If you show up to a restaurant that sells alcohol but you don’t drink, is it a temptation to order wine?
This is the first lesson of my Fit Mom: Your identity makes decisions, not your head.
Fit Mom taught me that the key to becoming healthy is in creating a new identity.
“Your behaviors are a reflection of your identity,” she would always tell me. “What you do is a mirror image of the type of person you believe you are.”
Before I started becoming healthy, my Fit Mom helped me understand that short-term habit change leads to long-term behavior change. And in order to change my behavior for good, I needed to start believing new things about myself.
I needed to build short-term, identity-based habits.
She sat me down and drew out the following diagram.
The first layer is changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results: losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change.
The second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level.
The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level.
“Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe,” said Fit Mom. “When it comes to building habits that last, the problem is the direction of change.”
“Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, you start by focusing on who you wish to become.”
The Recipe for Sustained Success
Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.
1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
First, decide who you want to be. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become?
These are big questions, and many people aren’t sure where to begin—but they do know what kind of results they want: to get six-pack abs or to feel less anxious or to double their salary. That’s fine; start there and work backward from the results you want to the type of person who could get those results. Ask yourself, “Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?”
Here are two examples of how you can make this work in real life.
Want to lose weight?
Identity: Become the type of person who moves more every day.
Small win: Buy a pedometer. Walk 50 steps when you get home from work. Tomorrow, walk 100 steps. The day after that, 150 steps. If you do this 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.
Want to become strong?
Identity: Become the type of person who never misses a workout.
Small win: Do pushups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Lesson #1 Takeaway
Fit Mom has taught me that when you want to become better at something, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting results.
Because when you’re identity is changed, you no longer have to make healthy decisions with your head. You make them habitually.
3 Rounds for Time:
400 m Sprint