If you’ve read more than one post on my blog, you’ve probably realized that I’m a goal setter. You may have also realized that I’m not always a goal-achiever, but I don’t care, and instead embrace the process. I’m always trying to figure out what didn’t work, and why, and find new ways to help me get to where and who I want to be.
One thing I’ve realized is that sometimes (often) when we set goals, the outcome of our goal is at odds with who we currently are. We want to be a runner, but we’re currently a couch potato. We want to be a millionaire, but we’re also a fashionista who wears only the hottest (and most expensive) brand names. We want to spend more time with friends and family, but we take great pride in being considered a workaholic. We want one thing, but we currently identify as the exact opposite.
And in the battle of goals vs. identity, who wins?
Identity, every time, hands down.
Identity is defined as the combination of qualities, beliefs, and personality that make a person who they are. We each hold pretty tightly to our identities- and so we should, because it’s really the only thing we can truly claim as our own. But this tight hold can make goal setting difficult, and this is something that we often overlook.
When was the last time you thought about your identity while you were setting goals and making plans? We often think change is just about shifting or adopting a behaviour, but that’s not always the case. It can also mean going against a core part of who you are, or who you perceive yourself to be. And that, my friends, can be really, really hard.
Most of the time, when we try to be something, someone, different, nothing happens. We might last for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but then we put the costume back in the closet and go back to being who we used to be- who we are. The fashionista reappears and demands we buy that expensive pair of shoes. The workaholic looks at their to-do list, and cancels plans with their friends- again. And no one is surprised in the least.
We’re not all destined to fail at making change forever though. That’s certainly not what I’m here to say. Instead, I want us all to realize that setting goals is about more than just deciding what we want to be or do. It’s about deciding who we want to be, and then committing to that identity. Wearing it every day. Not shedding it when the going gets tough. “Faking it until you’re making it.”
Before you set a new goal, figure out how that goal fits within your identity. Before you set out to create a new identity, be sure that you are willing to let go of the old one. And once you know who you want to be- be unapologetically you.
This post is in lieu of a February update.