Self Identity and Goals
Join me today as I share a recent story about one of my doctors, self identity and goal setting. In this episode you will learn why understanding your current story around self identity is important, what changes you will want to make in order to become your future self and the best way to form habits in order to accomplish your next level of goals.
In This Episode:
- The importance of knowing your current story around your self identity
- Who do you want to become
- Socialized systems that may have held you back
- How to implement new habits around self identity for lasting change
- James Clear – Atomic Habits
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(Transcribed by Otter.AI with minimal edits)
Michelle Bourque 0:01 You are listening to the It’s Your Time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Bourque, and today’s episode I’m discussing self identity and goals. Welcome to the It’s Your Time Podcast, the podcast. We’re busy professionals, like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule. So you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place.
Michelle Bourque 0:39 Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back to the podcast friends. Okay, I want to jump right into today’s episode with a little backstory as to why I wanted to do this topic of self identity and goals. Last week, I was in a meeting with one of my doctors and he was talking about how he was considering retirement, but was afraid because if he did, he said he would no longer be Dr. Smith. I’ve changed the name of the identity. And the people involved in this story. Well, except for mine, of course, because you know me. But seriously, this is a thing right? When you are moving from one chapter of your life to the next. And it doesn’t have to be to the point of retirement. I see this at times with marriages. Also it can be when the first kit arrives. And now the identity as a couple has shifted to an identity as parents or on the flip side, we hear about this when the kids leave the house. And now you’re like who am I? If I’m not doing all the mom’s stuff, there are shifts and identity that can be super uncomfortable. In fact, it’s why most folks don’t make too many changes in their lives. Because it disrupts what the brain loves most. And that is homeostasis. Remember, the brains main job is to keep us alive. It likes to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be as efficient as possible, which often means keeping things the same. And I want you to think about the story that you tell of your identity. Unlikely you have many aspects to it. Your identity encompasses memories, experiences, relationships, values, all of that creates your sense of self. And it can change over time. I think sometimes a challenging, super challenging question simply might be, who am I? Like, truly? Who would you identify as your authentic self? And you know, I love all of the future self work. So who do you want to become? And I think the challenge in such questions really comes from the fact that for most of our lives, we have been socialized to look for external feedback in our lives. As kids, we often look to our parents for approval. Growing up in school, of course we want to fit in, we consider what others expectations of us are and often morph ourselves to fit that. Especially my people pleasing pals. Again, from a brain science standpoint, it’s totally normal, and makes complete sense. Back in the day, when we lived in caves, and we were being chased by saber toothed tigers, we want it to fit in, we had to fit in or we would die. That’s not really the same case. If you let’s say don’t get to sit at the cool kids table for lunch. Even as adults, we often look to leadership figures to deem us ready for a promotion for an example, right? So when we ask or when I ask who are you, you need to take some time to listen to what you hear from yourself. I will even say for some being a salesperson, just that career might have you show up as a bit of a chameleon. And so you have one identity in front of some folks and you show up with a little bit different of an identity in front of others. This makes me think of a funny story. Michelle Bourque 4:30 I at one point was considering a management job and I was looking for feedback from folks and I received from multiple people that they thought I might be too nice to be a manager to which Mark I think almost rolled off his chair and said they don’t have to live with you. In fact, he says that I am more of a pitbull and a poodles body. This is what I mean. How do you show up in front of others and is says truly your self, I’ll let you decide if I’m the two nice are the people in a poodles body. But it’s interesting when we look back at theories around identity, and the framework from Freud, for example, was that the mind was composed of the ID, which was driven by instinct and desire, the super ego, which is driven by morality and values, and then the ego. We’ve heard about this before, right? Id, Ego super ego. And he says the ego moderates the ID and the super ego to create your identity. And many features contribute to ego functioning right, including insight, agency, empathy, purpose. And another theory proposed from Erik Erikson is the theory development based on stages of life. And he coined the term ego identity, which he conceived as an enduring and continuous sense of who a person is, the ego identity, helps to merge all of the different versions of oneself the parent self, the career self, the sexual self, into one cohesive whole, so that if a disaster strikes, there’s a stable sense of self. The reason it’s important to understand your self identity is because it affects your motivations, attitudes, and behaviors. And it affects how we think about the person we think we are, often we look at our self identity as determining our self worth. And back to the story of the doctor. That is the question. Who would he be? If he wasn’t Dr. Smith? The thing is, we get to answer that for ourselves. And I think one way to think about this is in line with what James clear the author of atomic habits says. He says, Your habits are how you embody a particular identity. When you make your bed, you embody the identity of someone