We tend to set new goals at the beginning, end, or anniversaries of time. Mondays,​ first of month, New Years, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

A New Year’s resolution is usually over by January 7th. Why?

What is the difference between these two statements?

  1. Running a marathon.
  2. Becoming a runner.

Running a marathon is a result. It is the completion of a goal.

Becoming a runner is an identity, it is who that person is.

Imagine that you want to lose 30 lbs and are invited to dinner with some friends. After a sumptuous meal, they offer cheesecake for dessert (your favorite). Here are two possible responses.

  1. I really shouldn’t. I’m trying to lose weight and I’m not sure that would help, despite how much I like cheesecake.
  2. No thank you. I’m full.

Q: What is the first response really saying?

Q: What is the second response really saying?

Notice the identity of the first vs. the identity of the second.

Setting and achieving goals has a higher probability of success when you have a firm grasp of who you are. This is your true self or identity. Your identity is part of a successful process. If I’m healthy (#2), then I don’t eat cheesecake, especially if I want to drop a few pounds​.

For the first answer, the identity is, “I’m 30 lbs. too heavy. Please guilt-leverage me so I can justify eating the dessert.” Said differently, “I don’t want to change because the fear of going without dessert and having success being healthy scares me more than coping with the existing frustration of having little to no self-respect.”

Here is an idea. Start over with your New Year’s resolution, and begin with your identity.

Let’s say you actually want to lose weight. You start with the following question/identity statement.

  • What does it look like for me to be healthy?
  • How will I process through the day with my food choices?
  • How do I handle dessert, if offered?
  • How do I respond when people offer me unhealthy food?

Then pre-plan your activities as though you are healthy.

Use mindfulness to plan and practice becoming your identity statement, “I am healthy.”

Happy New Year!