With the new year just around the corner, many people turn their attention to goal setting and making resolutions. That’s awesome, but most of those who go through this annual exercise don’t achieve their goals or keep their resolutions. So, I’d like to propose a new approach: Focus your attention on who you need to be to get the results you desire in the new year.
You see, the ability to do anything requires that you be the type of person who can tackle that activity or behavior successfully. So, start the year with a focus on who you need to be—who you need to become—to do what you want in the next 12 months.
Be that Person Now
For instance, I have talked about getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button for years—but I didn’t manage to accomplish that goal. I said I wanted to become an “early morning person,” but being that person wasn’t who I was; therefore, the resolution was soon forgotten.
I kept hitting the snooze button…every single weekday morning. As a result, I would lose the 45 minutes I hoped to use for a morning routine.
Several months ago, I decided to be the type of person who would get up when the alarm went off. And I committed to never hitting the snooze button since someone who gets up early with an alarm would never do that.
The first day, it was super hard. My mind said, “Hit the snooze button!” I reminded myself that I did not want to continue being a person who hit the snooze button, so I turned off the alarm and got up. That was the day my identity began to shift.
Now, I am a person who gets up when the alarm goes off. I have 45 minutes on weekday mornings to meditate, exercise, and journal before heading to the shower or my desk.
I kept my resolution and achieved my goal.
5 Steps to Embodying Your New Identity
So how will you begin to embody your new identity? Follow these five steps.
1. Identify your goals and resolutions.
Just list our new year goals and resolutions. There is no need to go into a lengthy planning process.
If you are wondering what the difference is between a goal and a resolution, here’s a simple way to distinguish one from the other:
- A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It’s a promise to yourself and more open-ended than a goal. Typically, resolutions involve altering some aspect of yourself or your life.
- A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort—the result. Consider a goal to be a quantifiable target outcome achieved in a specific timeframe.
2. Answer this question: What type of person would achieve these goals?
You may know people who have achieved the same goal or kept their annual promises to themselves. If so, use them as an example. If not, imagine the type of person who could do and have what you desire in the new year.
- Describe their qualities or characteristics, including their personality, behavior, mindset, etc.
- What are their beliefs?
- How do they speak to themselves and others?
- What are their values?
- What do they do or how do they behave?
3. Answer this question: How like or unlike this person are you?
Although it’s true that comparison leads to unhappiness, this step has little to do with actual comparison. Your job is to identify the traits you need to adopt—the ones you do not yet possess or need to strengthen—to get the result you desire or keep your promise to yourself. Make a list of them.
4. Plan to change.
This is the only planning step in this process. Now, identify the actions you, as your new identity, will take to be the person you want to be.
For instance, if you want to be someone who gets up at 5 a.m. every day when the alarm rings—no snoozing, how will you do that? What strategy will get you out of bed when the alarm goes off? You could put the alarm across the room, requiring you to get out of bed to turn it off. Or you might decide that when you hear the alarm you will say to yourself, “I am a person who wakes up early!” or “I get to wake up now and do my life’s work!”
5. BE like that person.
Now it’s time to step into a new identity—one that aligns with what you want to do and have in the new year. Commit to being the type of person who can achieve your goals and keep your resolutions. Follow the plan you created in the previous step.
This requires that you embody that identity. There is no “fake it until you make it” here. You just make it. Be the type of person who gets the desired results and has self-integrity. Show up as that person.
How to Know if You will Follow Through
If you want to know if you will follow through on your goals and resolutions, answer these additional questions:
Does who you want to become now align with how you see yourself in the future?
Are your goals or resolution relevant to who you want to be in three months, six months, or a year? If those results and promises don’t relate to who you see yourself being and what you see yourself doing over the long-term, you’ll struggle to change your results.
Does being this person provide you with intrinsic and extrinsic value?
Will your chosen identity allow you to express your passions, do things you enjoy, feel proud, and contribute meaningfully? These intrinsic rewards will help you succeed. Would you be this person and attempt to accomplish your new year goals and resolutions regardless of money, status, recognition, or power, which are extrinsic rewards? If so, then your chances of getting the results you desire are great.
Will taking on this new identity be too costly?
If transforming yourself into the person who can do what you desire causes you to lose out on essential things, you won’t keep your resolutions or take consistent action toward your goals. Thus, it’s important to evaluate if you think the changes will cost too much time, energy, effort, resources, and willpower needed elsewhere. If you believe it will, you’ll find the changes challenging.
Can you step into this new identity and enjoy the results quickly?
We live in an instant-gratification world. Thus, we give up quickly when something takes too long—including achieving a goal. If you believe it will take a long time to become a person who can achieve the results you desire, you will give up before making real headway.
If you were already this type of person, could you take action on your own?
If you believe you will need additional support or help, that could stop you in your tracks. Suppose you feel you can do what is necessary independently. In that case, there is no reason you can’t make progress toward and get results.
Will people support you in becoming the type of person who can achieve your goals or keep your resolutions?
Often we don’t do what we say we want to do because we don’t feel supported by others or we are afraid of being judged negatively. That’s when transformation efforts fail. If you have even one cheerleader to support your efforts, stepping into your best self and taking action becomes much easier.
Do you believe you have the ability to become a person who can do the things you want to do?
If deep down you doubt your ability to change or you think you don’t have the skill, will, time, energy, or focus to stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals, you will fail. Your self-talk will stop you in your tracks…every time. You have to trust and believe in yourself. And you must feel you have the ability to make decisions and take action without permission from someone else.
You Can Achieve Your Goals and Keep Your Resolutions
Your answers to the question above might lead you to believe you can’t change—that you can’t be a person with the ability to achieve your goals and stick to your resolutions. But you can still step into that identity and get the results you desire.
Strategize how to change your answers. For instance, how can you reduce the cost of stepping into your new identity? Or how can you feel more autonomous about your decisions, get people to support you, change your self-talk, or get faster results? If you look for solutions, you’ll find them. Then, commit to implementing them.
Do whatever is necessary to be the person who can achieve your goals and keep your resolutions. That’s how you move closer to achieving your desired results. Once you live as that new identity, you can do and have whatever you desire.
Who do you need to be to achieve your goals and keep your resolutions in the new year? Tell me in a comment below, and please share this post with a friend or two.
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Photo courtesy of Molly Belle.