Do you ever feel something is holding you back from achieving your goals? It could be self-doubt, confusion, or a lack of motivation. What if I told you that the key to unlocking your true potential lies in who you are and why you do what you do? It’s 100% about your self-image. 100%! Redefining your identity and understanding how this shapes your decisions is essential for authentic, sustainable achievement. In this blog post, we’ll talk about how anyone trying to achieve anything can use the power of identity to increase their success. Let’s get started!
Achievement isn't about goals. It is about Identity.
Everyone sets goals. Few achieve them. The primary reason is that people set goals that are not in alignment with their deep-seated, subconscious self-image. Shifting our identity to align with our desires is a powerful way to achieve our goals. It’s the ONLY way to sustain the achievement of our dreams. In other words, instead of setting a goal, we focus on becoming the identity of the desired outcome. “Shifting identity” may not make sense initially, but stay with me. It will become crystal clear in a moment.
Most people set goals based on something they don’t like about themselves. For instance, they wish they read more. Or they want to be leaner. Or they wish that they were wealthier. In each case, the person says, “I’m this way, and I wish I were that way.” They have a goal that is the natural outcome for someone they are NOT. At least not yet. But as long as the goal is the outcome of a different kind of person, they will struggle to achieve it. And in the rare case they accomplish the goal temporarily, they will not be able to maintain the achievement.
For example, someone wants to lose 20 pounds. The problem is that, deep down, they have several ingredients in their self-image that will make losing weight a struggle. To begin, they might see themselves as an overweight person. They might also have convinced themselves that being fat runs in their family. Further, they might think of themselves as “normal” and think of lean people as rare superhumans. Therefore, when they try to “diet,” they will fight an uphill battle. It will be a naturally overweight, genetically predisposed, average person trying to will their way into doing what only superhumans do. They’re doomed before they ever begin. Instead of setting a goal contrary to an ingrained self-image, it would be far more effective to change the self-image and take on a new identity. Instead of an overweight person trying to lose weight, they should become a lean person who has temporarily become overweight and has to return to their naturally slim selves.
We can give plenty of examples. We should see ourselves as runners instead of setting a goal to run. By seeing ourselves as runners, running becomes something we naturally do, and achieving the dream becomes a natural byproduct of this new identity. This approach makes achieving the goal less about the goal itself and more about who you are. It’s about living in accordance with your values and what is important to you.
How to Adopt a New Identity
Adopting a new identity requires taking responsibility for yourself and taking ownership of your actions and decisions. First, you must be willing to make changes to align yourself with your new identity. Next, you have to decide what type of behavior will help move you towards this new identity and then start taking action on those behaviors consistently. Setting goals can help guide these actions, but avoiding getting caught up in the details or focusing too much on the result is essential. Instead, focus on becoming the type of person who would naturally take those steps without having to think about it too much – someone who lives their life according to those new values and beliefs.
Changes that Align Your Identity
The first thing you have to do is decide who you are moving forward. Once you do that, you need to ask yourself what people with the same self-image as the new you do. Let’s go back to the example of becoming a runner instead of setting a running goal. You start by saying, “I’m a runner.” And say it a lot. Say it out loud. Say it to whoever will listen. Start seeing yourself as a runner. When people ask you what you do, you say, “run.” When asked about your hobbies, you say, “my favorite hobby is running. I love to run.” Starting today (in this example), you ARE a runner. Are you booking a business trip? You’re calling ahead to ask the hotel if there are good routes for your morning run near the hotel. You’re jumping into your runner’s group on social media and asking for advice on where to stay that will give you the most options for your runs while you’re there.
Next, you must ask yourself, “What do runners do?” I am not a runner, but I can think of many natural behaviors for runners. First, they buy good running shoes. In fact, they study running shoes and know a lot about them. They read running blogs. They listen to running podcasts. They join running clubs and participate in local runs like charity 5K’s and more. Most of their selfies on Instagram are of them running. They can name the most famous runners and have runners they look up to. Finally, they watch running on TV, such as the Boston Marathon.
