Identity-based habits – How to actually reach your goals in life

Your brain has a blueprint for the world around you. A blueprint that’ll shape how you live your life. If you believe people are kind, you’ll meet kind people. If you believe that people only come into your life to take advantage of you, you’ll meet people who will take advantage of you. The same is true for how you view yourself and your potential. This is what makes identity-based habits and goals so powerful.

Below we’ll have a look at what identity-based habits are, how habits affect your personality, some examples, and how you can use them to improve your life.

The key takeaways from the post about identity-based habits and how you can use identity-based goals to build better habits
Identity-based habits – sum up

What are identity-based habits?

Identity-based habits are behaviors you do because of who you are. Most of these behaviors will come easy to you as you’re not trying to change or be someone else. You’re simply trying to be the person you know yourself to be.

If you see yourself as an athlete, you’ll find exercising natural, and creating that habit will be easy. Eating the right things, getting enough sleep and rest, and other behaviors you connect to the identity will follow.

If you consider yourself lazy, you’ll find that being inactive, eating unhealthy food, procrastinating, and many other bad habits will come easier to you. Even if you want to change that.

Can you have more than one habit identity?

You most likely have multiple identities. They might change depending on who you’re with and what you’re doing.

Someone who considers themselves an athlete might think that they’re lazy in every other part of their life. They exercise and eat healthily but procrastinate when they have to study.

If you see yourself as having a negative identity, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your habits. We’ll have a look at how further down.

How habits shape your identity

Your identity shapes your habits. But your habits can also shape your identity.

Every time you do something that goes against your identity, you’ll remove a small part of the blueprint your brain has created for who you are. If you continue to do this enough times, you’ll create a new identity for yourself.

You might not consider yourself to be a reader yet, but you begin to create the habit of reading. Slowly, as the habit is formed, you go against the blueprint. You can overwrite it and create a new identity. This identity can be a reader, and it gets easier to keep the habit.

When you create a new habit that begins to change your identity, it’ll become easier to create other good habits to confirm this new identity.

Related: How to use keystone habits to make change easy

Examples of identity-based habits

Let’s have a look at some examples of identity-based habits.

You identify as a reader

As you identify as a reader there’ll be no friction when you create the habit of reading. Reading will be more enjoyable and easier to maintain.

You identify as a good student

If you identify as a good student, you’ll be more likely to show up to lessons on time, study, and hand assignments in on time.

You identify as someone with insomnia

If you identify as someone with insomnia, you’ll find it harder to create a good bedtime routine, and you’ll struggle to fall asleep.

You identify as someone lonely

If you identify as someone lonely, you’ll find it hard to approach people. When people do approach you, you’ll find it harder to let them in.

Related: How to find your hidden habits

How identity-based goals can help you create the right habits

Identity-based goals are goals you have for a new identity you want to create. Of who you’d like to become.

It can be hard to figure out which habits will help you reach your goals. But if your goal is to become a specific type of person, it will be easier to find behaviors that will shape this new identity.

When you have an identity-based goal, you can use this goal to see if habits match this persona. You can do this by asking yourself:

Would a _____ do this? (Fill in the blank with your identity-based goal)

If the persona would do it, it’s most likely a good habit that can lead you towards your goal. If the answer was no, you probably shouldn’t do it.

A picture showing how to determine if a habit is good or bad, based on identity-based habits
How to determine if a habit is good

How to use identity-based habits to improve yourself

Identity-based habits are great for self-improvement but aren’t some easy fix to achieve overnight success. It might be tempting to identify yourself as an entrepreneur or an athlete from day one, but that rarely works. If your current identity is far from your goal, the difference will be too big. It’ll be difficult to convince yourself and maintain the new lifestyle.

The following steps can help you reach your identity-based goals, no matter how far you are away from them now. You might find that not all of these are relevant to you. That’s okay. Use those that are helpful, and ignore the rest.

Find your identity-based goal

Before you can work with identity-based goals, you have to know what you want to achieve. What is your goal? What type of person would do this? Be as specific as possible here. The better you understand this identity, the easier it’ll be to form the right habits.

Another approach is to break your goal down into sub-goals. Instead of identifying as an entrepreneur, you might identify yourself as a writer first. With this approach, you can create several smaller identities. When they come together, you become who you want to be.

Related: How to start and use a goal journal

Break the goal down to identity-based habits

When you know what you want, it’s time to find the right habits to help you get there. Which behaviors are necessary for you to reach your goal? Which habits does your future identity have? List all those that come to your mind here.

If your goal is to become an athlete, you list might contain habits such as:

  • Weight lifting
  • Cardio
  • Stretching
  • Meal prepping / following a meal plan
  • A bedtime routine
  • Studying your sport

Start small and be patient

At this point, you probably have a list of identity-based habits. It might be tempting to try and form them all at once, but that’s a sure way to fail.

Start by looking for the behaviors on your list which are most aligned with your current identity. These will be the habits that are the easiest for you to form. Slowly work your way through the list by creating the habits, one by one.

Start small and work yourself up to become who you dream about being. Remember, great people didn’t become great overnight. They became great by constantly improving through many small changes.

Related: The best habits for improving yourself

Sum up

Identity-based habits are behaviors you do because of who you think you are. If a behavior fits your identity, it’ll be easier to make into a habit.

You can use identity-based goals to find the best habits for you to create. Ask yourself, ” Would a _____ do this?” If the answer is yes, the behavior fits your identity-based goal.

Identity-based habits are a great way for you to improve yourself. Think of the habits your dream identity would have. Slowly implement them one by one. Soon, it won’t just be a dream anymore.

What to read next

Habits- A simple guide to self-improvement with better habits

Good habits – How to effectively build healthier habits

Habit tracking – How to make good habits stick easily