They say it takes 21 consecutive days for a new habit to be formed. For those of us who feel like we can't stick it out for three weeks, these 21 days sound excruciating, especially when we keep using the same old strategies. Phone reminders, fancy apps, willpower -- we all use the same tools to make sure we are reminded to keep up with our newly forming habits.

Sounds extreme, right? No, this does not mean getting a new legal name and moving to a new country. The way you view your identity, it turns out, can have a profound effect on whether or not you will succeed at that new gym, health, or life routine. 

James Clear, entrepreneur and author, says the root of "behavior change and building better habits is your identity," and that each action you perform is driven by the "fundamental belief that it is possible." So, according to Clear, "if you change your identity -- the type of person that you believe that you are -- then it's easier to change your actions."

Platform product lead at Slack headquarters, Buster Benson, echoes this mentality. For him, for example, his goal is not to just run a marathon, it's to become a marathoner. Doing this requires consistently accomplishing small actions that are supported by an identity shift.

This means if you're hoping to become physically fit, for instance, you should start thinking to yourself, "I'm the type of person who chooses salad," or "I'm the type of person who never skips a workout." Not only will you find yourself acting in accordance with these beliefs, thus making headway in your goals, but you may also find that the pressure and stress you normally would feel in pursuit of these goals will dissipate. 

As Clear reminds us, "Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to become. Each action becomes a small vote that tells your mind, "Hey, I believe this about myself." 

Eventually, with a identity-shifting, positive mental attitude and consistency, you will actually transform!

Published on: Dec 20, 2017
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