“Who am I?” We ask and answer this question countless times over the course of a day. It’s unspoken. Hidden under other layers, but constantly there.
Roles we play or jobs we have… “I am a mom.” “I am a musician.” “I am a researcher.” Qualities we possess… “I am fearless.” “I am compassionate.” “I am creative.” Or actions we’ve taken… “I am a runner.” “I am a writer.” “I am a sailor.”
“Your behavior is always consistent with your own identity.” – Wesley Goo
In his book, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, Dan Ariely wrote about a series of experiments related to cheating. The researchers found that participants would cheat sometimes, but not if it involved IDENTIFYING themselves as “cheaters.”
How does this relate to you and me?
“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them”. ― Jim Rohn
I have a goal. An ambitious one, I think. I signed up for a bodybuilding competition. It’s 10 weeks away, and I’m not prepared. I can give you a long list of reasons why, but at the heart of it… I don’t see myself as a fitness competitor. I’m not part of that industry. I have no desire to be a fitness model. In my own mind, I’m just an overweight girl who stumbled on this whole fitness thing and was lucky enough to fall in love with it.
As part of my nutrition business, I’ve sent the message over and over again that I haven’t done anything all that extraordinary. Everything I’ve done is something YOU could do too. I was obese. I had been overweight my entire life. If I can change, you can too!
This is the identity I’ve invested in. And while I believe every word, it’s not helping me now.
For a couple of days last week, I was eating like a fat girl. A fat girl with a great nutrition plan to fall back on. 🙂 I’ve been eating like I can “get away” with it. And I can.
Making poor food choices, even slacking off on my exercise for a day or two, these things aren’t going to destroy the fit body I’ve built. I’ve been consistent over time, I’ve changed what’s “normal” for me, and I have a great foundation.
But those aren’t the behaviors of a fitness competitor. They won’t get me RAPID results. They won’t get me looking my ABSOLUTE BEST. And they won’t help me win a competition against other incredible, fit, and disciplined women.
So, it’s time for a reframe. No magic formula for this, but here are some steps to try:
1. Describe your goal.
Make it vivid. Maybe it’s finding and posting a picture of the end result you want to achieve. Maybe there is one step in the process that you need to focus on. Describe it clearly. Know what you’re aiming for.
2. Describe the YOU who you will be when you reach that goal.
How will you look when you accomplish it? How will you feel? What will your thoughts and actions be like? Envision it as if your life, your achievement, were playing on the big screen. Think of people who HAVE reached that goal. What are they like? How do THEY look? Feel? Act?
3. Identify any disconnect.
How well does who you are now match with the person you need to become? Where do those two identities conflict? What do you need to change to reach your full potential?
4. Shift your mindset.
Easier said than done, I know! Start with changing the language you use to describe yourself. “I am…”
If you can’t yet describe yourself as the person you need to be, focus on negating the old description. For example, I see fitness competitors as consistent, disciplined, and driven. So I have to remind myself that, while I have struggled with consistency, that was IN THE PAST. This opens the door for new behavior, and a new identity, in the future.
Find something that gets you into the new mindset that you want. Something that makes you feel like that person. Maybe it’s looking at the picture of your goal. Maybe it’s a certain song or video. Surround yourself with these tools. Take advantage of them.
For me… I AM A FITNESS COMPETITOR. I eat to fuel my body and look my best. I am consistent and disciplined. I’ve WORKED for my six-pack and every ounce of muscle on my frame. It’s been simple, but it hasn’t been easy. I am hardcore. I am kickass. 😉 And in 10 weeks, I’ll prove it. To myself and to everyone else who has a scary, OMG-I-can’t-believe-I’m-going-to-do-this goal.
What are your big, scary goals? Is your identity NOW consistent with what you want to accomplish?