If you are changing your habits, then you are changing your identity, or you will change your identity, over time.
This is something that James Clear talks about in his book Atomic Habits and something that I talk about pretty much in every video I do on social media. The identity that you have right now is the base of all of your current habits.
So whoever you believe you are right now, this belief is what produces and reinforces your current habits.
So if you believe that you are a Crossfitter, for example, then your habits probably represent those of others that do CrossFit. You love going to the daily WOD at your local box with all of your mates, you buy the same shoes, you buy the same clothes and you do the same things on a day to day basis, because this is your identity.
If you’re looking to change your habits in a certain way, then you’re going to need to be prepared for a new identity, and it depends which way round you want this to go. James talks about changing your identity first and then letting your habits follow suit.
For example if you want to be someone who loses weight and keeps it off, then it’s about adopting the identity of someone who has already lost that weight, or is already in the position that you want to be in – maybe someone who appears to be ‘naturally slim’.
If you’re looking to lose weight, then think about your current identity, your current habits. How does someone who has already lost the weight and keeps it off, or a ‘naturally slim person’, act differently from how you do now. What are the habits they have that are different to your habits? If you embody the identity of this slim person that you’re wanting to become, this person who has lost the weight and kept it off. Then the habits that they do on a day to day basis are the ones that you’re going to want to be adopting.
Once you accept that this is your new identity, once you start to truly see yourself as successful then this becomes easier to do. The thing that you’ve got to think about with this is, are you ready for that? Are you ready to have this new identity? Are you ready to leave your old self behind? Are your friends and family ready for you to have this new identity? Are your loved ones and the people around you ready?
If you’re trying to change your habits and your behaviours, you will need to speak to your partner or parents or whoever you share your life with. You may start wanting to cook different meals, or to exercise at certain times. Suddenly you’re wanting to go out for a walk, rather than stay in and watch Netflix.
This is going to affect their normal life and their quality of life in a way. If you haven’t had a conversation with them beforehand and said ‘look, these are my goals’, this is what I want to achieve and these are the habits that I want to start working on. If you haven’t had that conversation with them before you start doing it, it could feel like a bit of a slap in the face for these people, they’re certainly going to be surprised.
Before you start this journey to adopt a new identity, you need to have a conversation with the people who are around you, and explain to them what your goals are. Explain to them who you’re trying to become, why that is so important to you and how they can help you. They will then, hopefully understand what you are trying to achieve and how you could work together with them to make this a reality. Importantly, your goal isn’t to change the people around you, it’s to change yourself, but you’re going to need the people around you to be supportive of these things.
If you’re not crystal clear on your why your goals are important to you, then they’re not going to be either. Make sure that you’re crystal clear on all of these things before you start making that change. So remember, your identity is where all of your behaviours, come from.
Your current behaviours are an accumulation of your current identity and who you believe you are as well as what you believe that you can achieve.
In order to change your long lasting behaviours, you need to start with this aspirational identity in your head, and work towards it. Who are you trying to become? Why does that matter?