Have you ever make a change in life, but you couldn´t stick to it? Many people decide they want to change their lives, they take action, but after a week or two, they end up exactly where they were before.
Why is that? Is it because they wouldn´t want to lose weight, or get a promotion? I don´t think so. Everyone wants to change to make a positive change in life.
The problem is their strategy. Almost all people start with things like motivation, planning or goal setting. I admit, these things are important when you want to create a lasting change, but they are definitely not the most important.
In this article, you´re gonna find out:
There are many people who make a goal, work for it a little while, but after their first motivation disappears, they stop. This is one of the biggest problems in today´s society. We are quitters.
From what I see, the biggest reason why people can´t stick to their goals is this:
You are so focused on changing results and not on changing yourself first.
Let me explain what I mean by that:
When all you are focused on is your end result and you think that motivation and willpower get you there, you´re wrong. Motivation and willpower fade away. They are not reliable and they are not gonna be here with you all the time. No matter how many motivational videos you watch.
To make the change that lasts, you need something more. Something deeper, what drives you even when you don´t feel like it.
That´s why the most important part of creating a lasting change is your identity.
When you change yourself, every other change you want to implement into your life is gonna be easy. This is also the reason why creating a new identity is what you have to focus on first.
Recently I was watching a Ted Talk of a lawyer, named Bryan Stevenson, where he was talking about the power of identity.
He told the story of his chat with his grandmother when he was 9 years old.
His grandma said to him:
“Steven, I´ve been watching you and I want to tell you, you´re special. You can achieve anything you want in life. But, I want you to promise me 3 things today.” … He replied, yes of course, grandma.
After a few years, when he was 15 years old, he went out with his brother and sister, who offered him a beer. He said, no, I don´t feel good about it, I don´t want to.
His siblings keep strongly persuading him, but he still didn´t get this beer, even when he found out that the same “special” talk Bryan had with his grandma, all of his siblings had. 😀
All the people at this conference starts to laugh, and then Bryan said… “I have to confess to you, I am now 52 years old, but I never tried alcohol in my whole life.”
You may ask, why am I telling you this story?
I am sure, the talk of Bryan Stevenson and his grandma motivated him (for a few minutes), I am sure he was happy about it (for a few days). But, this talk was so powerful because of one thing – it shaped his identity (for the rest of his life).
And that´s the only thing, you need to do when you decide on any positive change you want. Whether it is to develop a new habit, stop procrastinating or improving communication with your partner.
Your identity represents your perception of yourself. It shapes your all beliefs and actions. That´s why changing your identity also means changing your whole life.
In James Clear´s book Atomic Habits there was a great example that demonstrates how powerful changing your identity is.
Imagine 2 men. Both of them were smokers and both of them decide they want to quit smoking.
When the first one is offered a cigarette, he replies… No, thanks, I am trying to quit. On the other hand, when the second one is offered the cigarette, his reply is this… No, thanks, I am not a smoker.
Which statement do you think is more powerful? Who really decided to quit? The first one, or the second one?
Obviously, the first person hasn´t truly decided to quit. His reply “I am trying to quit” represents that he is still a smoker who is trying to be something else. not gonna act in accordance with his identity.
Although the second person clearly shifts his identity from smoker to non-smoker. For this person, smoking was part of his former life, not his current one. He no longer identifies himself as a some, who smokes.
Desire to act in accordance with who you are is the strongest force that drives you to take action.
That explains why without changing your identity you can start the change, but you most likely couldn´t get it through the end. You can motivate yourself to take action for a while, but you can´t force yourself to take action that is not in accordance with your identity.
It´s like being left-handed and force yourself to eat and write with your right hand. You can do it, but you´re struggling, you’re not happy about it and you are definitely not very satisfied with it. Change that is made in those circumstances is doomed to fail from the beginning.
But, when you start shifting your beliefs and your identity, it becomes natural to you. You won´t have to force yourself to take action.
All you need to do is to shift your identity from the person who says… “I should go for a run”, into a person who says… “I am a healthy person, I must take care of my health and running is something what I do”.
All you need to do is to change your identity from… “I am someone who should do the work“, into…“I am a person who is known for hard work.”
Changing your identity is the stepping stone into:
Here are 4 steps for changing your identity.
Everything you do in your life comes from your beliefs.
When you believe you´re a smoker, you´re gonna have this cigarette. If you believe you live unhealthily, you´re gonna eat junk food all the time. It becomes a part of who you are and as you already know, people
want need to act in accordance with their beliefs about themselves.
The first thing to do is to start thinking about yourself differently. Start shifting your core beliefs. Coming from a place, I can´t do that, to a place, It´s not as hard as I thought.
Once you start to believe, you don´t have to stick with your old behaviors, you immediately proceed to step 2.
Your beliefs affect your actions the most. When I believe, I fail when I decide to start a business, I choose to rather avoid starting it at all. But, when I´d have 100% certainty that my business is gonna thrive, I´d definitely take action.
So, step 2 is taking action that is in accordance with your new beliefs.
I know, it is hard, when you used to come home and sit down on the couch for a few hours until you went to sleep. I understand you won´t from one day to another run 20 miles a day. And you shouldn´t. You should take a little, micro-actions.
To use working out examples, you shouldn´t start by running these 20 miles on day 1. You can simply put on your clothes, go out and walk around the block. That´s enough.
Read also: How To Take Action In Life: 12 Proven Tips
For every new behavior you want to repeatedly do, you need to develop a habit.
When you start a new behavior, you need to use a lot of your willpower, discipline, and motivation at the beginning. But, since you develop a habit, you do this behavior automatically.
For example, if you want to read a book every morning after you wake up, at the beginning you are not used to it, you need to use your willpower to overcome the voices that say to you… Just sleep a little longer, you´re gonna read later.
After you develop a habit of reading, you don´t even think of it, you just wake up, do your morning routine and then immediately grab a book and start to read. With no willpower and no extra motivation needed.
To understand how exactly you should build a new habit from scratch, read my article: How To Develop A Habit: Complete Step-By-Step Guide
“Find a workout buddy”. This is one of the first things almost every personal trainer tells you when you start to lose weight. The reason behind it is simple – accountability.
The last tip for shaping your identity is that you should tell it to someone else. This person is gonna keep you accountable. Thanks to that, next time when you start to think about skipping a workout or procrastinating, he is gonna tell you, to stop.
He is gonna remind you that you are no longer couch potato, but you are a person who works hard and not skips workouts. He is gonna remind you your new identity.
So, simply tell your partner something like this:
Since today, I am gonna read at least 15 minutes every morning. That´s it.
One thing we hate the most is public humiliation. We hate when others laugh at us, especially when we don´t do what we say.
Use it to your advantage. Share with someone your new identity, your plan and act in accordance with that.
Doing what you say you do is especially important for your confidence. Check it out how it influences your whole life: How To Become More Confident Using One Secret Rule
If you want to develop a new habit more easily, you need to change your identity first. When you decide to lose weight, it´s gonna be much easier, and it´s gonna last longer when you change your identity.
Desire to act in accordance with who you are in the strongest trigger that forces you to take action. That´s why your identity, or in other words perception you have about yourself is absolutely crucial for changing any action in your life.
So, follow these 4 steps, shape your identity and never ever again give up on your dreams.
Comment below – What is the identity you´re gonna create for yourself?
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