How to Stick to Your Goals
Change can be difficult. But you already know that.
We all want to become healthier and happier.
But even if we get motivated and start eating healthier, it can be tough to actually stick to our new behaviours. We’ve all seen it. We set off on a new diet full of determination, but then a few days later we’re right back to our old ways of eating.
Why is that? Why is it so hard to continue doing what we’ve decided to do? It is because we tend to act in ways that align with how we identify ourselves. The way that we identify ourselves has a powerful subconscious influence on our decision making.
We like to think that we’re consciously making decisions throughout the day, but most of our decisions are made subconsciously. Most of the day, our subconscious is in our mental driver’s seat. That’s a problem. It reduces our ability to follow through on our conscious decisions to get healthy. But there’s a gem hidden in that problem. The gem is that we can harness the power of our subconscious to achieve our goals. How do we do that? By creating-identify based habits.
What are identity-based habits?
Identity-based habits are habits that stem from the way that we identify ourselves. For example, if you identify yourself as the type of person who exercises every day, you are far more likely to exercise every day. Exercise is no longer something that you force yourself to do; it is an activity that is in line with who you are. It becomes an identity-based habit. You exercise naturally because that is the type of person you are.
Creating a link between our routines and our identity is a surprisingly powerful method of building the habits that help us achieve our goals.
Our subconscious mind only views the external world through the perspective of the conscious mind. What we do is much more likely to be picked up by our subconscious, and the subconscious is where habits are formed.
For example, when we go for a walk a few days in a row, we reinforce our identity as someone who exercises. When we exercise, we make the identity “I am an In Shape Mummy” become truer. Every day that we continue to go for a walk makes that belief truer, and it becomes easier to identify ourselves as an In Shape Mummy. This feedback loop can become self-reinforcing until the habit is engrained.
“There’s a difference between waking up early and being an early riser, eating a healthy meal and being a healthy eater, getting some work done and being a productive person.” - Tynan, author of Superhuman by Habit
How do we create identity-based habits?
In order to believe in a new identity, we have to prove it to ourselves. And we prove it to ourselves by taking action. When we take action repeatedly, we create a new identity.
The key to building lasting habits is to focus on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviours are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).
To change your behaviour for the long term, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.
Changing your beliefs is easier than you might think.
There are two steps:
1. Decide what type of person you want to become.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins. Do the actions that are in line with the person you want to be.
For example, if you want to become the type of person who moves more every day. Start with a small win. Buy a pedometer. Walk 50 steps today. Tomorrow, walk 100 steps. The day after that, 150 steps. If you keep this up 5 days per week and add 50 steps each day, then by the end of the year, you’ll be walking over 10,000 steps per day.
Identity-based habits encourage us to stop worrying about the results and to concentrate on being a person who does the habit. Decide what type of person you want to be. Performing your routine creates small but consistent wins that confirm and reinforce that you are that kind of person.
Think of yourself as a person who does the routine that you want to engrain as a habit. Then repeatedly perform that routine while telling yourself that you are the type of person who does that routine.
If you say to yourself that you’re a person who exercises every day, then going for a walk becomes an empowering act that is in line with your self-image rather than something you have to force yourself to do. Every time you go for a walk, it reinforces how you identify yourself and you become far more likely to keep going for walks every day.
You can’t rely on being motivated if you want to achieve your goals. You have to become the type of person you want to be. And becoming the person you want to start with the process. It starts with taking the actions that prove your new identity to yourself.
Stop worrying about results. Start focussing on the process steps that will reinforce your new identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Build identity-based habits now. The results will naturally follow later.
You may not feel identify yourself as an In Shape Mummy now. But you can start to act like an In Shape Mummy. You can start to do the things that an In Shape Mummy would do. And as soon as you do, you start to change how you identify yourself. You’ll start to identify yourself as an In Shape Mummy. And once you start identifying yourself as an In Shape Mummy, then acting like an In Shape Mummy will become natural. You will not have to work on it. You will not have to rely on motivation or willpower. It will come naturally.
One of the easiest ways to start building identity-based habits is to have an In Shape Mummy Health Shake for breakfast.
It is a simple and easy act and has very low barriers to habit creation.
After you’ve been having a shake for breakfast for a few days, you’ll start to identify yourself as someone who eats healthy. And identifying yourself as someone who eats healthy will make it easier to make healthy choices for the rest of the day! You’ll soon find it effortless to make healthy choices. And when it becomes easy to make healthy choices, you’ll find that you naturally start to shed weight and achieve your goals!
“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be, from this moment on.” — Hal Elrod
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