Why Identity Based Goals Are Key to Your Success

Setting Goals. That’s what the successful do, right?

Whether it be losing weight, increasing income or purchasing our dream car. The experts tell us to set a clear goal, you know something that’s measurable and timely. It should also be realistic and attainable…and don’t forget specific. These rules of goal setting form what many of us know as SMART Goals.

I’m not going to talking about SMART Goals today. I personally don’t do well with them. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past several years and one thing I don’t do anymore is set performance-type goals. These are goals like:

  • Lose 20 pounds by November 30th
  • Increase income by $10k per year in 2015
  • Schedule 208 dates per year with my family (I really tried this and failed. Wife & 3 kids = 4 people x 52 weeks = 208 dates)

No more performance-based goals for me.

I’ve almost bailed on all goal setting like blogger Leo Babauta has done, but I have opted for another option which seems to fit me well.

Ask a Better Question

When thinking about our own personal development and achievement we often ask, “What do I want to accomplish?” Then, the rules of performance-based goal setting are implemented, we create action items and give ourselves due dates and off we go…to conquer the world.

The better question to ask is “Who do I want to be?”

The key to creating lasting change in our lives comes down to changing our identity. In other words, what we believe about ourselves. We are told several times each day by the media, our peers and the voices in our heads that we are fat, undisciplined and broke. These voices become the soundtrack of our lives and in turn we believe them.

The voices cause us to give up, or in many cases never begin the pursuit of building a stronger life.

If we want to change our lives we need to change how we view ourselves.

Just as these negative voices pound the wrong message into our heads several times each day, we need to be intentional about sending the right messages to ourselves.

“Who do I want to be?”  When I look ahead and see the ideal me, what does he look like? What does she sound like? What will winning look like?

Set Identity-Based Goals

Starting with the right question, “Who do I want to be?” we are able to change the way we set a goal.

Here’s an example:

If I have a workshop I want to get people to in a month I could easily set a performance-based goal like “get 50 people signed up by November 15th.”

An identity-based goal, one that deals with who I am deep down (which is where the lasting change comes from) may look like this: “I’m the type of guy who never misses an opportunity to talk about my event and invite someone to join me.”

It’s a goal based upon what you believe about yourself. What you believe about yourself will always come to be.

Here are a couple of more examples:

Performance-Based: Lose 20 pounds

Identity-Based: I’m the type of woman that never misses a workout.

Performance-Based: Increase income by $10k in 2015

Identity-Based: I always work my high priority tasks first each day.

Performance-Based: Get out of debt in 2 years

Identity-Based: I am a person who never spends more than I make.

We become who we believe we are. If you want to create lasting change in who you are the first step is to set identity-based goals.

The Brilliancy of The Seinfeld Method

Step 2 comes from Jerry Seinfeld. It’s a well documented fact that The Seinfeld Method was a technique he used to become one of the greatest comics of our time.

He believed in order to be a better comic you need to tell better jokes. Better jokes came from writing more jokes. He chose to be “the type of guy who wrote jokes everyday.”

He shared how he then went out and purchased a large wall calendar that had all 365 days of the year showing. He took a red marker and made an X on every day he wrote a joke. Seinfeld went on to say how good it felt when he saw the chain of X’s on the wall, because it meant he was implementing what needed to be done.

Most strong things are built over long periods of time. A strong bank account is built by adding a little each week. A strong business is built by adding one happy client each day. Strong health is built by…you guessed it…daily implementing little changes that over time amount to huge results.

Jerry Seinfeld chose to be “a guy who wrote jokes every day.” He also chose to not break the chain of red X’s on the wall. He was building the habit of being a daily joke writer. Habits are built little by little over time (positive & negative habits).

The brilliancy of The Seinfeld Method is that it never requires anyone to go from 0-90 in a day. All it ask’s is that you make a commitment to not break the chain of little things. And, if you do break the chain you just start a new chain.

Personal Development Coaching for a Guy Who’s Unsure of His Goals

Recently, a client of mine mentioned he was having a hard time setting a specific goal. His life is good. His business is good. He wants to get in better shape but can’t get motivated to ‘choose on specific goal’ to pursue. He’d been developing the habit of working out each day, but really didn’t have a goal. This is a pretty common problem.

I asked him to reframe the question…

“What type of guy do you want to be?” 

After, much discussion he came up with a few possible personal mantras for where he’s at now. Things like, “I’m the type of guy who gets a little stronger each day,” and “I am a guy who never misses a chance to play big” came up. I’m not sure what he’ll land on but I know it will be right for him.

Take the first option above, “I’m the type of guy who gets a little stronger each day.”  Think that wouldn’t have a positive impact in his whole life…not just the working out stuff?

I picture him standing before his large wall calendar at the end of the day asking himself, “What did I do to get a little stronger today?”

Did he workout for 7 minutes or 7 hours? Red X

Did he educate himself at a seminar? Red X

Did he spend uninterrupted time with his kid? Red X

It’s not hard to see how every area of his life can get stronger by simply setting the right type of goal and not breaking the chain.

Who do you want to be? I challenge you to think hard about that question and then set your own identity-based goal, purchase a calendar and red marker and start taking steps today.

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