Of course, you can do this exercise with any identity/goal relationship. We don’t want to set a goal to read a book every month. We want to become readers. We don’t want to set a goal to make 20 sales calls every day. We want to see ourselves as top performers in our sales organization. Instead of an intent to learn Spanish, we are linguaphiles, or we’re avid travelers who spend tons of time in Mexico (or both).
What happens when you have shifted your identity to align with the person you want to be is that the behaviors that would have been hard begin to flow out of your new-found self-image naturally. For example, runners don’t “try” to run. They run. It’s intrinsic to being a runner that you run. Likewise, top performers don’t “try” to make calls. Making calls is what sales superstars do. Since you’re now a superstar, of course, you make calls.
In essence, shifting your identity allows you to become more self-reliant and empowered by controlling how you want your life to look rather than letting outside forces dictate it for you. The beauty of this method is that once you have established an identity change, it allows you to set goals and develop habits and behaviors that will enable those goals to happen organically without forcing yourself into action every step. This approach gives us more freedom from external pressures so we can live a life based on our values – one where success comes from living out our true selves rather than trying hard for something externally imposed upon us.
Shifting Your Self-Image Means Examining Your Beliefs
One of the most common causes of self-sabotage is ingrained beliefs that oppose our desired outcomes. Often without conscious awareness, we may have set an objective in direct opposition to our core values and beliefs. These beliefs can be so ingrained in our minds that we don’t even realize they’re there until we begin to notice the patterns of self-sabotage manifesting in our lives. Achieving such a goal will be difficult, if not impossible, as our subconscious mind constantly pushes against the required actions. A typical example of this is someone setting a target that has to do with wealth. They may want to start a new business or get an existing one to grow. But deep down, sometimes subconsciously, they have been convinced that only bad people become wealthy. This belief says that wealthy people are either lucky, evil, or both. “Only people willing to step on others can get to the top.” “Some people have all the luck. That’s not me.” These attitudes will create self-sabotage. The logic, based on faulty presuppositions, is clear. It goes like this. “A. Wealthy people are evil. B. I’m not evil. C. Therefore, I can’t be wealthy.”
You have to call these beliefs out for the lies that they are. In this example, it’s simply not true. I can tell you that the vast majority of wealthy people were neither lucky nor evil. They’ve worked and sacrificed at a level the average person cannot fathom, and they’re incredibly generous and others focused. However, this false narrative prevents many people from taking action and building wealth because it keeps them locked into a cycle of fear, guilt, and shame. Be uncompromisingly honest about your beliefs and boldly and relentlessly challenge them. Research the opinion looking for evidence that contradicts what you’ve believed. Google examples of people who prove your belief wrong. Rather than accepting this false narrative as truth, it’s essential to recognize this limiting belief and work towards replacing it with more empowering ones. For instance, instead of believing that only bad people become wealthy, try thinking that hard work and dedication are the key factors in achieving financial success. When you replace negative beliefs with positive ones, you will feel more motivated and empowered to take action toward reaching your financial goals. You may also find yourself taking risks you would have previously avoided out of fear or anxiety about the outcome.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to self-sabotage, the root cause often lies within our core beliefs. Therefore, we must first identify these limiting beliefs before we can progress toward overcoming them and achieving our goals. Continue to remind yourself that your new identity and your values align entirely. By doing this work on ourselves, we create an environment where success is achievable—and this opens up a world of possibilities!
Identity Trumps Goals
It’s evident that goal setting plays a role in achievement, but the importance of finding alignment between goals and identity is often overlooked. People fail to achieve their goals because they need to focus on identity instead of the outcome. To avoid these falls, take on the identity of the kind of achievement desired. Fully put on the new identity and wear it around. Talk like that new person would talk. Engage in the activities and behaviors of the new identity. And connect that identity with your highest values. This will put you in the top 1% of people trying to transform their lives, and the results will astonish you.
Let me know your thoughts and experience with this approach in the comments below. And be sure to subscribe to get important updates. God bless you!