The Secret to Achieving Your Goals
Updated: Jan 31
The majority of goals particularly New Year’s Resolutions will fail. It’s estimated only 8% of people will stick with their goals and habits by the end of the year.
What separates these 8% and the rest?
The three categories of goals from superficial to deep are:
1. Outcome based goals
2. Actions based goals
3. Identity based goals
The majority of people only focus on what they want e.g., lose 12kg in 12 weeks.
Some will take action and establish the habits required to establish their goals e.g., strength train three times per week.
Few will take the time to establish who it is they want to become.
Most people just focus on outcomes and actions but you need all three layers and this is the secret to real long-lasting change that sticks.
If two different people were offered a cigarette here are two possible responses:
1. ‘No thank you, I’m not a smoker’
2. ‘No thank you, I’m trying to quit’
Notice the difference?
Person 1 doesn’t identity as a smoker so having a cigarette would be incongruent with who they are so declining the cigarette is effortless.
Person 2 still identifies as a smoker so there’s a push-pull tug of war going on inside their mind as they wrestle the temptation of having a cigarette thus burning willpower which is a finite resource.
The second person may have abstained from cigarettes for years through sheer willpower alone but until they let go of old identities and beliefs, they risk reverting back to their old habits.
When you establish your goals, think about the type of person you wish to become. Your identity is your self-image and the beliefs you hold about yourself.
By focusing on change from the inside out instead of the outside in, you’ll better be able to stick to your habits.
If you want to lose weight you might establish this identity: ‘I am a lean person’.
By doing this, all the actions you take that that are congruent with this identity become reinforced.
The stronger this sense of self becomes the easier it is to perform the actions that are congruent with your new identity. Temptations are no longer temptations because they’re now out of character of who you are.
This is the secret.
Establishing the outcome and action goals are necessary but do not forget to contemplate about the type of person you decide to become.
Do not focus on what you’ll get but rather focus on who you’re becoming.
To solidify this new identity and belief you need to proving it to yourself. Any action you take no matter how big or small contributes to the solidification of your desired identity.
Resisting temptation is another form of a win. Imagine you always went to McDonald’s for lunch during work but you know it’s not congruent with who you are anymore so you can gently say no to your habitual craving for it and end up choosing a healthier lunch.
In my eyes, that’s another win!
It's important to understand that when you adopt a new identity you will most often have to let go of your old identity and beliefs that are holding you back. Know what to let go of.
Who are you and what do you believe about yourself and the world?
Then the results will come and stay.
PS: This concept of identity based goals I got from Jame Clear, in his book 'Atomic Habits', which I'd highly recommend. You can read the excerpt from his book about identity based goals here.