How to reinforce Behavior Change (through identity-based habits)


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Today at a Glance

Most people (us included) want to become better this second half of the year. Many of us, however, will set performance- and appearance-based goals in hopes that they will drive us to do things differently.

Today we dive into Phase 5 of “The Anatomy of Change” and explore sustained behavior change.

In this edition, we discuss how to use identity-based habits in your favor for sustained success.

Let’s do it…

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, so the saying goes. That’s not correct.

We’re able to change at any given age (or circumstances).

Meet Lisa Allen. A woman who underwent a remarkable transformation. Lisa struggled with multiple issues:

  • obesity,
  • smoking, and
  • a tendency to lash out in anger.

However, she managed to turn her life around by focusing on understanding and altering her behavior.

Lisa was able to modify her habits step by step by altering them through a gradual process. She replaced unhealthy eating patterns with healthier food choices, quit smoking, and learned to manage her anger in more constructive ways.

As a result, she lost a substantial amount of weight, improved her health, and developed more positive relationships with her family and colleagues.

Lisa’s story is just one example of how behavior change can lead to a dramatic transformation in someone’s life. First, we understand the underlying mechanisms of habits.

Then we use targeted interventions to break free from negative patterns and cultivate positive behaviors to shape our better tomorrow (often in profound ways).

"Start with changing behaviors, not mindsets. It is much easier to 'act your way into new thinking' than to 'think your way into new actions.' Recurring and consistent performance results from behavior change will lead to lasting changes in the way people feel, think, and believe in the long run."

The Anatomy of Change — Part 5

As mentioned in previous newsletters, personal change is a complex process that can be influenced by various mechanisms.

We call it “The Anatomy of Change”.

It’s a 9-phase process resulting in transformation:

Phase 5: Behavior Change

Let’s dive deeper here…

What are Habits?

James Clear defines habits as “the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day”.

Researchers at Duke University state that habits account for about 40% of our behaviors on any given day. Meaning 40% of the day we run on autopilot.

Your life today is essentially the outcome of your habits. How fit or unfit you are. How healthy or unhealthy you are.

You are what you repeatedly do. Your actions (or inactions), reactions, and decisions ultimately form the person you are, how you view the world, and the identity you present to the world.

Change your habits
↳ change your behavior
↳ change your identity
↳ change your life.

We all want to become better people — stronger, healthier, a better dad, a better entrepreneur.

Often we get inspired. Start doing things better. Then it gets hard to stick to new behaviors.

It’s more likely that this time next year you’ll be in the same place, doing the same things, eating the same food than having switched to a better, healthier life with ease.

Why is that? And more importantly—what can you do to make behavior change easier?

Behavior change with Identity-Based Habits

The key to behavior change is creating a new identity first. Your behaviors today are a simple reflection of your identity today. You present to the world the type of person you believe you are (either consciously or subconsciously).

To change your behavior once and for all, you need to start believing new things about yourself. Your habits need to be aligned with who you want to become. Then they work like an engine pulling you into your desired future.

Most people get goal-setting wrong. They center it around their outcomes—not their identity.

Let me explain…

There are three levels on which change can occur. Imagine them as the layers of an onion.

behavior change
Image credit: James Clear (author of Atomic Habits)

Layer 1: Changing your outcomes 
This superficial level is about changing your results: losing weight, getting stronger, performing better at work. Most of the goals people usually set are associated with this layer of change.

Layer 2: Changing your process 
This level is about changing your habits and systems: cutting out refined sugar and soda, implementing a new movement/exercise routine, and destressing with mindful moments. Most of the habits you build are associated with this layer.

Layer 3 (The Core): Changing your identity 
This level is about changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, and your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this layer.

Outcomes = what you get.
Processes = what you do.
Identity = what you believe.

For lasting behavior change—building a system of fractional improvements—the problem is not that one level is “better” or “worse” than another. All levels of change are useful in their own way. The problem is the direction of change.

Many people start with what they want. We do it the other way around. We start from The Core—focusing on who we wish to become.

The Sustained Success Recipe

Changing your beliefs is not as hard as you might think. Two simple steps:

  1. Picture the type of person you want to be.
  2. Prove it to yourself with fractional wins.

Let’s make a few examples:

Want to lose weight?

Identity: Become the type of person who moves more every day.

Small win: Get outside. Walk 50 steps before you go to work. Tomorrow, walk 100 steps. The day after that, 150 steps. If you do this 5 days per week and add 50 steps each day, then by the end of the year, you’ll be walking over 10,000 steps per day.

Want to become strong?

Identity: Become the type of person who never misses a movement/exercise practice.

Small win: 5 min. upper body on Monday (Push Ups), 5 min. legs on Wednesday (Squats), 5 min. core/deep core on Friday (Planks). To develop a well-rounded routine and a functional, balanced body, extend your workout time by adding a variety of movements and exercises. Consider adding 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, or 60 minutes to your routine.

If you want to make lasting changes and live a better life, then we say build those changes around your desired identity. We can confirm—it works.

That’s it for today.

Hope you enjoyed it (and learned something new).

This is Part 5 of our big “Change Series”.

Revealing the other 4 phases over the next few weeks.

What’s going on in our world

We have spent another productive week in the Mexican Jungle.

The weather conditions here are quite difficult. Work is often challenging. However, we are growing amidst challenges.

We are sometimes surprised by how much we have been able to accomplish at 33°C (91.4°F) and 80% humidity (and some days even more).

This week, we continued working on our first book. We are super excited about it. We will share more details with you soon.

We have also been working on two programs that we have been running with a few clients, and we have decided to integrate them into our webpage.

Coming soon:

  • Movement – “The Posture Cure”
  • Nutrition – “Better Nutrition for Busy Schedules”

Additionally, people have contacted us about how to reduce sugar intake. We have decided to offer assistance to those who want to reduce their sugar intake. We’ll create a self-paced online course soon.

Let us know if you already want to know more about this topic.

And finally this week we took one day off on Wednesday to explore a lovely village close to Sayulita, here is a picture of Lo de Marcos.

Remember: Work hard, rest harder.
Growth requires a balance between work and rest.

As always, stay fit, stay active, and enjoy your life.

Ketty & Markus

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