Achieve Your New Year Goals by Aligning Them With Your Desired Identity

identity and new year goalsGood intentions aren’t enough to ensure the achievement of your New Year’s goals. If they were, more people would make good on their intentions. But, instead, only about eight percent of those who set goals in December actually achieve them. And the reason why is simple: On January 1, they possess the same identity as they had on December 31.

You can’t set new goals and expect to achieve them if you don’t change your identity, too. After all, you must be the type of person who can achieve those goals.

So, before you set goals, decide who you want to be in the New Year. Then, choose goals that correspond with that identity.

Or reverse the process if that seems more straightforward. Set goals, and then decide what type of person would be able to achieve them. With that clarity, choose to adopt that identity for yourself.

The Key to Goal Achievement

Beyond choosing meaningful goals, identity is the key to goal achievement. For example, consider someone who has the goal of quitting smoking in the New Year. If that person continues to see himself as a smoker, he will find it hard to quit and likely continue smoking.

However, suppose that same person decides to be a nonsmoker—and adopts that identity. In that case, he won’t smoke even if he gets the urge to pick up a cigarette. After all, a nonsmoker doesn’t smoke.

When your identity aligns with your goals, you’ll find it easy to achieve them. You become a person who naturally acts in a way that leads to your desired results.

You Decide Who to Be

Some people find the identity piece challenging because they haven’t been taught to choose an identity. But you can choose who to be…any time you like.

For example, my stepson changed his identity when we moved from Georgia to Illinois in the middle of his high school years. We thought he’d be upset, but instead, he was happy.

He said, “In a new school, I can reinvent myself. No one knows who I was before. So I can choose to be someone new.”

I wanted to be someone who wakes up when the alarm rings in the morning. My goal was to get out of bed and spend an hour on a morning routine. Since I adopted that identity, I’ve always woken up when the alarm goes off, and I have a morning routine, too.

So choose who you want to be in the New Year.

Create Your New Year

You might find creating a vision of your new identity challenging for a different reason. You only can see the future through your current identity.

To broaden your perspective, begin your goal-setting process by developing a vision for the New Year. In other words, imagine what you want your life to be like over the next 12 months. Once you can “see” your year, you can more easily determine who you need to be to create that year.

This is a “begin with the end in mind” process. First, write a New Year vision in the past tense, like composing a letter to someone on December 31, 2022 (rather than 2021). Then, imagine every aspect of your life as you would like it to be 12 months from now.

Choose Your New Year Identity First

With that vision in mind, determine who you would need to be to experience the year you envisioned. What type of person would have lived that life and accomplished those things?

That’s who you need to be to achieve your goals. So, describe that person. For instance, would you be tenacious, courageous, or healthy? Might you be a writer, marathon runner, or nonsmoker?

Start with Your Goal in Mind

However, you also can start this process with goal setting. That’s how most people approach their New Year planning. They simply make a list of goals and assume they will figure out how to achieve them. They might even plan the steps to goal achievement, but none of this ensures success.

Instead, with your vision in mind, ask yourself what goals you’d have achieved during the year you described year. Go ahead and make a list of them. Then—and this is where the process differs—ask yourself who you have to be to achieve them.

Then, choose that identity. Become that person. Show up in that manner. And watch how you almost magically take actions that lead to achieving those goals.

Two Options, Same Result

To reiterate, you have two options for how to approach this identity-based New Year’s goal-setting exercise. Each has four steps.

Option 1:

  1. Create a vision for the New Year.
  2. Choose an identity that helps you create your desired year.
  3. Set goals that align with your identity and help you create your desired year.
  4. Take actions that align with your identity and goals.

Option 2:

  1. Create a vision for the New Year.
  2. Set goals that align with your identity and help you create your desired year.
  3. Choose an identity that helps you create your desired year and achieve your goals.
  4. Take actions that align with your identity and goals.

Notice that the only difference between the two options is whether you set goals or choose an identity first. But either option will do the trick.

Try this New Year’s goal-setting process, and see how it works. And be sure to come back and comment. I’d love to hear about your results.

Who do you choose to be in the New Year? Tell me below, and, please, share this post with your friends.


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Photo courtesy of anyaberkut.

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