We’re about to cross into the New Year, and you’re probably reflecting on the past year and what you want to create in 2024. I have an exercise I use with my clients at this time of year to help them show up and create success in the year ahead, and I’m sharing it with you today.
You can call upon the tool I’m bringing you today whenever you want to change your life. But as you look toward the year ahead, what do you want to create in 2024? How do you want things to be different for you this year? Whether it’s your health, work, relationships, or anything else, it’s time to show up for your goals in 2024.
Tune in this week to discover how to change your habits in the new year. I’m showing you the importance of your identity and who you believe you are, why taking actions that aren’t aligned with your self-identity isn’t a long-term solution, and you’ll learn how to show up for your goals and make changes that actually stick this year.
Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.
What You Will Discover:
- Why everything you do or don’t do is a reflection of your identity.
- The biggest mistakes I see people make when trying to create change in their lives.
- What happens when your actions aren’t aligned with who you believe you are as a person.
- The identity shift you need to make to achieve your goals in 2024.
- An exercise to give you clarity on who you want to be and how you want to show up in 2024.
- How to become someone who achieves their goals in 2024.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:
You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #79. If you’re thinking about what the year ahead has in store for you, let me help you get clear on how you want to show up.
Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.
Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, we are in the middle of winter break. Our kids are out of school. We’re in between Christmas and the New Year. It’s a fun time, but it’s also a busy time. I’m guessing you’re busy, too.
With that in mind, I’m bringing you just a little shorter episode today, that will take you through an exercise I often do with my clients. Given that it’s the end of the year, we’re about to flip a new calendar, many of you may be reflecting on what you want in the year ahead. Let me help you do that with a tool I’ve used loads and loads of times.
To be clear, you do not need to reserve this for only the New Year. Okay? This tool really applies to any time you’re looking to make a change in your life. But as you look toward the year ahead, you might be thinking about what you want for yourself. You might be thinking about how you want things to be different for you this year.
That could be related to anything in your life. Maybe you want to change your job and switch up your career altogether. Maybe you want to change up your lifestyle and start exercising. Maybe you want to start getting up early in the morning instead of snoozing through your alarm. Maybe you want to eat healthier and lose weight.
Whatever it is you want to do in the next year, I’m going to offer you this. Whatever change you’re looking to make, it starts with who you are, how you see yourself, and what you believe about yourself. Very simply, it starts with your identity, really. Think about it. Everything you do or don’t do is a reflection of your identity. Whatever you believe about yourself, you will then go out into the world and prove correct through your actions.
I know I’ve said that a number of times, but it’s because it’s so true. Many of us take this for granted. But think about it, whatever you believe about yourself to your core, you will go and take action to make that true. Thereby reinforcing that belief because we like to be right, and we especially like to be right about ourselves.
As an example, if you believe that you are lazy, which some of you have straight up told me this is what you believe about yourself. So, what happens? What happens is, you make it true. You make that belief come to life. Remember, that your thoughts and your words, they shape your world. What comes out of your mouth comes into your life.
So, if you identify as someone who is lazy, you will live that out. You won’t plan ahead for your meals, you’ll go through the drive thru, you’ll skip out on your grocery shopping and watch TV instead, you’ll procrastinate on important work projects, you won’t put out your resume and look for a new job, and you probably won’t have the most exciting life because you haven’t made the time to go out and create it.
But now, imagine if you identify as proactive instead of lazy. Then what happens? Well, it’s just as if you believe you are lazy. If you believe to your core that you are proactive, you will go and prove it correct.
You’ll get your work done, you plan your life, you don’t snooze through your alarm, you plan your meals and you don’t leave your nutrition to chance, you network and send out tons of resumes to find a new job. In short, you don’t wait for life to happen to you and instead you make life happen for you.
