Recently I talked about the importance of finding your why as it pertains to goal attainment. As the saying goes, when you find your WHY, you will figure out the HOW.
So let’s say you’ve taken the time to find your why but you’re still feeling like you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to achieving your health and fitness-related goals. What should you do next?
When all of the fluff is stripped away, we find that every meaningful goal comes from who you think you are (your identity) and what’s important to you (your values and priorities). I have found that there is a lot of confusion as to what this means, so allow me to take a minute and break it down.
Let’s start with identity. Whenever we make any decision or choice, we start from the same deep place – our sense of self or who we think we are. Essentially, how and what we think of ourselves often determines what happens next.
For example, here are a couple of common “identity” examples I hear quite often:
- “I’m a busy person.”
- “I like to have a good time.”
- “I take care of everyone else.”
Taken by themselves, these examples are neither good nor bad. The deciding factor is what they mean to you and how you choose to apply them. Let’s examine each of these in a negative and then positive light.
What effect might these identity statements have on the outcome of your goals?
- “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time to plan, prep, and prepare healthy meals at home.”
- “I like to have a good time. I’m not able to get to bed at a decent hour.”
- “I take care of everyone else. There isn’t enough time in the day for me to exercise.”
Now compare the above to the following:
- “I’m a busy person. My time management and organizational skills are top-notch.”
- “I like to have a good time. Getting good sleep is essential so I can continue to play at 100%.”
- “I take care of everyone else. But I take care of myself first, because in doing so I’m better able to take care of everyone else.”
Exact same statements. Two entirely different ways to perceive and act on them. Who do you think will be more successful?
When you’re on the outside looking in as I tend to be, it’s not hard to see those struggling with their sense of identity. Comments like “I’m fat” or “I could never be a fit person” said repeatedly over one’s lifetime can be damaging in many ways and for many reasons.
Yes, there are certain individuals who can use this as fuel and propel themselves to success, but they seem to be the exception to the rule. More often, it just leads to more of the unwanted behavior.
For much of my life, I identified as that of a runner. Early on I realized that not only was I good at it but I enjoyed it too. I thought like one, ate like one, lived like one… I was one, in every way imaginable.
When I think back to my college years, it was not that of a college student. It was as a cross-country and track runner. Most of my choices and decisions were based on this and this alone. Yes, it did serve me well at the time. And yes, I did have many great opportunities and experiences that I would otherwise not have had.
However, unless I was good enough to make a living at it (which I was not), there came a point where something would need to change. For many years this was very difficult to sort out and process because I realized I was letting who I was at the time – interfere with who I needed to be – in order to get to where I currently wanted to go.
So ask yourself, does your identity – who you think you are, help you succeed when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals?
This can be hard, so to get a better understanding of your identity, try completing the following statements:
- I’m the kind of person who…
- People who know me would say…
- I want to be known as…
- Co-workers would describe me as…
- If I were to draw a picture of myself, it would like…
Next time I’ll talk about the next two pieces – your values and priorities and how those fit into the puzzle.