So how did it go? Were you able to get something down on paper in terms of your WHY? If you didn’t read last week’s post, head there now and read how to write a WHY statement.
It is not an easy task – it may seem a bit clunky and not quite the way you want to be. That is OK. Like everything else in life – this is a PROCESS. You will work to continually refine and break down your WHY for years to come. You will re-work it and find the phrasing and wording that seems to fit and resonate with you. The more you focus and reflect on whether you are living by your WHY, the better you will articulate your WHY on a day-to-day basis.
The reason this process is so difficult:
I like to compare this to when you meet someone for the first time. You may have a brief or lengthy conversation and afterward, you might say to your friend, ‘I really liked that guy, I am not sure why but I liked him.’ Or the opposite, ‘there was something about him. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there is something I don’t like.’
We often struggle to articulate our ‘gut’ feelings. This is because feelings and language are occurring in two different areas of the brain – that don’t really communicate with one another. Our feelings or instincts (the ‘trust your gut’ sensation) comes from our primal brain. This part of the brain developed well before our modern brain or the prefrontal cortex where our language centre resides as well as our executive functioning and decision-maker lives. This is the part of the brain that separates us from the animals.
Since these two parts of the brain developed at separate times, they never developed proper neuronal communication pathways. So when you ‘have a feeling’ or your ‘gut is telling you something’ but you can’t describe it… your primal and modern brain aren’t communicating. You can’t put that feeling into words. Unfortunately, over time we don’t develop that neuronal connection – we must learn it.
The more we reflect on our thoughts and feelings, the better we will get at recognizing familiar feelings and be able to say, ‘ahh I am feeling anxiety right now because I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.’ Or I am feeling, ‘disappointment because I didn’t reach my goal.’ Does that make sense?
I have to once again digress, but I like to provide you with a firm foundation and understanding as to why some of this stuff is so challenging. A lot of it is biology that we have no control over but we can get better at working with and understanding it. So in terms of our WHY we all are innately living by it on a day to day basis without even realizing it. Because it is being run by our primal brain. So articulating it into words is difficult because again our primal brain is not communicating with our modern brain.
So now that you have articulated your WHY, it’s time to start creating identity-based goals. It is time to begin creating a goal-less mindset. So I want you to think about – who do you want to become? Do you want to be someone who runs every day? Or eats a salad every day? Who is it that you want to be?
Instead of thinking about “I want to run a marathon”, or “I will eat this particular diet for 3 months”, or “lose 30 pounds” – which are all outcome-based goals… I want you to think in terms, “I want to become a runner.” “I want to become a salad eater, or a gym-goer.’
Here is an example of outcome-based versus identity-based goals:
I want to run a marathon
I want to become a runner
I want to eat [this particular diet] for 3 months
I want to eat a delicious salad every day
I want to lose 30 pounds
I want to become a gym-goer
I want to be able to complete 20 pushups
How many pushups is my body capable of?
I want to look good [for my next amazing vacation].
I want to be someone who loves to exercise daily, even on vacation.
When you have landed on some identity statements you are looking to achieve, we next need to look at THE PROCESS. The best way to look at a process is to ask yourself.
“What would someone who is a salad eater do?”
Well…they would probably go grocery shopping and ensure they always have veggies in the house. So you can start to structure goals around that. I want to go to the grocery store 2x/week to ensure I have veggies in the home to make a salad. GREAT. Now the salad eater has the veggies in the home, what would be the next thing they do? Well, they may chop up all their veggies the night before or morning of and ensure they have a salad packed for their lunch or veggies ready for dinner.
Same thing for someone who is a runner. The first thing a runner would probably do is ensure they have a great pair of runners. So they would go out and buy some runners. Next, a runner might schedule times to go running, etc.
Do you see what I am saying? You start small and begin to build towards the identity you want to create. Now someone might have multiple identities like “I want to be a gym-goer, a reader, a gardener, etc.” Fundamentally, each of those identities will distill down to your overall WHY.
I want to read to expand my knowledge so I can share it with the people around me to help them grow and gain intellectual knowledge. Or I want to garden so I have fresh veggies available for my family to be nourished. Everything comes down to our WHY or inner purpose. We all innately live by it. The better we understand it the more successful we can become in terms of changing and modifying our habits.
What is your identity? Who do you want to become?