Want To Make Changes? Then Change Your Identity
I’m not talking about going Jason Bourne, changing your name, and getting a second passport. I’m talking about changing the beliefs you have about yourself. Saying you’re going to make changes, writing out new year’s resolutions and goal setting is all likely to fail in making significant long lasting changes if we don’t change our core beliefs about ourselves.
Making significant changes in life doesn’t come down to a single choice, it comes down to many small choices that we make over and over again. It comes down to changing habits and behavior.
Usually we tend to focus on making changes to our habits and behavior before we change our identity which is no easy task. We tell ourselves that once we workout x times a week and get in good shape then I can identify as being the type of person that works out and is in good shape. The problem is that if we don’t believe we are the type of person who works out to begin with then we have an easy time giving up because of that identity. I am suggesting that we change our identity before we change our habits.
How do we do that? By telling ourselves over and over again that we are the type of person that... (whatever identity change it is that you want to make).
For example, say you want to be an early riser. You set your alarm for 5:00 am the night before. As you go to bed you tell yourself, “I am the type of person that wakes up early everyday.” When the alarm goes off in the morning you tell yourself again, “I am the type of person who wakes up early.” If you are prone to hitting the snooze button then reinforce the opposite of that into your identity — “I am the type of person who gets up right away without hitting the snooze button.” Pound whatever identity changes you wish to make into your head whenever you can. Reinforce this belief until it's true.
But merely telling ourselves is not enough -- we need to tell others. We need to hold ourselves accountable. It’s easy to slip into old habits if we are the only ones that know we are slipping. It’s easy to tell ourselves, “I am the type of person that does this,” but then go and do the opposite because there’s no immediate consequences and no one else notices. But if we tell others about our identity we will do whatever we need to do to reenforce that. No one want’s to look like a fraud. That's enough for us to make the lasting changes that become the beliefs that form our new identity.
Make a list of changes you want to make this year but change the format to begin with, “I am the type of person who…”
I am the type of person that is always in incredible shape. I always eat well and work out three times a week no matter what.
I am the type of person who is good with money. I make the right decisions with my finances.
I am the type of person who takes action. If something needs to be done I do it.
I am the type of person that accomplishes the goals they set out.
Make this list as long as you want. Really think about the type of person you want to become. What is the highest vision you have of yourself? What type of person is that? What are their daily habits? What makes them that person?
Once you have your list, don’t try to change too many habits or aspects about yourself at once. Stick to one or two aspects at a time until they really become ingrained into your self identity. Remember to hold yourself accountable. Find ways to let others know about the changes you are making. Have fun with it. Make a list of at least three things you want to change in the coming month. I’m going to go do this myself. Whatever I write on here, I write for myself as much as I do for you. Now go get on with it!