Ask yourself: “What type of person do I want to become? And why?”
James Clear says in “Atomic Habits”:
”You have the power to change your beliefs about yourself. Your Identity is not set in stone. You have a choice in every moment. You can choose the identity you want to reinforce today with habits you choose today.Building better habits isn’t about littering your day with life hacks.It’s not about achieving external measures of success like earning more money, losing weight, or reducing stress.Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone.Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself.Quite literally, you become your habits .”
If you think about it, we look at what we do repeatedly to determine who we are.
- If you are someone that goes to the gym very often, you will become a fit person.
- If you meditate regularly you will become a mindful person.
- If you say the truth most of the time you are an honest person.
- And if you have often overcome your fear you are a courageous person.
We only believe that we are that kind of person because we have proof for it. Proof that has accumulated over months and years.
On a similar note Will Durant summarized Aristotle’s teachings with the famous quote:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
James adds to that:
“Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.It is a simple two-step process: Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins.”
Change Your Deepest Beliefs About Yourself
This is very much in line with the ideas from the self-image psychology classic “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz.
The biggest idea is that our self-image, the type of person we believe we are, determines our potential and our behavior.
This can happen on a conscious or subconscious level.
Maltz advises changing your self-image if you want to unlock your full potential.
In the same way, you need to change your belief about who you think you are to be able to behave the way you want to.
So what if we sat down for ten minutes to get clear on who we want to become and then make sure to live up to that with the necessary behavior?
This is an inside out approach. It follows the line:
Be -> Do -> Have
What type of person would you have to become to be able to do and have what you want?
- Do you want to lose weight and get in shape?
Become someone who does not miss a workout or who moves frequently.
- Do you want to publish your own book?
Become someone who produces content every day.
- Do you want to have a big social circle?
Become someone who talks to every stranger you’re curious about.
- Do you want to be more present and focused?
Become someone that does a body scan every day.
As you can see there are many ways to go about this.
But it goes even deeper. It's not only about everyday habits that shape your identity, but it’s also about your desired personality traits.
How do I want to behave as a person? What traits do I want to embody?
Then, ask yourself how you needed to act every day to live in line with those values.
How do I want to act in every situation?
This is what Brandon Burchard calls “Setting the Intention” before every now situation throughout your days.
Two of my core values are “Optimism” and “Groundedness”. For me that means that I want to behave in a way that is encouraging, upbeat, spreading joy.
But at the same time also focusing on being present and fully listening to other people.
I hold myself accountable to live like that every day. Soon I have accumulated a lot of evidence that I am an encouraging person, optimistic and fully present person.
Whether it is for daily habits or for personality traits, you are casting votes for the type of person you want to become.
You are proving your new identity and self-image to yourself with daily steps.
To hold yourself accountable ask yourself these review questions regularly:
- Would my best self do that? What would my best self do now?
- Does that behavior help me to become my best self?
- Am I actually living like the person I claim to be?
Call To Action
- Write down the characteristics of the type of person you want to be.
- Implement daily habits that are “votes for the type of person you wish to become”.
- Hold yourself accountable (daily review questions/mentors/buddies) that you are actually following through.
Hope that helps,