How to Achieve Your Goals for Real?
How can we achieve our goals for real this year? Do you want to do what you say you’ll do? Are you interested in finishing this year feeling proud of yourself and your actions? Do you want to feel differently about yourself and your actions?
Reaching our goals, getting the outcomes we want in our lives, feeling how we want to feel in our life is actually not about making resolutions and it’s not about behavior change. Getting the results we want is about identity change.
Resolutions and Goals
Do you ever wonder why study after study show resolutions fail? Or have you wondered if something was wrong with you? Perhaps criticizing yourself and your failed resolutions with the reasoning that you didn’t try hard enough.
Definitely not. I see you. You’re trying. In fact, it’s not about trying hard, or trying harder. Rather, it’s about going about behavior change in a different manner. When we attempt to change our life by changing our behaviors, it’s like swimming upstream. It takes a lot longer, feels a lot worse, and depending on how swift the current, we rarely get the result we want.
News alert: Setting resolutions or focusing on behavior change is the wrong place to start.
What To Do?
Reaching our goals, getting the outcomes we want in our lives, feeling how we want to feel in our life is not about behavior change. Getting the results we want is about identity change.
We must first start with our identity: who we believe ourselves to be. Our thoughts create our reality. Our identity, who we believe ourself to be, is the single biggest driver of our actions, our habits, the goals we set, how we feel about ourselves and what we believe we are capable of.
Real and lasting change comes from Identity Change
We’ve had it backwards. The reason we want anything is because of how we think it will Mae us feel. We set out to achieve our goals with the underlying belief that we will feel a certain way when we get there.
Understandably so, as there isn’t much money in thought or identity change while there are lots of advertising dollars in the “if this then that” mentality:
- If I buy that sweater, then I’ll be happy.
- I’ll feel loved, if I have a boyfriend/husband/partner.
- If I lose the weight, then I’ll love my body.
- If I have a high paying job, then I’ll feel successful.
The problem with thinking that things change how we feel about ourselves is multi-flawed. First and foremost because it’s flat out not how our brain works – our feelings don’t come from external circumstances. I offer many examples in this week’s podcast episode; suffice it to say, having a certain car doesn’t make you feel a certain way – it’s our thoughts about the car that make us feel what we feel.
Fortunately, at some point around the middle of life, many of us have that moment where we realize “DAMMIT! The things aren’t what make us feel how we feel: the husband, the job, the body, the addition….” We learn the things don’t (and can’t) make us feel how we want to feel. Namely that the T comes before the F in the thought model.
This is what good midlife crises are made of. Namely the realization that things circumstances don’t cause our feelings. Our thoughts do. We often have that thought: “Hey! I did what I was supposed to do, why don’t I feel how I want to feel?” followed by the realization that it’s things don’t make us feel a certain way. It’s not an if this then that life.
Behavior Change and Identity to Achieve Your Goals
Our identity is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. In one-on-one sessions I help clients uncover where their current identities come from so that we can bust through them and create a new future. For today, let’s focus on learning about identity and how it is the driver of the results we see in our lives.
When seeking to change our identity to achieve our goals, I like the definition of identity by author James Clear. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear points out that the word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and, identidem, which means repeatedly. In summary, your identity is quite literally your “repeated beingness.”
Furthermore, the thoughts we repeatedly think create who we are. If we think it, we become it. When setting yourself up to achieve your goals, looking at our identity is a mandatory first step. What we think about ourselves drives our behavior. When setting goals, if we don’t think we’re the type of person who can achieve our goals we move into goal setting and goal achievement with a lot of friction and drama in our heads.
For example, if we think women in their midlife are out of shape and crabby, we are unlikely to choose foods and movement that supports that identity and belief. On the other hand, if think life keeps getting better and midlife is a wonderful period of vibrancy and freedom, we will make different choices.
Which stories are you telling yourself about yourself?
Our identity is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. Our actions are votes that support that story. Your actions and habits reinforce the stories you tell yourself about yourself. Each time you have an experience that reinforces that story, your brain solidifies that story for you.
The takeaway here is every action you take is a vote: it’s either a vote to stay the same and reinforce the old identity or a vote for the type of person you want to become. Small actions and habits matter so much when moving to achieve our goals.
How to Achieve Your Goals:
Today’s fundamental takeaway is that the way we think of ourselves affects every aspect of our lives. When we can change the way we think of ourselves, the behavior change can feel effortless. Here’s how to start:
1) Choose Your Identity
Allow yourself to brainstorm and think of the person you want to be. I love starting my future brainstorm sessions by filling in this sentence: “I’m the type of woman who….” This is what I’ve referred to in other episodes as our thought baby. Protect it. Nurture it. Care for it daily. Practice it daily. Write it on stickies. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Share it with us in the Warrior Group.
2) Take Daily Votes to Support Your New Identity
Consider each action that you take as a vote. Are the actions your’e taking a vote for your new identity or a vote for your old identity? Consciously and deliberately choose a small specific action you can take, starting today, that will be a vote for your future self. The ninja trick here is to choose such a small vote for yourself, such a small action, that you’ll do it.
For instance, if your new identity is that of a woman who chooses food that support her body, your daily vote could be to make sure you have P&P at every meal (produce and protein). Further, if your new identity is that you are the type of woman who is less reactive with her children, your daily vote could be to begin meditating for 1 minute each day.
Achieve Your Goals with Identity Change
This is the simplicity of our brain and how it works. Choose the woman you want to become, choose how you want to see yourself, and choose a small daily action you can take to vote for that future you each and every day.
Every action you take is a vote for your future self or your past self. When you are on the road to becoming that next best version of yourself, sometimes you have to act as if and take the action first.
If you are looking to fast track your identity change and goal achievement, surround yourself with women who are doing the same. The people we surround ourselves with influence us. Join the greatest community of women supporting women on the web today! No more waiting!