The search for identity and desire for self-improvement are nothing new. New year’s resolutions are filled with plans for being a better version of you. The problem is, how do you actually go about it?
I read somewhere that we can reasonably expect to be able to change by about 25% but when I searched for it in proper journals I couldn’t find it. So possibly that’s not true. But let’s just say it is. Changing by 25% is still quite significant.
What would you focus on changing about you if you could be 25% better in that area?
Would you want to be 25% less shy? Or 25% more confident? Or 25% happier?
How about more feminine? More masculine? A better communicator?
There are so many facets to us and so many things we could be focusing on.
And then we have the nitty gritty of actually changing.
Obviously change is hard and our brains are not particularly fond of it. We need to use the quirks our brain has to try to overcome this natural aversion to change.
James Clear of Atomic Habits talks about having a vision of who you want to be – forming the identity you want in your mind. His rationale is that when you have an identity in mind it is easy to create new habits because when you see yourself as ‘that’ person you are simply performing the behaviours ‘that’ person would perform. He uses examples like ‘I”m the sort of person who remembers people’s names’ but I think this can be applied to a whole range of different aspects of identity.
Danielle LaPorte has an entire program devoted to developing an identity and then behaving in alignment. The Desire Map is marketed as a way to set soul-centred goals (ones that make you feel good) about how you want to feel when you reach your desired goals. This is opposed to having outcome goals (get promoted, get down to x kilos) that may feel hollow or meaningless once you reach them. Essentially this is a course where you choose five words that define who you want to be, you reflect on them daily and perform behaviours that evoke the feelings those words bring.
We learn and change through repetition. We also need that repetition to be interesting enough to keep us motivated. And we need to remember to do the repetitive things.
So if you want to change you will need to clarify what you want to be like, choose behaviours that define what you want to be like and remind yourself daily to perform those behaviours. And then….happy new identity!