Do you see the difference here? The difference is huge. And, it all stems from who you believe you are. So, I made the mistake really early on and thought, if you want to change your life and change your habits, you just do it. You join a gym. Or you buy a salad spinner and a bunch of Tupperware for your salads, you get some lettuce and there you go, change. No, if only it went that way. I’ve learned from my own mistakes in my own life that it is just not that easy. It doesn’t work that way.
When you don’t change who you are and how you see yourself, when you don’t change who you believe you are as a person, it gets really, really hard to uphold changes in your habits. When your actions are not in alignment with who you believe you are as a person that’s in congruence. That’s not going to last.
It all has to match up. You can’t fake yourself out by buying a gym membership, while deep down you’re thinking to yourself, “There’s no way this is going to make a difference.” That gym membership will do you no good if you don’t have the belief in yourself that you’re someone who gets her workout done, or that you’re a strong person, or that you’re a healthy person taking care of her body, or that you are capable of change.
So, what am I getting at here? In order to change your habits, you’re going to need to change how you see yourself. You’ll need to work on your identity and who you believe you are at your core, as a person, in order for your actions to change and actually stick.
The classic example you may have run into is the example of someone who wins a lottery. Imagine a person who has very little money, works a minimum wage job, and has struggled all her life financially. And then suddenly, she wins millions of dollars in a lottery.
But within a few years of winning those millions, she goes right back to being poor. She squanders her money on cars and trips, and all kinds of material things. But she doesn’t plan ahead, she doesn’t save any of that money, ends up spending all of it, and puts herself right back where she started.
What’s going on there? It’s identity. You have to work on living into the identity of being a person with money. If you win millions of dollars, but still believe in your core that you are poor and not capable of having money, there it is. There’s your identity. There’s your worldview. That’s your self-image. You will go and prove it correct by spending all of that money irresponsibly, because you haven’t adopted the identity of a wealthy person, or someone who has money.
It all has to match up. That’s a fairly common example. The point here is that at the heart of any habit change is an identity shift. Your belief in who you are as a person matters more than anything. Your beliefs about yourself are essential, because your habits and the things you do will be a reflection of those beliefs. Your actions will be a reflection of your identity.
With that being said, let me take you through an exercise designed to help you get really, really clear on who you want to be and how you want to show up in this world.
I want you to decide who you want to be, decide what you want to believe about yourself, and then take it a step further and describe the attributes of this person. We’re going to get super specific and get inside this person’s brain. Visualize this person and get inside her mind so you understand how she operates. You’re going to get really clear on that.
Then, once you understand how this person works, you go and practice living it out. You act like that person. When you do this, something really cool happens. When you practice living as the kind of person you want to be, you become that person. You reinforce the identity you’re creating for yourself by acting in a way that supports that identity. It’s really cool.
All right, let me take you through this so it makes more sense. First, decide how you want to describe yourself; you can start with a title or a noun to describe yourself, that’s fine.
Often, when I do this exercise with clients, they will say something like, “I want to be strong. I want to be a strong person,” that one comes up all the time. So, let’s run with that. Decide how you want to identify: I want to be a strong person. When I say strong, I mean both mentally and physically.
Now, let’s find out a little more about this person, starting with her thoughts. How does a strong person think? If you’re struggling at all with this, here’s the way to go about it. Imagine some of the challenges that you might run into, and then think through how a strong person would respond, think in that setting.
For example, when a strong person has had a rough night and it’s time to get up at 5am for her morning workout, how does she think? Does a strong person think, “I’m too tired. I’m going to hit snooze. This workout doesn’t matter, I’ll try again tomorrow?”
Or does she think, “This might be a B- workout. I’m tired, but I’m going to get it done anyway?” When a strong person has to make a choice between takeout with her coworkers versus eating the salad she brought for lunch, how does she think? Does she think, “This one time doesn’t matter. I’ll just get takeout and save my salad for tomorrow?” Or does she think, “I want to feel good after I eat and takeout is not going to do that. I’m eating the food I brought with me.”
