How to Change Your BehaviorNov 23, 2020
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new "identity" first.
Let me explain.
Your current behaviors 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 behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. Imagine how you typically set goals.
You might start by saying, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get stronger.”
If you’re lucky, someone might say, “That’s great, but you should be more specific.”
So then you say, “I want to lose 40 pounds” or “I want get 56 hours of sleep each week."
These goals are centered around your performance or your appearance.
Performance and appearance goals are great, but they aren’t the same as habits.
If you’re already doing a behavior, then these types of goals can help drive you forward.
But if you’re trying to start a new behavior, then I think it would be far better to start with an identity–based goal.
The interior of behavior change and building better habits is your identity.
Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible.
So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.
The reason why it’s so hard to stick to new habits is that many over-40 folks often try to achieve a performance or appearance–based goal without changing your identity.
Most of the time you try to achieve results before proving to yourself that you have the identity of the type of person you want to become.
It should be the other way around.
So what is the recipe for sustained success?
(AKA playing the "Long Game") Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think.
There are two steps.
- Decide the type of person you want to be.
- Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Note: I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start with incredibly small steps.
The goal is not to achieve results at first, the goal is to become the type of person who can achieve those things.
For example, a person who joins the best online personal trainer and works out consistently is the type of person who can become strong.
Develop the identity of someone who works out first, and then move on to performance and appearance later.
Start small and trust that the results will come as you develop a new identity.
How to Change Your Behavior
Here are five examples of how you can use identity-based habits in real life.
Example 1: Want to lose weight?
Identity: Become the type of person who moves more every day.
Small win: This week, before work, do 1 set of 10 reps of each movement: pushup, squat.
Next week, do two sets. The third week, do three sets.
If you do this four days per week, then by the end of the year, you’ll increase your metabolism and get a bit stronger.
Example 2: Want to become a better writer?
Identity: Become the type of person who writes 1,000 words every day.
Small win: Write one paragraph each day this week.
Example 3: Want to become strong?
Identity: Become the type of person who never misses a workout.
Small win: Do pushups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Example 4: Want to be a better friend?
Identity: Become the type of person who always stays in touch.
Small win: Call one friend every Saturday. If you repeat the same people every 3 months, you’ll stay close with 12 old friends throughout the year.
Example 5: Want to be taken seriously at work?
Identity: Become the type of person who is always on time.
Small win: Schedule meetings with an additional 15–minute gap between them so that you can go from meeting to meeting and always show up early.
Question for you: What is your identity?
In my experience, when you want to become better at something, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting amazing results.
This is especially true at first. If you want to get motivated and inspired, then feel free to watch a YouTube video, listen to your favorite song, or try some workout DVD.
But don’t be surprised if you burn out after a week.
That's because you can’t rely on being motivated to make lasting changes in your life.
You have to become the type of person you want to be, and that starts with proving your new identity to yourself.
Now for a very personal story.
I used to drink alcohol to excess 🍺🍺🍺.
A few too many drinks... many, many times in college.
Sure my friends were doing it and providing positive feedback for dumb, booze-infused behavior; however, I'm ultimately responsible for my choices.
The behavior continued, albeit less frequently, into my early thirties.
Heck, anytime I would hang out with my friends, booze was always on the menu.
This is not an excuse, just stating the facts.
Drinking too much and simply feeling terrible later.
At a certain point I felt that a proper coach should not drink alcohol... simply because it's tough take somebody seriously who drinks to excess.
Especially when a professional coach is supposed to be a role model and teacher of all things healthy.
Getting drunk is not "fun."
Dig deeper and you'll discover it's a temporary anesthetic for something that's bothering you...
...a fleeting, purposeless escape.
So, one day, I just eliminated booze.
I also stopped meeting friends out at bars "for a drink" because, well, I don't drink.
(Consequently, I don't see these friends as much.)
Same way I eliminated cable TV when I realized that it contributed to an environment of being more sedentary.
If you’re looking to make a change, then I say stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity.
Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve.
Build the habit now.
The results can come later.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.