Switch from Outcome-based Habits to Identity-based Habits

It has been said that the only thing that distinguishes a high performer from an average performer is their habits. If you want to improve at something, developing good habits will help you shift your focus away from what not to do and toward doing more things that result in positive outcomes for yourself. Goals are great for setting a general direction, but they are not the best place to begin habit formation.  The key to developing good habits is not in the goal itself but in how you achieve it. We make habits to help us with our goals and purposes in life. Some of these habits are outcome-based, meaning we make them for the results they bring. Others are identity-based, meaning we make them because they express who we want to be. It’s important to know what type of habit you’re making to be more effective in knowing your purpose. 

Most of us form habits solely based on the outcome. It’s when we do something to achieve a specific goal, such as losing weight or becoming wealthy. Rather than sticking to routines, we tend to focus on achieving a particular result or goal. You know, those “do this and get that” habits that aren’t very effective. This way of thinking has two flaws: (1) it can be challenging to stay motivated in the long run, and (2) you’re not really in control of your results, so why put all your eggs in one basket? Instead, focus on developing identity-based habits that center on who you want to be rather than what you want to achieve.

It is not enough to simply focus on the outcome if you want to change your habits. You’ll need a strong identity-based habit to provide motivation and drive for success. Once you’ve mastered this part, you can change other aspects of your life by focusing on what’s important to you as an individual. Remember that while there are numerous ways to achieve various outcomes in our lives, we all begin with who we are at our core inside before anything else. Spend some time today reflecting on who you are. What do you value the most about yourself? Asking yourself these questions can help you decide which new habits to form or which to break free from. The process of getting there is equally important because that’s how we develop habits in our brain; through repetition and consistency. Identity-based habits are more effective than outcome-based ones because they provide a sense of purpose or belongingness that can’t be found with any other type of habit formation strategy. 

Many people believe that we need the motivation of a goal or a result to do anything at all, and while this is true for some people, others don’t. If you want effective change, it’s important to remember that outcomes don’t matter, and outcomes are not what makes habits work. The process and consistency produce results, regardless of how long it takes or how difficult it is.

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