For a while now I’ve been reading the book, “Atomic Habits”, by James Clear. I’m finding that I can really only absorb it in small bits, so I usually only read a few pages at a time.
One of the concepts that the author talks about in the book is an “identity change” vs just focusing on the new goal or habit. That by focusing on changing your identity, and identifying with that which you are trying to accomplish, that you will experience better results.
I have to say, I think he’s on to something. I am someone who struggles to get enough activity in my day. I don’t love (or, lets be honest, even like) exercising or working out. There have been seasons of my life where this has been enjoyable (Running, who even was that girl? I’ll tell you who. A girl with no kids, that’s who.) or felt more doable, but this isn’t that season. To tell the truth, the last many haven’t been either.
For years (literally) getting more activity has been on my to do list, my goal list, my habit list, and any other list you can think of that I might create. I bypass it again and again for other things that I enjoy or prefer.
Then, we went on vacation. Everyday while we are on vacation we go for a walk on the beach. Sometimes twice a day. No thought or extra effort involved, it’s just what we do. I was thinking about this while we were on the way home and how it is my part of who I am, part of my identity to take a walk daily at the beach, but it’s not when I am home, so I decided to change that.
I am someone who takes a walk every day. It may only be 10 minutes, but it’s a walk, and it’s just what I do. Making that shift in my identity means that I have taken a walk every day for 25 straight days (of course I am including those days that I walked at the beach, because, duh, who doesn’t need a little boost when doing something new?!). Naturally I’m tracking this, and of course I have an app for that. (It’s called “Done” and it’s free.)
Making this identity shift has made this dramatically easier, and I’m even enjoying and looking forward to my walk each day, go figure.
I imagine this can work both ways. What negative “truths” do you identify with? I’m lazy. I’m not good an open houses. I just don’t like making phone calls. (I totally identify with that last one.)
Instead of trying to change your habits, or setting another goal, or putting something on your to do list again and again, instead try shifting your mindset around your identity. It just might make all the difference for you.
Now if anyone needs me, I’ll be taking a walk. It’s what I do.