YOUR IDENTITY IS THE KEY.
I believe therefore I am, therefore I do…or something like that.
Your thoughts become your habits and your habits become your life. A Time honoured and borderline clichéd saying, but you know why sayings like that become clichés? It’s because they’re true…
Ever wondered why its common and unsurprising for retired athletes to fall out of shape. Very quickly their behaviour changes, in some cases spirals out of control and many fall into recreational drugs and other things? How does someone who possesses the drive, discipline and determination to become a professional athlete, all of a sudden lose that control and do a 180?
Dwyane Wade is an all-time great NBA player. That term is bandied about quite often to the point that it doesn’t hit as hard as it should. So let me give you some context.
In any given year there are around 450 players registered to NBA teams (15 spaces on the team, 30 teams). Given the 7bn+ people on this planet, just by reaching the NBA you are 0.00000064% of the population who are alive at the time. To be a top 5 player in the game at any given time, that’s 0.0000000064%, to be a Top 5 player at your position out of everyone who EVER LIVED, well I don’t have enough space on my page for the zeros.
As he prepares for life after basketball DWade recognises the need for him to be proactive and deal with the issues that will come his way.
"I'll be in therapy. Seriously, I mean it, it is going to be a big change. I told my wife, I said, 'I need to do therapy, and we need to do a little bit.'
I was always against someone that don't know me telling me how to live my life or giving me instructions. But I need someone to talk to about it. Because it is a big change. Even though I got a long life to live, other great things I can accomplish and do, it's not this. So it's going to be different." - Dwyane Wade
Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Lamar Odom and countless others have all also struggled with that post career transition.
For most of their adult lives professional athletes have their identities tied to being the man in the arena, being a star and basking in the adulation of the crowd. For so many sportsmen (and women), their self worth and knowledge of who they are is tied to this one specific aspect of their life. When the curtain closes, the lights dim for the final time, and the crowds stop cheering they have no idea who they are anymore.
Our Identity shapes and dictates everything we do. What we do now is a mirror image of the type of person we believe that we are (either consciously or subconsciously). If you don’t believe you’re the kind of person who can achieve the goals you have, then no amount of reading them aloud, daily is going to inspire you to CONSISTENTLY take action.
So what will? SHIFTing your Identity.
3 Layers of Behavioural Change
Outcomes: This level is about what you get. Outcomes are concerned with changing your results and chances are most of the goals you set will be in this level e.g. losing weight.
Processes. This level is about what you do and is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym , developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level.
Identity. This level is the deepest and is concerned with changing your beliefs, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others.
How does it work? Here’s a practical example:
Outcome: I want to lose 10kg
Process: Every day when you get out of bed, immediately do some exercise before you clean your teeth. Throughout the day choose to eat more natural vs. processed food.
Identity: Become the type of person who takes pride in being active every day and consistently making healthy food choices.
Small win: Every morning do 5 push ups and 5 bodyweight squats before cleaning your teeth. Every week add a push up and squat to your total.
Week 1: 5 & 5,
Week 2: 6 & 6
This is an easy and practical way of building a productive habit, because it gives you the chance to prove the benefits to yourself very quickly.
If you want to learn how to commit to your goals in the long-term, first you have to develop an identity that drives the behaviours you need to achieve them.
Anything else is just playing and setting yourself up for disappointment.