All the while you’re constantly going back to that question: How does a strong person think? You can do this in real time. When you’re presented with a situation or a choice and you’re not sure how to proceed, go back to that key question: How does a strong person think? Let that question be your guide.
Challenge yourself to answer it honestly. Then, once you’ve got the answer, you can practice thinking it. When you decide a strong person thinks to herself, “I get my workout done,” then you’ve got a sentence. You’ve got a mantra. You’ve got a thought to practice thinking.
What happens when you do this? What happens when you practice the thought, “I get my workout done?” That sentence becomes your belief. Because remember, a belief is your most practiced thought. So, the more you tell yourself, “I get my workout done,” and you practice living into that thought, the more it will become your belief.
Next, once you’ve decided how a strong person thinks, let’s build on that and decide how a strong person feels. If you remember from previous episodes, I’ve shared that your thoughts create your feelings. You cannot have a feeling without having a thought first, right? So, use this information to decide for yourself how to feel.
We’re building on what you decided a strong person thinks and adding to it by deciding what a strong person feels. As an example, what would a strong person think when she’s been working really hard to change her diet, she steps on the scale and sees that it didn’t budge? What does a strong person think?
Does she think, “This isn’t working. I’m never going to be able to lose weight. I am a failure?” Or does she think, “This is frustrating, but it’s not a reason to give up. I will keep going, and I’ll keep working on my habits, because this is what I can control?” Or something similar.
So, if you decide to think, “I will keep going and keep working on my habits, because that’s what I can control,” how does it feel? Ask one of my most favorite questions: How does it feel to think that way?
My hope is that thinking ‘I will keep going,’ will make you feel focused, grounded, calm, or empowered. That is instead of feeling hopeless, and defeated or lost. You decide. You decide how a strong person feels in this situation. Then, you practice thinking and feeling that way.
Last, we’re going to keep building on this here, after you’ve decided how a strong person thinks and feels, then you decide how a strong person acts. What does a strong person do when she’s had a really tough day at work and a coworker offers her candy from the candy dish to make it better? Does she take the candy?
Does she grit her teeth and say, “No, I really can’t. I really shouldn’t have this candy?” Or does a strong person decide, from a place of focus and grounding, “No, thank you. I’m choosing not to have candy.”
Here’s another example. What does a strong person do when she’s confronted with a negative opinion about her? Does she perseverate and spin and spiral, and decide that she is not good enough and unworthy? Or does she remind herself that her opinion of herself is the one that matters most, and carries herself with integrity while being kind to herself, and feeling the natural disappointment that comes up for her?
What does a strong person do in that situation? Get really clear on that. Again, when you do this and decide in advance to adopt the identity of a strong person, here’s what happens. When you are confronted with a situation, and you’re not sure how to proceed, you can use the identity that you’ve predetermined as your guidepost.
Go back to your questions. What would a strong person think? How would a strong person feel? How would a strong person act? And then, answer those questions. Those answers give you guidance. Those answers tell you how to proceed. Those answers tell you how to move forward. And then, you practice it. You practice thinking, feeling, and acting like a strong person, based on your answers. Okay?
This process here is pretty simple and straightforward. To review, you decide who you want to be, name it, give it adjectives and descriptors if you’d like. “I want to be a strong person. I want to be someone who gets her workout done. I want to be a fun-loving mom.” Decide who it is you want to become, there is your identity.
Then describe how that person thinks. What are the thoughts you need to practice thinking in order to be someone who gets her workout done? Those are the thoughts you will put on repeat, and practice thinking to yourself over and over again, so they become your beliefs.
Then how does the person feel? How does someone who gets her workouts done feel? How does she feel when her house is a mess and she’s got exactly 30 minutes in the morning to get her workout in before the rest of the day gets crazy? Does she feel frazzled or does she feel determined?
