How to Design & Master Your Life Pt 3: Refine Your Identity


Identity, or self-image, is fundamentally about the beliefs that shape our individuality and influence our capabilities. It's not merely about what you can or cannot do; it's about what you believe you can achieve. These beliefs often do not reflect our true abilities but are instead shaped by how we interpret our experiences.

Your identity is crafted by the decisions you've made about who you are and the labels you've applied to yourself. This becomes especially significant when setting goals, as a transformative vision requires an identity that supports it.

STEP 1: Determine Your Current Identity

First, take some time to ponder who you are and how you define yourself. This could encompass your emotions, career, financial status, roles, possessions, metaphors, feedback, or achievements. In this reflective process, continuously delve deeper for a clearer self-description that resonates most.

Project this notion to fit your goals. Create a new identity aligned with your ultimate aspirations.

  • 1: What’s Your Dictionary Definition? Imagine looking up your name in a dictionary. What would it say? Consider if a few words suffice or if your life narrative merits extensive coverage. Write down the definition as you perceive it.
  • 2: Design Your ID Card If you were to design an ID card reflecting your true self, what information would it include or exclude? Think about the specifics you might list: statistics, physical attributes, accomplishments, emotions, beliefs, affiliations, motto, abilities. Describe what this identity card would feature, indicating the displayed elements and those deliberately omitted to portray the real you.

Following this, it's crucial to recognize the dynamic nature of identity and the potential pitfalls of overly rigid or outcome-dependent self-concepts. The wrong way to apply identity involves clinging tightly to specific labels or roles that depend heavily on external validation or results.

This approach can lead to issues such as increased ego involvement, fear of experimentation, and dependency on validation, which may stifle personal growth and emotional well-being.

Transition to a Flexible and Value-Based Identity

Instead, a more effective approach involves adopting flexible and value-based identities that focus on behaviors and overarching values rather than fixed outcomes. This method encourages:

  • Flexibility in Identity: Embrace broad, adaptable qualities and behaviors rather than narrow, rigid roles. This allows for growth and change, reducing the pressure of fitting into a predefined box.
  • Value-Based Identity: Anchor your self-concept in core values such as integrity, curiosity, and resilience. These values should guide your actions and decisions, providing a stable yet flexible foundation.
  • Growth Mindset: Cultivate the belief that abilities and traits can be developed through effort and persistence. This perspective supports a view of identity that evolves and adapts, fostering continual personal development.
  • Self-Compassion and Mindfulness: Practice treating yourself with kindness and understanding in the face of setbacks while maintaining awareness of your thoughts and emotions without overly identifying with them.

STEP 2: Expand Your Identity

As you look to expand your identity, think back to the goals you set in Part 1. Ask yourself, “Who do I need to become to accomplish the vision I've set for myself?” This introspection will guide you in pinpointing the specific aspects of your identity that need transformation.

  • List New Traits: Identify the traits or skills you need to develop to meet your goals. Consider who already embodies these traits—can they serve as models for the identity you aspire to develop? This reflection not only sets a tangible benchmark but also connects you with your aspirational self.
  • Visualization Exercise: Engage deeply with the process of becoming your ideal self by visualizing this transformation. Write a detailed paragraph about merging with your new identity, focusing on the character traits and skills you must cultivate. How would employing your senses enhance this visualization? For example, imagine the sounds in a busy conference room where you lead meetings, the feel of a new office, or the sights associated with success in your field.
  • Continuous Identity Refinement: Embrace the dynamic nature of identity. Regularly ask yourself, “What more can I be?” and “What more will I do?” This ongoing introspection ensures that your identity evolves in alignment with your goals. Consider how you would carry yourself, speak, think, and feel once you've adopted these new traits. Allow the excitement of these changes to fuel your motivation.

    For instance, initiating a lasting transformation in someone dealing with addiction would involve shifting their self-label from “I am a drug addict” to “I am a health enthusiast.”

STEP 3: Develop a Plan of Action

Formulate an action plan that resonates with your new, goal-supportive identity. Embrace the ‘be-do-have' philosophy: start by being the person who could achieve those goals, engage in the actions that person would perform, and you will have it in your life.

This foundational mindset prepares you for detailed strategies and habits to be explored in upcoming articles.

This approach emphasizes the transformative power of aligning your identity with your actions and outcomes. Detailed discussions on the specific actions (doing) and the visualization techniques along with reprogramming the subconscious mind (having) will be addressed in future parts of this series.

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