You can’t quite articulate what it is but you feel it. You’ve been stuck for a while spinning your wheels and you’re sick of it. You’re ready for a change. You’re ready to reinvent your life.
What does reinvention mean to you?
Reinvention! A total do-over, a chance to become someone new. But that can mean something different to each of us. For you, it may be finding a new, more fulfilling career or excelling in your current one. It could mean attracting a loving relationship or taking your current one to the next level. Maybe it means being more grateful for what you have and sharing it with others.
Whatever reinvention means to you, isn’t it exciting to know that you have to power to remake yourself? To literally transform your reality. And there’s a powerful tool you can use. Author, Adam Markel talks about it in his book: ‘Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life’. It hinges on how we see ourselves in the world. It’s all about identity.
The power of identity
Who are you? Mother, daughter, colleague, friend. What identities do you take on?
As we navigate through life we all take on different identities. You as a mother will probably have a different persona to who you are as an employee at work. These identities serve an important purpose. As Markel explains, they help you to orient yourself in the world and build social connections. They help you to deal with things that may be new or confusing. It’s this ability to become someone else that is the very key to reinvention. When leveraged consciously and deliberately it becomes a kind of superpower.
The life formula that got you here
If you’re restless and dissatisfied with your life then chances are you’ve followed the DO → HAVE → BE formula so far. It’s one many of us have been programmed to believe growing up. As Markel points out, we do certain things in life in order to have certain things, to then be someone whom others show respect. This formula, however, is a false promise. It sets you up to fail at bringing to life the things that really matter to you. You’re so focused on doing and having in a bid to impress others that you lose your way. But what if the formula is the wrong way round.
The Superhero formula: BE → DO → HAVE
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up each day filled with purpose and focus? To feel connected to and energised by your life. What if all it required was a simple shift from doing to being? To adopt what Markel describes as the superhero formula: BE → DO → HAVE and focus first on who you want to become.
‘Success is something you attract by the person you become.’ Jim Rohn
Because here’s the thing. At the heart of any reinvention is this basic truth. For things to change for you, you’ve got to change. To have a different life, you have to become someone different. That change comes when you cultivate different habits. Those habits become your new identity.
The 3 layers of behaviour change
‘Behaviour that is incongruent with the self will not last.’ — James Clear, Atomic Habits
Author James Clear in his bestselling book ‘Atomic Habits’ describes 3 layers of behaviour change.
Layer 1 – changing your outcomes, i.e. the results being produced in your life.
Layer 2 – changing your process, i.e. what you actually do.
Layer 3 – changing your identity, i.e. what you believe.
The most powerful, however, are identity-based habits which focus on who you wish to become.
Because it’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past, undesired behaviour. Changing your identity requires more. It means changing your beliefs, self-image and judgments about yourself and others.
How to become who you want to be
Changing your identity comes down to these two basic steps.
1. Decide who you want to be
‘You are what you believe yourself to be.’ — Paulo Coelho
You can adopt many identities throughout your life but which are the ones that truly matter to you? Are there some that hold you back because of underlying limiting beliefs or assumptions? Are they ones you need to discard?
Deciding on the new identity you want to embody may require some deep introspection and exploration. It may mean trying different things out and doing some soul searching. Or maybe it’s already clear to you what needs to change and who you want to evolve to. It comes down to a decision you have to make to do what is required to become the person you want to be. What behaviours, beliefs and attitudes do you need to adopt to be that person?
Don’t get stuck in the gap
With any reinvention there will be a gap between where you are and where you want to be. Don’t get caught in the trap of worrying about all the places you’re less than. Creating a new identity will take time and starts with small steps. So don’t limit your vision of who you want to become because you can’t quite figure out how you’ll get there. That comes next.
2. Prove it to yourself
‘Change requires that you surrender to whom you need to become.’
In order to start identifying with your desired future self, you need to start believing new things about yourself. That comes through taking action to reinforce that new identity.
a. Act as if – if you were already the person you wanted to be, how would you act? Do the things that the kind of person you want to be does. Take action that feels in alignment with who you want to become.
b. Start small – it can feel daunting when your goal is far away so make sure those first steps are small. What steps can you take to move you in your desired direction – make it a quick win.
With each small task accomplished you gain confidence and your self belief grows. With consistent action over time you morph into that new person.
You can’t think your way to a new identity, you act your way to it.
Let identity be a driving force in your reinvention
Is all this talk of a new identity making you nervous? Maybe it sounds fake, like you’re pretending to be someone you’re not. Remember any meaningful change will be uncomfortable and changing the behaviours of a lifetime will be challenging. You’re unwiring decades of beliefs, thought patterns and attitudes and that can feel strange for a while. But if you are to create lasting change in your life you’ll need to dive below the surface to really make it who you are.
‘Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.’ — James Clear, Atomic Habits
Decide who you want to be and why it matters. Adopt the BE → DO → HAVE superhero formula and let the power of identity spur you on.
Now over to you
Is your current identity holding you back?
Who do you need to become to have the life you dream of?
Let me know in the comments.
‘Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life’ by Adam Markel
Atomic Habits by James Clear