“Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” —Robin Sharma
Back in the day when I was being disobedient, my Grandma Ruth would often say: “Boy, you need an attitude adjustment!” Being a parent now myself, I can admit that this was probably true, though at the time I’m sure I didn’t see it that way.
She was inferring that by changing my attitude I’d be able to change my behavior. However, changing our behaviors can be a challenge! Anyone who’s ever tried it can attest to this.
We are all creatures of habit so attempting to augment something we’ve being doing for sometime, can at best feel uncomfortable, at worst, downright fearful. Not to mention it’s been argued that, behaviors can often be biologically programmed or subconscious processes that are deeply ingrained in us.
However, some form of change is usually necessary if we intend to grow. And the sooner we embrace change, no matter what that looks like for us, the easier it will become to accept new challenges with courage and commitment.
Once we decide that we want to make a shift for the better, how do we stick to our new healthy habits?
Instead of struggling to change our behaviors, maybe we should try to shift our identities.
Wait what? What do you mean, shift our identities…what weird stuff are you yapping about now, Marc? I know, the first time I read this the other day, I was ready to rule this out too. But the second time I read it, it began to make sense.
As I’ve mentioned before, I reached a point in my life that I decided to live a more healthy lifestyle. When I stopped drinking alcohol all together, I developed a hankering for sugar. But if I was going to reach my healthiest potential, I didn’t want alcohol, sugar, procrastination, or any other hang-up to hold me down.
What I did, without actually knowing it, was to say to myself: “Self, you don’t do these things anymore. You read, write, exercise, meditate, and nurture your children.” I had in fact persuaded myself into believing that I was no longer the person I once was. I was, and am, the person I want to be already!
This is what I continue to affirm to myself and I practice this everyday just to maintain this sensiblity. And that’s in essence what James Clear is proposing with the shifting your identity idea.
Check out the diagram below. To create lasting behavioral change, James says that there are 3 layers.
The Three Layers of Behavior Change
- Outcomes Change – These are the results we hope to see – the outcome of our efforts. The reward.
- Changing Your Process – These are your healthy habits – the tools in which you plan to use to achieve your goals. In my case, my meditation practice and my various healthy routines.
- Identity Change – This is the nitty-gritty right here. These are the thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself and the world around you. All your hang-ups, biases and beliefs fall under this heading.
Since the “identity change” layer deals with our thoughts and beliefs, these are the things we declare to be a part of our personhood, the things that make us who we are. These things are so deeply ingrained in us, they will be the most difficult to change.
When setting our goals, we typically start with the desired result – the outcome phase. But to manifest what we want, we have to shift our core beliefs. When I wanted to switch to a healthy lifestyle, I had to declare that I no longer desire to eat too much sugar or drink alcohol. Suddenly, I wasn’t forcing myself not to do these things anymore. My new identity dictated to me that I am instead someone who enjoys eating healthy, exercising, and meditating.
This is what it means to have a complete identity shift and it has assisted me in profound ways. I’ve finally made the kind of adjustment that I know would make Grandma Ruth proud!
5 Fun Activities We Did This Weekend For Free
Coming up with fun (and free) things to do with the kids can stump any parent from time to time. And if your children are like ours, you probably hear your kids utter the words, “I’m bored,” at some point when they aren’t at school.
Here are 5 fun activities we did with our girls this weekend.
Having fun with the kids doesn’t mean that you have to go anywhere and spend a bunch of money. One of the things we enjoyed doing this weekend was going old school by playing some good old fashioned board games.
A nice family walk is always a good way to spend some time together – getting some fresh air, and a bit of exercise at the same time.
Practicing volleyball with Marley is one of the things we enjoy doing because of her strong desire to continue to improve her playing skills.
Possibly each time we get ready for a family cooking session, I have to remind myself that the mess that follows, will be well worth it if it creates joy and lasting memories for the kids.
You already know how much I advocate for the importance of having our children read as often as possible. But sometimes relaxing with a nice family movie can be a rewarding way to spend an evening together.
There are so many options out here for free family fun, but the key is to keep it simple. Life is always more fun when you spend it with the ones you love!
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