Last, decide how this person acts. What does someone who gets her workouts done do? Does she let a long day of meetings stop her from getting her exercise in? Does she let a business trip mean there’s no way she can exercise because she’s out of town? Or does she pack her gym clothes and get a bodyweight workout done in her hotel room? Even if it’s not her usual workout slinging the dumbbells, she doesn’t care because she’s someone who gets her workout done.
Decide it and then execute. Live it out. Act as a person who gets her workout done acts. In that process, you become that person. You become someone who gets her workout done. Do you see that?
I really, really love this process so very much.
But let me address something that comes up commonly when I do this exercise. So, what if you’re hearing all this and you’re not sure? What if you’re not exactly sure who you want to be, but you know you want to lose weight and eat healthier in the year ahead? No problem. We can start there.
If it’s hard for you to describe from the get-go who you want to be, or if it’s hard for you to choose an identity, we can reverse engineer this. Instead, decide the result you want. Decide on your goal. For example, for many of you it may be, “I want to lose weight this year.” Start there. There’s your goal. There’s your result.
Now, work the process backwards. What kind of person do you have to be in order to lose weight? What kind of person do you have to be? Probably disciplined, determined, or proactive. Describe that person. Again, there it is, there’s your identity. You’ve just given yourself the description of who you need to become in order to get the desired goal of weight loss; disciplined, determined, proactive.
Then keep going. Keep working the process. Decide how a disciplined, determined, proactive person who loses weight… Decide how that person thinks, feels, and acts. It’s the same process as what we just went through. But instead of starting with who you want to be, you started with your desired result.
You take the result you want, and then you describe the kind of person who gets that result. What are their attributes? How does that person think, feel, and act in order to represent those attributes?
You’ll get the same information; you’re just starting with a different question. You’re starting with the result, and then deciding the type of person who gets that result. Either way, you will ultimately land on a new identity that you will go and practice living into. All right?
I hope this helps to guide you as you stare down the start of a new year. For many of you, the clean slate of a new calendar is that psychological do-over you need to put change in motion. There is something about a new year that fills us with hope. And if there are things you want to accomplish in this year, go for it.
But rather than focusing solely on what you want to accomplish this year, I’m encouraging you to think about it a little differently. I’m encouraging you to think about who you want to become this year in order to accomplish whatever goal you set out to do. Start with your identity, first and foremost.
Too often you get so focused on the goal; losing 20 pounds, wearing a certain outfit, being a certain size, having a six-pack or a shoulder cap, whatever it is. And while having goals like that is helpful, it’s not the be-all end-all. There is so much more to it than that.
If you want to change your habits in order to achieve a goal it’s going to start with how you see yourself. It’s one thing to use January 1st as a motivator to pursue a goal, like heading to the gym or eating less fast food. But it is another thing entirely to decide who you’re going to become in order to keep going to the gym and making salads come March 15th. That is when you’re talking about an identity shift.
Remember that what you do is an expression of who you are, the thoughts you think, the feelings you’ve got, and the actions you take. Those are all a collective reflection of who you believe you are in this world. So, to boil it down really simply, your thoughts, feelings, and actions prove your identity. In order to continuously evolve and grow and become your best self, which is what I believe we are put on this world to do, it will require that you elevate your identity to match it.
I hope this exercise helps you put that process in motion. All right? So, wherever you are, whatever you’re celebrating, I hope you’re having a fabulous time. Thank you so much for taking just a few minutes to hang out with me at this super busy time of year.
I hope this exercise helps you, not just as we round out the year, but really anytime you’re looking to change your life. Hang on to this episode and come back to it when you need it. Start with who you want to be, and then practice thinking, feeling, and acting that way to become that person.
If you want to help with this, let’s go. When you coach with me, you will decide who you want to be. Then you’ll get to work proving it, through how you think, feel, and act. I will help you with this. This is the stuff an identity shift is made of. This is what change is made of. If you want this year to be different, go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact, send me a message, and let’s get to work.
Thank you for hanging out with me. I’ll catch you again next week.
If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. Share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you.
This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. You know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.
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