It’s time for 2020 and a whole new decade! If you have new year resolutions planned out - there is a high likelihood that they will fail. How about taking a strategy that will make them much more likely to succeed?
In most cases, the resolutions fail because they go against how we see ourselves. The habits we stack in our life, which we think will contribute to our success, are not congruent with the future identity anchored in our brain. They are often at odds with each other. Here’s an example that will help illustrate this point:
Say my goal for 2020 is to coach a thousand product managers. To realize this goal, I need to think of the identity that represents one who coached a thousand product managers. I have to think of myself as a business owner or an entrepreneur. So now, my goal and the future identity that I want to assume are congruent with each other.
I want you to focus not on the goals but the identity you need to take on to succeed. Let’s create your identity sheet together!
Start by creating three columns where you will write down the following:
The identity: The identity you want to anchor in your brain and take on every day.
The meaning: What the identity means to you
The measures of success for that identity, which become your resolutions
Remember, as you create your identity sheet, what you put in each column should be extremely important to you and should engage you emotionally.
Hi, this is Shobhit, founder of Intentional Product Manager.
2020 is here. The new decade is here and if you’re like most people, you’re about to come up with a whole new set of New Year resolutions. What is it that you are going to do in this new year. Now you might have already heard the bad news which is that most New Year resolutions fail and by February, most people are already off of them. They’re not even pursuing it further.
What can you do today so that you are most likely to stick to these resolutions?
Let’s talk about this.
Most of you, you’re probably trying to either achieve a target or build a new habit, something like get to a certain weight if it’s health goals or be able to exercise daily or maybe it’s something related to work, maybe you want to be more forthcoming at work, offer more feedback to people, maybe you want to lead more and have more courage and passion as you show up at work. Maybe you just want to stay ahead of email, inbox freedom.
Right, those are the kind of things you want to do. Now, research has shown and you can read this book called Atomic Habits, it outlines it well. The fact that most of us, we don’t really stick to our habits because what the habit is and what our future identity is that is anchored in our brain, they are not congruent with each other. They’re often at odds with each other. So let’s say the habit that you want to make is you want to eat healthy every day but you haven’t really established the identity of being, somewhat like an athlete or a healthy eater. Then, you’re likely to fall off the bandwagon pretty quickly. But if you do both and if you take actions, small actions that move you towards your goal and you start to anchor in the identity that you want to achieve, then you’re much much more likely to actually get towards that end goal.
Now, this is an unverified claim but it certainly works for me and I want to tell you how I plan out my 2020 resolutions. So I’m going to take some really hi-tech tools, super hi-tech. Also known as a sheet of paper, a big sheet of paper and a marker and I’m gonna plan out. I actually have, already have, in my home office, a sheet bigger than this.that’s hanging that I look out every day. So here’s what I want you to think about. So first maybe on some rough paper, just plan out what are the things you want to achieve. Just write those down.
So, I’m gonna take three examples. Let’s say through Intentional Product Manager, I want to reach a thousand students in 2020. Then, I want to do a 60-mile bike ride. That’s another one of my goals in 2020 and then the 3rd goal that I have is that I want to make sure that I have at least 2 vacations with my family in 2020. Okay, so these are just three of the goals that I’ve set myself. Then, what I did was, I went and started to think about what kind of person I want to be. So I first wrote down here the three goals that I want to achieve. I’m just gonna put a line through this and at the bottom, I’m gonna write down the kind of person I want to be that associates with these goals
So what’s my identity if I want to reach a thousand product managers. I haven’t reached that goal this year. I’ve coached about a hundred PMs so far so if I get to a thousand I have to think of myself as a business owner or an entrepreneur. That’s the kind of identity I need to take on every day if I want to work with passion towards this goal. So, I’m gonna write down here, into my identity, my first identity trigger that is a business owner. Now you might have to trust me that I’ve written this down ‘cause my handwriting is often so bad that a lot of people cannot even recognize it. So okay, business owner, that’s my first identity. The second one, 60-mile bike ride. What kind of an identity relates to that? And this by the way, in my fully expanded goal sheet, I have more things in it. Someone who eats healthy every day. I want to reach a certain target weight. All of those types towards the identity of an athlete. And then my 2 vacations with family really is about what I put in my identity is an engaged dad. And that is so important. Look, so many times we take this very important aspect of our life and we half-ass them. We don’t really give them our role. We often feel like, you know we are playing that role but we don’t really play it. And