Identity-based Habits vs. Action-based Habits

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I just read an interesting article titled "Identity–Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year". It was very interesting. In a nut shell it says that your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. In other words, what you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).

To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. Most goals are appearance or action goals (i.e. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get stronger”). The reason why it’s so hard to stick to new habits is that we often try to achieve a performance or appearance–based goal without changing our identity.

So how do we change who we believe ourselves to be? How do we change our identity? There are two steps.

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.

2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Start small and trust that the results will come as you develop a new identity. Start with incredibly small steps. The goal is not to achieve results at first, the goal is to become the type of person who can achieve those things.

For example: 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.

Hmmmm....interesting. I tend to believe this is true. If I don't truly believe I am a person who moves will I truly make moving a priority? If I change how I think of myself through successfully achieving "small wins" my beliefs about myself will change and eventually more of my actions will follow that belief.

Here is the link to the article:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'll say this: I was one of those people who said, 'I hate to sweat.'

    I liked running but only in the rain, when I couldn't tell I was sweating (this is as a teen to I dunno 30-something).

    I changed my beliefs. It took a lot of praying 'please if I'm addicted to something, make it running/ fitness' and affirmations 'I love the way my body detoxes and cares for itself...I'm growing stronger and more functional with every workout.' It also took sticking to a scheduled program. Between those words (spoken internally) and repetitive action, I did it.

    Then, I started getting over-training injuries, so maybe don't try to addiction to fitness! :) But seriously, I can't BELIEVE I said 'I hate to sweat' for 2 decades!
    1991 days ago
    Great article, Laura. Thank you!
    1991 days ago
  • ERIN1128
    Interestng, thanks for sharing!
    1991 days ago
    Very interesting. Thanks so much for posting about it and the link. It makes so much sense to me.
    1991 days ago
    I think another factor is that we are rarely actually just "adding" a new habit (although we tend to think of it this way). Usually a new habit must, at the very least, compete with existing habits or even replace them. Often, we don't really want to give up the old habit. We just want to somehow add a new one. This is particularly true with "new" goals regarding weight loss or exercise. Thinking through where / how a new habit must fit into the entire complex of our existing actions is very useful.
    1991 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/9/2013 3:55:34 PM
    This is great! Thanks for sharing.
    1991 days ago
  • NIXXI321
    That sounds like a fantastic article. Did you read it online or was it in a magazine?
    1991 days ago
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