Nothing fit. Not well anyway. I didn’t like the way I looked. I didn’t like the way I felt — but that wasn’t really anything new. So what was so different about today?
There was no major event. No super embarrassing moment or crisis. I didn’t hit rock bottom. But something had changed.
I was done.
Fast forward 102 days and I had lost 33 pounds and felt great. But why? What made me so much more determined to get after it, lose the weight and keep it off?
It was like a switch had been flipped and all of a sudden it became possible. No, not possible;
It became inevitable!
At another point in my life, my wife and I were $80,000 in debt. Yeah. Not proud of it, but there we were. We largely tried to ignore it hoping, I don’t know, maybe it would just disappear.
I honestly don’t remember when things changed but at some point we both decided enough was enough. Again, no flashpoint. No car repossession or home foreclosure or anything like that. The constant calls from creditors and our failing attempts at juggling our consumer debt between credit cards just eventually got us to the point where we’d had enough.
Our attitude had to change from thinking about our available balance as spending money up for grabs to an obligation we would have to repay. After a lot of hard work, selling off a bunch of stuff, and learning not to give in to our every impulse to buy, we became completely debt free except for the mortgage on our house.
These are just a couple times when the switch was flipped and I was able to make significant changes. It’s almost like I became a different person… and effectively I did!
That’s what’s at the center of this whole thing. Identity.
Even before the change becomes realized, the identity transformation has to happen in your mind. You have to decide that your current reality doesn’t line up with who you truly are.
As long as I view what I’m trying to become as an aspirational identity, I’m really only dreaming. It’s only when I’m able to flip that on its head and think of that improved version of myself as my true identity that I can get to work.
If I view myself as a fat, broke man, guess what, I’ll stay a fat broke man. Going against who I believe I am creates cognitive dissonance. It’s a super uphill battle and likely, it just won't happen.
Flipping the switch means flipping the script in my head.
As long as I associate the current state I’m in with who I am, even incremental change is all but impossible. But once I see my behavior as being at odds with who am I at the core, course correcting becomes natural, almost easy!
It’s so much easier to act in a way that is consistent with who I believe myself to be than to try and behave in a way that aligns with someone I wish I was.
If you think of yourself as an unhealthy person who wants to be healthy, when your willpower is high or the circumstance is just right you’ll do something healthy and the rest of the time you'll fall back to what feels natural - making unhealthy choices.
If instead you think of yourself as a healthy person who has made some unhealthy choices, you’ll opt for going on a run and grabbing a salad for lunch far more often.
If you, like me, are a follower of Christ this is even more the case! Our actions will align with his will for our lives to the degree that we believe our true identity is in him.
It is a powerful thing not to be forever stuck in your current state. No longer the passenger, or hapless victim at the mercy of everything around you, but an individual with some agency over your own life.
So what about you?
Take a minute and ask yourself this question:
What identity transformation needs to happen in my mind and heart to make the external transformation I’m after nearly effortless?
You can transform yourself if you clearly define who you want to be and start seeing yourself as that person. Then, get to work closing the gap.