who is clean and organized. When you study, you embody the identity of someone who is studious. So what identity are you embodying today? How are your habits, helping you become the next best version, it gives us a tangible way of breaking it down, when you are able to be intentional with who you want to become setting habits will be so much more helpful for you, as you go from where you are now, to who you want to become. So for example, for the longest time, I did not believe I was a leader. I did not identify with that, I think in part because when I would hear leader, I would think bossy. And let me say, I didn’t realize I was even necessarily thinking that it was more of a subconscious thing that was going on behind the scenes. And it wasn’t until I started working with one of my coaches that I was actually able to see that because that is the job of a coach, right? To show you your blind spots. Michelle Bourque 8:10 I used to think I’m just a rep. But identifying as just a rep gives me way different results in life than telling the story that I’m a leader. So how do you make that leap? First, awareness of where you are now is the initial step. Give yourself the gift of just thinking about the story you currently tell yourself. And let’s do this. Think about a goal that you want. And think about the story you tell around you being able to accomplish this goal. So for example, I started the coaching business, but I have a deep, deep story and self identity around being Michelle from Medtronic. And I have identified also as a really good employee. Now, in order to grow the coaching business, I have worked on and continue to work on the idea of becoming a great CEO in order to build the business. So I have to think about the identity of what it means to be a great CEO. What are the habits a great CEO has, that maybe a great employee does not? I need to think about what the difference in mindset is between the two of them. So if you are looking for example, to lose weight, what is the story you tell about that? Is it useful? What’s the difference in the identity of the person who loses weight easily? Michelle Bourque 9:46 James clear talks about three layers of change when we’re looking at this which it’s important in the identity of who you are becoming and his book, atomic habits he talks about the first layer, changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results, losing weight, publishing a book winning a championship, most of the goals that you set are associated with this level of change, then the second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems, implementing a new routine at the gym, for example, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice, and most of the habits you build are associated with this level. And the third and deepest level is changing your identity. So he says this level is concerned with changing your beliefs, your worldview, your self image, your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions and biases that you hold are associated with this level. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. That’s level one and level two. But level three identity is about what you believe. And it when it comes to building habits at last, when it comes to building a system of 1% improvements. The problem is not that one level is better or worse than another. He says all levels of chains are useful in their own way, the problem is the direction of change. Because he says many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. And this leads us to outcome based habits. The alternative is to build identity based habits, which with that approach, you start focusing on who you wish to become. So first, decide who you want to become. And then prove it to yourself with small daily actions. For example, if you want to lose weight, identity is to become the type of person who moves every day. The small win might be that you buy a pedometer, walk 50 steps, and when you get home from work, tomorrow, walk 100 steps, and then the day after 150. And if you do this for five days in a week, it adds 50 steps each day, then by the end of the year, you’ll be walking over 10,000 steps per day. This is also what we’ve talked about the compound effect, right? Small change over time leads to lasting improvements. If you want to become a better writer, he uses the example of than the identity is to become a type of person who writes 1000 words every day. The small win is you write one paragraph each day of the week, want to become a great CEO. My thought is I become a person that thinks of the needle movers for the business and schedules like a boss, and my small win every morning, to take 15 minutes to consider top one to three goals, put them on the calendar, and then be sure to assess at the end of the day. So let’s bring it back to the start as a podcast to answer that doctor’s question.
Michelle Bourque 13:22 Who am I? If I’m not Dr. Smith, you get to be whoever you want. We all get to be whoever we want. We don’t have to continue to think that we need to be the person that your parents, siblings, spouse or boss think you should be. You get to be the author of your story. And listen, I know many of you who listen, like to work on changing others. And of course, I know it’s because we think we know best about what they should be doing, how they should show up. Trust me, that doesn’t work. Let me save you some time. If I ever figure it out. I will be loud and proud and sharing it with you don’t you worry. But in the interim, let’s work on making the changes for ourselves. Take the energy that you use on thinking others should be different and start channeling it to changing what you want to change in your life. On ourselves in our lives. That’s what takes us to the next best version of ourselves. And notice I said next best, you already are 100% naturally resourceful, whole, and complete. As is. We just do this because as humans, we really do yearn to evolve and to get to change, but not presupposing because things are terrible where we are instead because we just freakin get too, let’s have fun along the way. Okay friends, that’s what I have for you today. Let’s circle back next week but for now, make it a great day. Take care
Thanks for being here!