The good news is that you can change habits easier than you think you can. The bad news is that you have to change what you think of yourself. You can’t become something if you don’t think you can do it. I am not talking in motivation or just believe in yourself type of way. What I am saying is that who you are at your core must change. You will always act in consistency with who you think you are. If your identity is attached to a trait that goes against your habits then you are in trouble.

The good news is that you can change habits easier than you think you can. The bad news is that you have to change what you think of yourself. You can’t become something if you don’t think you can do it.

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You Act Inline With Your Identity 

I remember growing up in school and seeing kids be branded as being “bad kids.” I was that kid for a while, and you know what I never failed to let teachers down when given a chance. Here is the problem. Everyone may have wanted me to change, but I could not change because it was my identity.

You can act against your own identity. It would make you crazy. If you are known to be a hard worker or a giver, and that’s what you think you are, you will live up to that reputation. If someone asks you for something, you will feel like you are ruining your identity but not following through.

You can act against your own identity. It would make you crazy. If you are known to be a hard worker or a giver and that’s what you think you are you will live up to that reputation. If someone asks you for something you will feel like you are ruining your identity but not following through.

The Most Common Example of an Identity Change 

When you see someone on the heavier side, trying to lose weight, they almost always fail because they can't shift their identity. They have been the fat kid their whole life; they have told themselves so many stories about why they are the way they are. They believe these stories are the very fabric of who they are.

They can decide to lose weight and eat well and try and work out, but it won't last because they don't see themselves as a person who loses weight or is skinny. They eventually fall back to their same behaviors that are in line with their identity.

When people are successful at losing weight, they almost always have a huge identity shift. They see themselves as healthy and fit, and they feel worthy of being around people who are fit. They start with the change on the inside. While those who fail hope the change comes from the outside.

Darkest Before The Dawn

When you start with the change, you can get through the hardest point in succeeding at anything. Right when you are about to succeed, you almost always want to quit the most. When I made the 2012 Olympic team, I almost quit the sport in 2012 from injuries and frustration. What got me through was my identity as a runner and a hard worker. If I quit, I would have lost two of my core identities at one time.

There are countless stories of people quitting right before the success was coming. It is always darkest right before the dawn. When you match your identity to being the type of person that already has what you are wanting, you can keep pushing because it's not about the external. It's about the internal.

For the person losing weight, they feel great working out and eating healthy. It may not show on the scale yet, and they may not be getting compliments, but inside they feel better. They are acting in line with their identity, and that carries them to success.

When you start with the change you are able to get through the hardest point in succeeding at anything. Right when you are about to succeed you almost always want to quit the most.

How I stopped Eating Sugar 

When I stopped running track, I started destroying sugar. I always have had a sweet tooth, but the track was my reason to take it easy. Once I stopped, I felt like I had sacrificed so much that I wanted to make up. After a few years of this, I knew I need to make a change. I never could, though, and it was frustrating because I prided myself on my abilities to build new habits quickly.

I could not break this one, and I hated it!
I finally reason that I had a massive identity issue. I saw myself as a person who loved sugar, and I always bragged about my love for gummies. That is who I was, and I was proud to say it!

One day I made a simple shift. Someone asked me if I wanted candy, and I said: “I'm not a sugar guy.” That was a complete lie at the time, but something shifted in me. Now that person and the person beside him heard me say that I was not a sugar guy. If I ate sugar around them, I would be a liar. I told more and more people this. I made this known to the world that I don’t eat sugar. When I was at work, people would bring treats, and they knew I would not even touch them. I had broken the habit by changing how I see myself.

When I stopped running track I started destroying sugar. I always have had a sweet tooth but the track was my reason to take it easy.

Promote Your New Identity

The scary apart is going a bringing your new identity to the world because you are scared I get it. I learned this by mistake when I declared I was going to wake up at 3:10 AM in 2014. The mistake I made was changing my social handles to @IanWarner310.

Once I did that not only was it my identity but every time I went on social media I was reminded of it. If I wanted to break free from this, I would have to change my handles. I could get up at 5 Am and have these 310 Social handles.

It was never my intention to stick with this as long as I did but it became my identity. People know I get up early as hell so I stick with it!

It was never my intention to stick with this as long as I did but it became my identity. People know I get up early as hell so I stick with it!

Conclusion 

Go and do the same thing. If you want to be something or not be something follow these rules

  1. Tell yourself that you are a different type of person
  2. Tell the world that you are a different person
  3. Habit Stack

-          Stack – Use habits as your cues to start another habit and include the thing you want to change in this if you can. For example, you can wake up, read, and then go workout back to back every day.

-          Start – The best way to habit stack is to start your day with it. It gives you momentum and when you start it off of waking up you are using a reliable keystone habit.

-          Schedule – Block as much time in the morning for your habits. Use this time to stack as many habits as possible.

-          Show up – There is nothing more important than showing up. There are not hacks for this, you just have to get off your ass and be there every day.

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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