think of it. Look I’m not trying to put blame but think about it. How many times, you know, your kid was with you and you were completely busy on the phone. Maybe something from work came up and maybe you were just looking at Twitter and Facebook and worrying in what’s going on around the world than what’s right there in front of you. And I’m not blaming anyone if they’ve done this ‘cause I’ve done this several times. but all I do is I try to remind myself of this identity every day so that I do much less of that and I became that or I become that dad where that the times when I’m truly with my kid and I’ve decided to be more engaged, I stay engaged. I’m with them, playing with them, giving them my full attention. Kids learn so much from that. Now that was my side message on what you should be doing. So here what I’ve written on this sheet is I’ve written on the top my actions and my identity triggers, the identity that I want to anchor and I’m going to
So that was just the groundwork, now what I recommend you do is you should put together this sort of sheet for you. So, I’m gonna show you this sheet in a second but I’m gonna divide it into 3 columns. The first is identity then second is somewhat of a description or what I call as who does what and then goals in 2020. So I’ll show you a couple of examples of what I put here. So for example, in the first column, identity, what I wrote and hang it up already in my home office is I am a, so I wrote I am an in this column, I am a and then athlete who does what. Who, and in my case, I wrote who is in the best shape of his life. To reiterate, I said, I am an athlete who is in the best shape of his life and my goals in 2020 that align to it are a 60-mile bike ride and get down to a weight of 30. I won’t bore with exactly what weight I want to get down to but that’s basically it. So that’s like an example of what I look at every day. I’m an athlete who is in the best shape of his life, does a 60-mile bike ride and a certain pounds. I’m far away from that right now but I’m sure if I keep reinforcing it every single day, keep looking at this chart first thing in the morning and then keep my actions consistent that will stick. It will stick and it will come to me. The next one, I will give you another example, is that I am a business owner, I have to really step into the identity of being a business owner if I want to get to teaching a thousand PMs who and the close his brand strategically that’s what appeals to you. You really gotta trial some, you really gotta trial some different sentences and see what appeals to you. You might try one and then you might look at it again and be like hey that’s really flat, it doesn’t really engage me emotionally. And then my goals are, you know, for example, teach thousand product managers in 2020. That’s the goal I’ve set for myself and that’s my second line. Not very clear to see here but you get the message, right? And so what I want you to do is to fill out all the identities you want to grow into. Don’t, don’t do more than ten. I would say somewhere between three to seven is the sweet spot coz you know once it gets too much, once it gets me on seven, you know your brain can’t really remember and process that information even if you reinforce it daily so I want you to, ah here’s what I want you to do. First, go ahead and fill out the sheet and you might have to do a couple of declarations. You might like some, you might come back and look at it the next day and be like “Uh no, that doesn’t appeal to me. I’m gonna change it”. The important thing is that it is something important to you. All of these identities the actions that you take and the goals you have are important to you and they engage you emotionally. So for example, an engaged dad, I, you know, I taught us a lot of things. I said something like the best dad ever. And I realized that that can’t really engage to me ‘cause I’m not really trying to be in competition with other dads. I’m just trying to do what’s right for my kids. So the engaged dad really appeals to me. It felt like something that I’ve done better in 2019 than ever before but overall I would say I haven’t done the best job and I want to do just so much better but just saying that and stating that and putting those actions that align with that, that really helped me.
And now what I, the next step that I want you to do is make sure you put it up somewhere and look at it every day. Not on your computer. Something physical, something ideally in your house. In my basement, I have a home office, that’s where I put it. You know, it doesn’t look amazing but it’s there, it’s my piece of work. It’s your piece of fun, that’s really what matters. And then, what I want you to do after that is when you plan your days, your weeks, your months everything, look at these actions and make sure what you’re doing is congruent with the identity you set up. A lot of pain that we have in our life comes from a difference in what we want to have and what exists currently. But also it comes from the actions that we take, they’re incongruent from the goals and the visions that we’ve set up for ourselves. So I want you to set up a vision that you look, not just look at it every day but act in accordance with that.
How’s that for setting you up for success for 2020. It’s gonna be an awesome decade, you are going to crush it. Make sure you set up not just feeble resolutions but you anchor in your identity so that you can achieve your best and you can become your best self in 2020.
I look forward to seeing you again.
This is Shobhit, I’m the founder of Intentional Product Manager and I look forward to seeing you again here soon.
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