The Power of Identity

Whoever you think you are or aren't, you're right.

Maybe you've heard this quote from the father of the modern automobile...

"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

We'd like to tweak that iconic quote just a bit...

"Whoever you think you are or aren't you're right." 

Your identity can either hold you back or propel you towards the amazing life you're meant to live.

We tell ourselves stories on repeat and sadly, we're often our own worst critics. Those stories become beliefs about the world and about ourselves.

"I'm a procrastinator"

"I'm a binge-eater"

"I never stick to anything"

Contrast that with the following...

"I get things done on time"

"I'm a well-balanced eater"

"I stick with things I start"

Identity is the single most powerful motivator of behavior.

If you want to truly change your life, you'll switch from saying, "I want something" to "I want to become the type of person who has that thing".

For example, "I want to have 6-pack abs" changes to "I want to become the type of person who has 6-pack abs 365 days a year"

When you make this shift, you can start asking "What would a fit person do in this situation?" and that single question can transform you and your identity as you choose to behave like a fit person time and time again.

Over time, you'll be able to say and actually believe the words, "I am a fit person". 

Contrast that with focusing solely on the outcome to get a 6-pack.

You may engage in an extreme diet or take scary borderline illegal supplements or starve yourself. What does it matter if the point is to get a 6-pack?

Meanwhile, the person who has a 6-pack 365 days a year has taken a sustainable approach and if you want to be like them, you will have to as well.

When you take pride in your identity, you'll move mountains to maintain it.

You've likely adopted identities and beliefs that don't serve you so you'll need to take an honest inventory of yourself and identify them.

To become the best version of yourself, you're going to need an identity upgrade.

In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear states, "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become."

This is a gradual process. You need to first choose who you want to become, then you need to prove it to yourself by taking the actions that person would take. 

Perfectionists beware. The quickest path to failure is to think because you misstepped, you've failed.

Fit people enjoy dessert...more often than you'd think.

Runners miss their runs sometimes. 

It doesn't erase their identity.

In practical application, here are 5 steps to become the best version of yourself through creating identity-based habits.

1. Identify the outcome you want.

2. Identify the type of person you'll need to become to get it.

3. When confronted with a decision, ask yourself what that person would do.

4. Upgrade your beliefs by repeatedly telling yourself you are that person.

5. Prove it to yourself by making the right choice the majority of the time.

Remember, habits aren't about getting something, they're about becoming someone and that someone is the best version of yourself.

Many of these ideas come from James Clear's excellent book, Atomic Habits. It's a book we highly recommend!