Who are you?

Recently, I have taken a deeper dive to learn more about the concept of identity. I ponder my own identity and how it drives my actions.  To be honest, prior to last year, I didn’t think much about identity.

Simply, identity is how you view yourself as a person. Previously, I discussed the importance of focus, facts, and questions to become healthier. Each of these is intertwined with the concept of your identity. Do you view yourself as healthy? Fit? Smart? Good?

What you focus on, you become. Want to change who you are, change your focus. Don’t believe me?  Do you have a minute? For the next fifteen seconds look at everything around you that is brown. Be sure you look closely at EVERYTHING that is brown.  After you have done that, close your eyes and in the next 30 seconds identify everything around you that is green. How did you do? If you are like most, you missed much of the green. This happened because your focus was on the brown. After you opened your eyes, you probably saw a lot of green. You are who you say and believe you are – so focus on who want to be.

In a previous post, I mentioned the power of identity-based habits.  Prior to creating identity-based habits, you must have a clear identity to build the habits around. I will share personal stories about my identity. Additionally, I will share how failure to understand my identity, created challenges. 

A couple of things to consider before next time and an exercise. First, you choose your own identity. Second, your identity directs many of the outcomes in your life. Third, and this is the best part, you can change your identity and therefore many of the outcomes in your life.

Want to start now? First, decide what you want to be. When I looked at that picture in November 2020, I decided I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I wanted to be healthier. I want to be a person who lost weight. I wanted to be better. The second step is to take action on that decision. After you decide, take one action that moves you toward being the person you wish to become.

Increments and Stacking

Previously, I discussed big dreams and small changes. This approach works well for me. For example, a few weeks ago, I chose a word that to govern my year. It is a word that drives me every day. At the beginning of each day, I ask how will I live this word. At the end of each day, I ask how did I live this word. Some days I journal about it but most I do not. It is a small word that will lead to big achievements.

The word I chose is “growth.” By “growth”, I mean each day I must do something that expands and enlarges my human experience. This broad definition provides an easy path to success. Small daily victories turn into big changes. Growth includes many things. It includes the expansion of your knowledge about a topic or yourself. It includes trying a new food or recipe. It includes meeting new friends, reconnecting with old friends, or developing network opportunities. Perhaps it means running faster or farther than the previous day or week. Hopefully, these examples give you an idea of the limitless possibilities.

One thing I have done to embody this term is to make a minor change in my daily schedule. I already notice a big difference. What was the change? I changed when I exercise. In the past, I have exercised in the morning but usually after doing several things. For the past few years, I have regularly started my day up around 6 am. I still start my day at 6 AM. But now rather than drinking coffee, puttering around, and thinking about the day ahead, I spend the first 30 minutes on the treadmill (mostly walking but occasionally a slow jog). This small act makes a big difference in the flow of my day. While it was challenging at first, I now crave getting up and starting my day this way. I am excited to spend the first 30 minutes in physical exercise. After 30 minutes, I am halfway to my daily goal of 10,000 steps. Further, my head is clear and my energy is high.

In addition, while on the treadmill, I read. Most of the time I read on my iPad. I read the news, a book, or magazine articles. Occasionally, I clean out one of my email inboxes. If conditions permit me to walk outside, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Some call this multitasking. I call it stacking or temptation bundling. Temptation bundling is the combining of two activities into one. In true temptation bundling, you combine one activity that you should be doing but procrastinate on with another activity that you enjoy.

Read more about it here or in Katy Milkmans’s book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where you Are to Want to Be.

In the past, I have enjoyed reading but not enjoyed exercise. But I also get a bit impatient and anxious while reading. However, over time I have learned to enjoy both. Other experts call this stacking. Further, I do not feel as I am wasting time or being inefficient. I don’t feel as rushed in my life. After the activity, I have grown physically (improved my health) and intellectually (improved my mind). All this because I decided to make a small change which has resulted in a big change.

One final thing, when I started my weight-loss journey, I did a similar thing. I started early in the morning, drank coffee, and read articles on NOOM prior to doing anything else in the day. I found it set my focus for the day.

What small action can you take today that will change your life in a big way?

Dream Big – Act Small

For many, making major change in your life is difficult. I am sure there are studies on why this is. I haven’t researched this issue and can only tell you my opinion. Here is my advice – If you want to make a life change, you need to dream big and act small.

By dreaming big, you change your overall mindset and focus. Dreams and goals allow you to think about a different and better life. The larger the dream, the more the motivation. Example: It’s easier to get excited about a $50,000 raise and a $5000 raise. Both are nice but one is significantly better.

Yet, big dreams also create an uneasy feeling. Perhaps you think they are ridiculous or scary. Perhaps they are both. When I decided to lose over 50 pounds, I laughed. I wondered if I had finally lost it. (See what I did there?).

The power of big dreams is undeniable. Achieving big dreams is more challenging. It requires small incremental steps each day to move towards your goal. Small steps, each day add up over time. For instance, what if you wanted to save up $2,000 to buy something. Saving $5.47 per day would get you to your goal in one year. Breaking your goal down into small daily achievable increments, allows you to reach your goals.

Start today by setting a big goal. Then commit to small actions each day. Consider slowly expanding the small actions. Before you know it, you will have reached your big goal.

Weekend Thoughts

At the beginning of the year, I purchased two daily calendars: “Golf Tip-A-Day” and “YOU are a BADASS” One calendar provides inspiration, motivation, and guidance in life. The other calendar provides guidance for golf which is a hobby of mine in the summer.

Today, the comments appeared to intersect. One said “If it’s something you want to do, don’t wait until you’re less busy or richer or ‘ready’ or twenty pounds lighter. Start right now. You’ll never be this young again.”  The tile of the other is “Thinking of making a swing change?”  It advises that “If you are thinking of changing your swing, you should first make sure that you are doing the right thing.”  It goes on to caution that “[o]ften, change is difficult to accept as it may feel awkward and uncomfortable.” 

At first glance, the two appear to conflict with one saying act now and the other don’t act until you’re sure. Yet, a deeper analysis shows they complement each other. There is good advice in each. Here is my take. First, determine where you need to make a change and make the decision to change. Second, investigate the most effective way for you with the help of experts and/or people who made a similar change. Third, act and implement the change. Finally, understand that change is uncomfortable. Have a great weekend.

What questions are you asking?

One of my good friends is a philosopher. He doesn’t wear tweed, smoke a pipe, or work at Harvard. He is curious and inquisitive about many topics. Most conversations with him involve many questions. Often, he answers questions with a question. While this can be annoying, it forces one to think deeper. The questioning requires you to ask better questions.

If the answers are within, asking good questions yields good answers. Likewise, asking poor questions yields poor answers. For instance, if I ask “Why can’t I lose weight?” Neither the answer nor the question empower one to lose weight. But what if you ask “Why do I want lose weight?” My answer is to be healthy and happy. What if I ask another question? “Why do I want to be healthy and happy?” What if I kept asking questions based on my answers. When I did this, I ended with a powerful why and it lead me to how.

The better the question the better the answer. The more questions you ask, the better you get and asking questions. But I’m going to warn you, this process is challenging. It is frustrating. It’s easy to give up. However, if you keep at it, you will find the answers.

Further, if you can combine questions with identity-based habits, you are on your way to achieving what you want. Identity-based habits are discussed more fully by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. You can learn more here.

“Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are. The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader. The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician.” –

-Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Start today by asking better questions. What kind of person do you wish to become and why do you want to become that person? Once you answer those questions, spend the rest of the day living like the person you want to become.

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