Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a reflection of the type of person that you believe you are. To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself." James Clear
What I love about the New Year is that it’s a time of reflection. Who were we last year? How did we feel? Did the last year have repeats of lessons we should have learned – things we knew were good or not so good for us but we did it anyway? After an honest assessment of how things went down, we can get clear about how this year will be different. A clean canvas where we can paint our future. What does this person look like? How do they feel? And what do they do?
Usually this comes in the form of New Years Resolutions. Resolutions, or as I like to call them intentions tend towards “self improvement” -- I want to lose 5 kilos, exercise more, or drink less wine, eat less sweets. As a yoga teacher, starting January 1, I see a dramatic flood of new and returning students practicing their upward dogs and in line at the bio store for fresh green juices. These numbers dwindle by week 2 of January, even more by week 3. I read a Forbes article recently that stated only 8% of people achieved their resolution. Only 72% of people even make it through the first week, and by one month, the numbers dwindle to a little over half. Why is this? Why is it so hard to make choices that we know make us feel happier, healthier, and more generally kick ass? I think it is the language we use around changing habits and intentions.
Let's look at some common resolutions – losing weight and exercising more. Both are outcomes… i.e. I want to fit into a certain pair of pants or look a certain way in the mirror. I understand the desire for the outcome. Who doesn’t want to feel awesome in their body? But I think there is something missing in this equation.. For habits to stick, we have to look at identity shifts.
I have a student who is an ultra marathon runner. She has a running regime that she sticks to – beginning with what she does before her morning run, how she eats to prepare for her long/medium and short sprint runs and how the week routine fits into her training schedule for her next event. She doesn’t wake up and wonder, hmm, should I run today? She doesn’t have to!! She has set up all of the steps to make it happen every day without having to rely on willpower or whim. She thinks like a runner and has the identity of a runner and her daily habits are centered around this identity.
I am not “good at yoga” because I kick into some handstands when I feel like it. I do it every day. Whether I want to or not. And I do the same thing every day to signal the practice will begin. I roll out my mat. I put my phone on silent. I find the right playlist and decide in advance how long I am committing to be there. I shop where the yogis shop and eat where the yogis eat. I am surrounded by the posse of people who keep me on my path.
Whatever habit you want to create or ditch, whether it is running more, eating better, or stressing less, there is an identity shift that has to happen for the habit to actually stick. If you want to be a runner, how do you think like a runner? What time does a runner wake up? how do they plan their runs in with their work days? how to they eat? If you want to stress less, what does an easeful person look like? what habits do they have when they wake up or go to bed? how do they handle conflict? what keeps them even-keeled when work or home life gets hard? Lean into the person you want to become, experiment every day with following their habits, and keep doing so until you become what seemed to be outside of you. You become the kind of person who wakes up with the shoes by the door and are off and running right after waking. You become the person who unwinds from work by setting a daily timer on the phone to remind us to take a few deep breaths and meditate for a few minutes. You shift from being the person who smokes socially when his friends at work to a person who instead bonds with his peeps on a nice daily walk in the fresh.Once we shift the habits to be totally automated and not up to willpower or whim, we change into the kick ass version of ourselves that was always there.
If you are revisiting your New Years Intentions, ask yourself, who do I want to become? Write that shit down! It can look something like this..
I am a person who ......
I am a person that.....
Thanks for reading my newsletter. If you made it this far, you must have (at least kind of) enjoyed it. ;) If you want to explore how you can create awesome changes in your own health and wellness see below:
I am very happy to announce that I am offering my pilot health coaching course Align to Thrive February 28-May 2, 2017 with both in person work in Munich, Germany and virtually. The course will involve in-person lectures, dynamic group work (with fun self-care props), and group and individual laser coaching calls to help you achieve what you want in your body, mind and spirit….whether that is developing a daily exercise or meditation practice, getting more and better quality sleep, losing those kilos without dieting, or taking better care of yourself generally so you relate to yourself and the world with more ease. This course will be heavily discounted from my later courses, so get in now!