Change is EASY!
I know what you are thinking… How can you say that change is easy? Let me explain. Deciding to make a change really isn’t that hard. All it takes is starting something new or stopping something old. For example, you can decide right now that you are going to work out three times per week. There! That’s it! You decided to make that change! The difficult part isn’t deciding to make a change, it’s sticking to it. One of the key things that helps make change stick is how you see yourself, your identity.
In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear outlines how our identity changes our outcomes. He uses an example of two smokers who want to quit. Imagine it’s the first day of not smoking and you offer smoker #1 a cigarette and their response is, “No thank you, I’m trying to quit.” Then, you ask smoker #2 if they want a cigarette and their response is, “No thank you, I’m not a smoker.” Do you see the difference? Smoker #1 is “trying” to quit but hasn’t really changed their identity as a smoker. Smoker #2, however, has embraced a new identity as a “non-smoker.”
Changing our identity is critical to short-circuiting an unwanted belief about ourselves. You see, what we believe about ourselves, whether true or not, becomes our identity. Our beliefs fuel our actions, which lead to our results – and our results get attached to our identity. Let’s go back to our first example about working out. If you want to make a change and get in shape, before jumping into it it’s important to decide that are a healthy person! That’s your new identity! If asked you could say “I’m a health nut! I love working out every week. That’s my jam!” At first it might sound a little forced, but over time how we identify ourselves changes who we are. James Clear uses this example of a person identifying as a “healthy person” who asks themselves through the day “What would a healthy person do in this instance? Would they eat that donut or have some fresh fruit? Would they work-out or watch another Seinfeld re-run?”
All of us have unwanted beliefs and habits that we’d love to change. I literally in-hale my food and it’s been an unwanted habit that I have struggled to change. I guess it’s time for me to identify as a “slow eater.” I will have to report back on my progress in the future!
In the meantime, don’t give up on change. Just start adjusting your thinking and how you identify yourself!