Hello, My Name is________: Does Your Name Affect Your Life?

Anna one of grace What's In a Name?

Have you ever fantasized about having a different name? Would your life be different with a different name? Do you think your name has helped you or held you back in life? Have you ever thought of legally changing your name or going by a nickname or middle name? I haven't. Does that make me unimaginative or aptly named?

With a name like Anna you don't have to be very creative to think of a nickname for me. I've heard Anna Banana more times than you can imagine, but also Anne, Annie, Annie Bannie (my mom's preference) and Annabelle Lee (from Edgar Allan Poe's Poem).

The name Anna means "One of Grace." And let me tell you graceful is not a term I would use to describe myself. The name Anna has origins from Bible times. According to BehindtheName.com there have been several queens, a saint, a prophetess, a First Lady, a couple of mythological characters, a handful of hurricanes and tropical storms, and two Oscar winners named Anna. This name is used by English, Italian, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Finnish, Estonian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Catalan, Provençal, Breton, Biblical, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek.

And yet, the name Anna is not necessarily one that sounds like a CEO. I'm not saying that someone named Anna couldn't be a CEO. In fact, there is at least one: Anna Chagnon, CEO of Bitstream Inc. But the name Anna, while widely used across the world for years upon years, does not conjure of images of a high power executive woman, at least not to me. Notice that I did not use the phrase "in charge" because I am definitely an "in charge" kind of person.

Articles of Studies Involving Names and Initials

The point is if you are given a list of names or a stack of identical resumes with different names you will infer things about the person based solely on his or her name. The research indicates that even in school a child's name can help him or her make better grades. The article Does Your Name Spell Success from www.jobs.aol.com highlights several interesting studies involving names, initials and perceptions. Based on several of these studies, my name is a good one for making top grades.

Another article, Name Discrimination! How It Affects Your Job and Career Choices, Life Status, Overall Status from www.thedigeratilife.com provides the analysis of several studies on the impact of a person's name and interview and job opportunities, career choices, housing options, etc. I was surprised to see that based on one study spotlighted in this article Anna is the second most feminine name.

Here is a chart from one study:

Positive Names

People Thought They Were…




Abigail, Eleanor, Lisa, Meredith and Rebecca

Clifford, David, Edward, John, Samuel, Ned and Tim



Alexander, Dwight and Lance


Ada, Ingrid, Marie and Margaret

Jake, Manuel, Ron and Todd

Entrepreneurial and Professional

Lorraine and Sylvia

Gregory and Ted





Audrey, Paige and Victoria

Lucius, Edmond and Claude





Indira, Calista and Grace

Nigel, Alistair, Vaughn








Bernadette, Christy, Elaine, Gwen, Joy, Kathy, Kim, Patricia, Nancy and Wendy

Allen, Cole, Danny, Ed, Gary, Jim, Russ and Rob

Accountants (Nerdy)

Minerva and Ingrid

Myron and Reynold




Wealthy Lawyers



Negative Names

People Thought They Were…










A Jerk







Joyce and Myrna


Rhea and Maud

Old and Overweight



Candy, Kiki and Vanna

Source: CareerBuilder.com and Behind the Name

Tips for Choosing a Name

Based on the articles, studies, suggestions and lists of names I have read on this topic this week, here are my tips for choosing a name. Take it with a grain of salt, or not:

  1. Choose a real, established name (not Moon Unit, KFC#8, iPhone App, etc.);
  2. Choose a name that is in the top 1000 or so of the lists of names, but not in the top 5o if you can avoid it;
  3. Choose a name that clearly tells the child's gender;
  4. Choose a name that starts with A or B;
  5. If it's a girl and you want her to excel in math and the sciences, don't choose too girlie of a name;
  6. Choose a name that is neither difficult to pronounce nor spell (for the sake of your child and all those who have to call it out and/or spell it);
  7. Choose a name you like; even when you are yelling it at the top of your lungs;
  8. And don't try to be cute with your child's name. He or she has to live with it the rest of his or her life (if your last name is Wood, don't name your daughter Holly and if your last name is Jordan, don't name your son Michael).

Name Consultations

Lastly, if you feel that your name needs some fine tuning or that you were ill named, you may wish to consult with a Nameologist. A Nameologist can help you figure out the best name, spelling and nickname for you based on your goals, your career, and your areas of struggle. My understanding of Nameology is that it's kind of like astrology, but all analysis is based upon your name. One such Nameologist offers name attunement and other name adjustments; you can read more about it at www.namestructures.com.

Another website with great information about names is http://www.behindthename.com. Behind the name provides the etymology and history of first names, plus other information about a name.

The Scoop

I felt that choosing our children's names was a difficult and weighty task and I didn't even use all of these resources. I did run Google searches of their first names and our last name, write out every variation possible and research the meanings of the names. DH & I feel that we made good choices, but the truth of the matter is that it's not just a person's name that determines which colleges he or she gets accepted or which career paths are followed or whether one gets a promotion. After all, our President's name does not follow many, if any, of the rules set out on most baby naming websites. Over and out…


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