feel lost or directionless. And once you start to lose that sense of purpose, your sense of identity follows.
  • If you find yourself in this position, Johnny offers a great starting point: go inward and figure out what made you happy. Not what MAKES you happy now but what MADE you happy, and not during your time in the military (or your time raising a child, in a long-term career, or wherever you formed that identity you’re holding on to). Before that.
  • In your formative years, what is it that made you happy? How can you find that person again? Connect back to self versus connecting to a role you played in life. “You have to kill the old version of you.”
  • For Johnny, that first meant getting back into sports. “I started to put myself back in things that made me, internally, just feel successful every day, and it made me feel fulfilled.” That feeling of fulfillment is something we can build off of to create something new. 
  • “You have to feel the feelings of what it is going to be like when you are the person you want to be doing the things you want to be doing. You have to see it and feel it.” Just visualization isn’t going to get you there.
  • It’s natural for us to switch roles in life quite a few times. People talk about the mid-life crisis or even a quarter-life crisis, but I feel like I’m having a crisis every other year! Not only is it okay for you to regularly come back and check-in with yourself but you’ll live a more fulfilling life if you make a habit of it.

Now, let’s turn this into a conversation! 

Text message Kareen at 917-540-5782 to get your direct questions regarding the content of the podcast answered. 

Take a screenshot of your phone while you’re listening, share it on Insta with your biggest takeaway, and tag me: @kareenzwalsh or @yourbadassjourneypodcast. And if you have any questions about what we discuss in this episode or a problem you’re currently experiencing, I want you to slide into those DMs or send an email to [email protected] so that I can answer it on a future episode.


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