Many of the habits I strive to help people create are something or someone they have never been before. Although I can’t always relate directly to their particular struggle of health and fitness, I can relate indirectly to creating a new identity.
I’ve always been an exerciser. I’ve performed physical activity essentially everyday since I was 7 years old. I’ve also always been conscious of food. I started tracking my protein around 15 years old and now subconsciously eat enough protein daily. These things have been ingrained in my identity. There are things that we all need to change in our identity to reach their goals. It might be fitness for you. And it might be something completely different for someone else.
When I began creating my 2020 goals a year ago I realized two things to achieve my goals were not currently part of my identity. I needed to become a learner and I needed to be more present with my family.
To become a learner, I needed to become a reader.
To be more present, I decided to take up daily journaling and meditation.
The latter was fairly easy. I used Jame Clear’s (see below) 2 minute rule, intention implementation, and habit stacking to create this habit. I journal and mediate for at least two minutes (usually that’s it) and do it in every morning after I brush my teeth (intention implementation and habit stacking on top of a previously formed habit). No matter what, I wake up earlier and leave 10 minutes to complete this practice. Tired, hungover, going for a run, it doesn’t matter.
The former, was a huge task for me to accomplish. In school, a book project was via spark notes and recreational reading wasn’t a thing for me. And I believed (incorrectly), that I was not a reader.
Luckily, the first book I picked up was Atomic Habits by James Clear. This set me up for success in these changes. The biggest take away was I needed to change my identity. I needed to go from being a non-reader to a reader and believe that identity change. So, by reading for 2 minutes every night before bed, I told myself I am now a reader. Readers don’t skip days because they are tired. Readers don’t skip days because they would rather watch TV. Readers read. So every night before bed after I brushed my teeth (habit stacking, intention implementation) I read for at least two minutes. Sometimes it’s longer. Often it’s not. Readers have a habit of reading, not in a specific duration or number of pages.
Not only did Clear’s identity change idea help create this habit, but as you read above, three concepts really helped me: the 2 minute rule (do something for 2 minutes a day), intention implementation (I will do [fill in the black] at (time), and habit stacking (creating a new habit after one that is already formed).
I am now getting 1% closer daily to the person I want to be, the identity I want to create, and the goals I strive to achieve. Based on my goals for 2021, I know I need to continue with these habits, but I need to become more organized and experiment more. The next habit I am working on is constant notetaking, so I can remember my ideas and try them out, constantly experimenting. To be better organized, I have begun indexing my books on the front page to reference ideas quickly and using Evernote to organize all of my digital thoughts, notes, and information.
I share this because many of you have goals. You want to become something, build something, or achieve something that our identity isn’t currently aligned with. To be honest, I haven’t wanted to share my journey of becoming a reader or being more present. I’m not sure why. But in moving my 2020 books from atop my dresser to their new home, I felt really proud for the fact I went from reading nothing, to all of these and more in a year. When I first did the math of the 2 minute rule, I realized in 10 years I could have read and digested so much in just two minutes a day. These books are just one representation of the identity that I sought to change in 2020.
I definitely am no expert in life, achieving your goals, or becoming who you wish to become. I am on the right track which is why I decided to share the above. Essentially, I believe that we are all capable of much more. We just need to create the behaviors that our desired identity requires.
Are you ready to be the person you want to be? To change your identity and cast a vote for that person on a daily basis?
I know I am. Let’s continue on this journey together.
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.