How to Set Your New Year's Identity Up and Running
A Simple Shortcut to Crafting a New Story of You
I think that people are no more than a collection of stories: the stories that you’re told, the stories that you tell, and the stories that are told about you. You can’t control the stories that you’re told, and you can’t control the stories that are told about you. But you can absolutely control the story that you tell the world and that you tell yourself.
It’s the new year, time for resolutions and new habits. James Clear’s Atomic Habits is the gold standard for how to break tired habits and develop better ones. It’s an incontrovertible system that abides by fundamental laws that ring true. Tactics help and strategies guide the way, but systems deliver the results every day.
Here’s one simple cheat code for building a system to your new habit. And it involves Jeffers’ concept of humans as collections of stories.
Because we are the stories that we tell ourselves, and these types of stories are the only ones we have control over, it stands to reason: if we can change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, we can fundamentally change ourselves. So how do we change the stories we tell ourselves?
A good story is based on our feelings, long-held and hard-earned. A good story sticks with us, regardless of the facts. If I bring facts to rebut your story, they will fail… unless the facts I bring are the foundation for a new story.
If we’ve never been a runner, we have a story about ourselves: I’m not a runner, I’m someone who doesn’t run, who can’t run. If we’ve had troubles keeping a meditation practice, despite all the evidence of the clear merits of one, we have a story about ourselves: I’m not a meditator, meditation is not for me, it doesn’t work on me.
Whatever it is: the belief and mindset that keeps us from doing and being the thing we want for ourselves is based in the story we have grown to tell ourselves about ourselves.
So the solution: write a new story. Believe this new story. There’s an old adage somewhere that it takes 21 days of a new habit to make that new habit a part of your identity. I call bullshit. All it takes is enough success at doing the new thing to make you believe the new story about yourself. Meditate for three straight days, and tell yourself: I’m someone who meditates day after day after day. Go run for 20 minutes. While you’re stretching, tell yourself: I’m someone who needs to stretch out from running. Do it just enough that it becomes fact. Tell yourself the fact enough that it becomes your story.
Once it’s your story, your new identity is up and running.