How do you see yourself? What do you believe you can or can’t do? It makes a difference!
The August newsletter of Aging Well.News discussed Habits. It explored whether or not people can choose their habits. The conclusion was they could.
Good news! Yet, although I chose different habits, weight loss wasn’t happening. I exercised more, tried several popular diets, and ate less - no results.
Back to the drawing board.
Goals and habits are two sides of the success coin. Constructive goals provide a sense of direction, and effective habits provide the mental discipline to achieve those goals. One without the other can lead to frustration and failure.
Habits are the set of rules operating in the background that influence automatic behavior. Good habits help people reach their goals more effectively and efficiently. Bad ones make things harder or prevent success entirely.
I went to my source, the James Clear book Atomic Habits, for new ideas. Clear suggests that if peoples’ habits aren’t accomplishing their goal – they need to look at the underlying systems which support or sabotage their goals. Here is what he has to say.
So, if your goal is to write a best-selling book, your system would include how much time you spend writing, how much research you conduct, and your marketing plan.
That made sense – rather than having the goal of losing weight, I could stock my refrigerator with healthy foods, no longer have cake and cookies in the house, and stretch out each morning before going to work.
Then he talked about identity. That caught my eye because my life and identity have changed completely this past year.
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.
Clear explains it succinctly.
My husband and I planned to age well together, but he died. Overnight, my identity changed from wife to widow, from partner to single person, and from togetherness to aloneness. I saw myself as caring, strong, courageous, and willing, which were fine qualities. . .yet . . .
Now my goal was to age well independently, but how I saw myself no longer worked. It wouldn’t get the job done, and it wasn’t who I needed or wanted to be. Time for a change.
I now choose to see myself as a “powerful, confident, independent, healthy woman.” This affirmation is written on a post-a-note and pasted on my computer.
That note guides my choices. Every time I act in powerful, confident, independent, healthy ways, I reinforce the habits needed to achieve my goal of aging well.
This is not an easy task – but it may be everyone’s challenge as they age. Bodies and lives change. So, our sense of self has to adapt to who we want to be given our current circumstances.
How is your identity serving you - does it need a reboot?