The year I turned 50, I achieved my weight loss goal and it was fantastic. When a goal aligns with your identity it becomes an extension of who you really are. When a goal is driven by an outcome it is being motivated by something outside of yourself. So it is essential to understand the motivation for any goal you set because all of the habits that are formed create a system that is in service of the goal. Very simply, outcome-based habits (think goals driven by a life event – like say, turning 50) are very likely to fall away once the goal is achieved. But if habits are identity-based (goals are related to your perceived identity) habits will endure because those habits are an extension of who you really are.
After reading about this, in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, everything makes so much sense. Getting to Goal was created to help me reach my weight loss goal the year I turned 50, there was a countdown clock, and every post was entitled by the number of days I was on the journey. It did work, I did make goal, and I did learn a lot about myself. However, it did not endure because my outcome-based. My goal was attached to a timeline, first and my identity last.
When a goal is attached to identity, the important question to ask yourself is: What kind of person am I becoming on this weight loss journey? For me, I am a person who values a healthy lifestyle – that is part of who I am. My habits are forming a network of systems that exist because I live a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to create these responsive systems will result in my losing weight because I am a person who lives a healthy lifestyle. See the difference?
Here is a secret about systems, they don’t defer happiness. If one system is to establish a habit of drinking 64 ounces of water each day – and I do that – I’m happy. If I only focus on my goal, to lose 40 pounds I’m not going to be happy for a while – happiness is deferred. I have not achieved my goal yet, and I won’t for a long while. However, I am so happy about my healthy habits – and the systems I am laying down because I live a healthy lifestyle. Let’s say I am a work in progress, but I am making progress as I continue to learn more.