Shape your future with two simple words
Wow - how is it the last day of July? I can’t believe we are in the waning days of summer. It feels like it just started.
I had so many plans for things I was going to accomplish this summer.
I was going to:
- Have a clean, organized basement.
- Lose a few extra pounds that had crept on over our record-breaking, harsh Minnesota winter
- Get to the bottom of my overflowing email inbox.
But the problem with these habits is that they felt new. They felt different. They weren’t a part of my identity.
I never see myself as someone with a tidy basement. I’m just used to seeing my basement as cluttered, and, even though I don’t like that, I don’t see myself as a person with a clean basement.
The same goes for walking or losing weight. I don’t have the identity of someone who walks every night after dinner. That’s what other people do; not me.
Or my inbox. I don’t see myself as someone with an empty or minimal inbox. It seems like it is always overflowing.
But what if I developed some “identity-based habits?”
I love this idea by James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits.” He says:
“Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve.”
In other words, instead of setting performance or outcome goals (like I’m going to weigh a certain amount, clean out my basement, or have an empty inbox), try setting identity-based goals that start with “I am” - two incredibly powerful words:
“I am a person who walks every evening.”
“I am a person who keeps a tidy, organized basement.”
“I am a person who is responsive to emails and keeps an empty inbox.”
You can start with a performance or outcome-based goal. But then reverse engineer your goals and determine the kind of person who could actually experience those results. What does that person do/not do. James Clear suggests that you ask yourself: ‘Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?” Check out his free workbook here and/or check out this YouTube video.
So what are your identity-based habits? Who do you want to be and how will you identify yourself in order to make those behaviors into habits and those goals into a reality?
What type of person accomplishes the goals you have personally?
What kind of lawyer or legal professional attains the kind of professional goals you have set?
What do they do?
What do they not do?
As James Clear said: “With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.”
As for me, I’m going to try using identity-based habits and associated small wins consistently.
I’m a person who moves her body every day. (I walk for at least 30 minutes each day.)
I’m a person who maintains an organized home. (I declutter and organize for at least 30 minutes each day.)
I’m a person who responds quickly to emails and keeps her inbox below 25. (I answer emails every day at regular times and I don’t close out the work day until I’ve responded to the day’s emails.)
Whatever your goals, try using identity-based habits and small wins to get you there. What are the habits of the person who has achieved the goals you want to achieve?
Now go be that person, the rest of this summer and beyond!