Know Your Identity and Future Self
Envision the person you need to become to realize your vision
Our identity is an invisible force that shapes how we feel about ourselves, how we show up, and what we can achieve. While our past does control us or what other people think of us, without a clear, vivid narrative of who we want to become, we remain in the status quo. The momentum of our current path narrows our vision of what may be possible. The daily demands of the urgent keep us focused on small tasks, limiting our investment in long-range strategic goals for ourselves. We are often seduced into short-term gratifications that expend our time and money, thereby committing us to greater costs down the road. We feel trapped in the present, and the radiance of hope for experiencing our full potential dims. How we see and carry ourselves sets the benchmark for how others view and treat us. Internalize your future self and start living it today.
This article is part of a series, and I recommend you read the four previous articles that provide a foundation for crafting a new identity.
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What is Identity?
The book Mastering Leadership summarizes identity as follows:
Identity is what we use to construct our self-understanding, our concept of self. When we are identified with something, we are that something. It defines us. We measure our self-worth and maintain our security by being that something. That something is so fused with our self-concept that it is indistinguishable from ourselves. Of course, the something with which we are identified is not who we actually are, but is sure seems to be that way.
Identity is often referred to as ego because it defines who we are, organizes much of our behavior, moment to moment, and drives the core strategies that we use to establish ourselves in the world. Identity is at the core of our Internal Operating System (IOS) - the part of the IOS that harbors our sense of self, organizes how we understand ourselves, and how we establish our sense of self-worth, self-esteem, personal value, and security. Identity drives how we take up our role in situations and how we deploy ourselves moment to moment. The structure of identity is responsible for mediating much of our thinking and behavior. Therefore, we generate patterns of results consistent with how our identity is structured. When identity evolves, so do we, as do the results we get in the world.
The book Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith, describes four identity perspectives determined by two dynamics complementing and competing with one another. One vector represents the interplay between our past and our future. The other vector tracks the tension between the image others have of us and our self-image.
Remembered Identity – who you are based on events in your life. Clinging too tightly to this identity may create a picture of someone who doesn’t exist.
Reflected Identity – other people’s opinions of what they remember about events in your past and remind you of them. It may be based on hearsay or gossip and not necessarily a true reflection of who you are.
Programmed Identity – the result of other people sending messages about who you are or will become in the future.
Created Identity – the identity we decide to create for ourselves; it is the part of our identity that is not controlled by our past or by other people. Our Created Identity allows us to become a different person.
“The most truly successful people that I have met created identities to become the human beings that they chose to be – without being slaves to the past or to other people. This concept is the beating heart of Mojo.” – Marshall Goldsmith
Creating a New Identity
Each of us is on a journey. At some point, we realize we need to transform into the next best version of ourselves. Change can be hard for most people. The challenge is becoming comfortable with who we are and what got us to success. Over many years, our brain becomes hardwired to think in a certain way. Our aspirations and spirit on what we can achieve become constrained. A situation or event may require us to change even if it is not our choice. A divorce, a job loss, or an economic event can drive the need to change – and sometimes faster than we want to.
“Many of us make the mistake of treating our identity as a fixed, immutable object. We believe it cannot be altered, at least not significantly. As a result, we never try to create a new identity. One of the greatest obstacles to changing our Mojo is here – in the paralysis we create with self-limiting definitions of who we are” – Marshall Goldsmith
What we need to drive change is an aspirational vision of our future self and strategies that let go of certain things so we can evolve naturally.
Knowing who you want to become sets our aspirational direction. We are all shaped by our life experiences, and as we craft a career strategy, we can take a new direction that will ultimately define us. Although it may take time, we can all redefine who we are, which will evolve as we journey through life.
“Lasting change always requires a change in identity.” - Tony Robbins
Changing our identity through habits
Our identity is shaped by what we believe. Change our beliefs and habits, and we change our identity. In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear presents a model focusing on who you wish to become by developing identity-based habits.
The key is building identity-based habits to focus on who we wish to become.
New identities required new evidence. If you keep casting the same voites you’ve always cast, you’re going to get the same results you’ve always had. If nothing change, nothing is going to change.
It’s a simple two-step process:
Decide the type of person you want to be.
Prove it to yourself with small wins.
1. Let go of your past.
What got you here won’t get you there.
Accept that your past is irrelevant to today and who you can become.
Free your mind from the emotional handcuffs that serve as excuses to change.
2. Vividly visualize your future self in action.
Write a short story about how you will be living in your aspirational state in 3-6 months.
Identify the attributes you want to be described by others.
Make it aspirational and as detailed as you can.
Visualize yourself living a typical day or week.
Read your story periodically to convince yourself and take action toward your future self.
3. Listen to the hope of your future self.
Take in how you look and how you carry yourself.
Share how you are feeling right now with your future self – your challenges and limiting beliefs.
Look with the wisdom and eyes of your future self to see how your small self is stuck.
Listen to what you need to be more courageous, loving, and free.
Listen to what your future self wants you to know and trust.
Sense how the love and wisdom of your most evolved being lives within you now.
4. Practice being your future self today.
Understand that people judge and treat you by the appearance of your role.
Present your best front and play your role to maximum effect.
How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself.
Leverage the Strategy of the Crown – If we believe we are destined for great things, our belief will radiate outward, just as a crown creates an aura around a king.
Practice acting like a king (or queen) to be treated as one – be overcome by your self-belief.
5. Adopt the habits of the person you wish to become.
Changing your identity requires new evidence and deposits to become that person.
Decide the type of person you want to be.
Identify the behaviors that are exhibited by this type of person.
Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Experiment With This
Use subtle visuals in your home and workspace that reinforce hope and inspiration for your future self. How does it feel when you think about your future self?
Refine or write a story of your future self every three months. Look back on previous versions to see how far you have come. What do you feel is holding you back?
Catch yourself when limiting self-beliefs enter your mind or words. What facts or reality disprove these? Is how I am carrying myself limiting who I can become in the eyes of other people?
Envision your family, friends, or professional colleagues at a small gathering with other people. Your name comes up in conversation, and someone wants to know more about you. How do you want to be described?
Evolving into our future selves takes time, patience, and confidence. What is within your control to change? Are you unrealistically expecting external factors not within your control to change for you to make this transition?
New Identity: how do you describe your new professional brand that exudes your values, beliefs, and aspirational vision you have set for your life?
Value Proposition: given your new identity, how do you deliver value, to whom, and why is it unique?
What actions and visual signs will you use to brand this new identity into your mind and live it daily?
(Chapter 3 - RAIN Revales Your True Self)
(Law 25 – Re-create Yourself, Law 34 – Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to be Treated Like One)
(Law 3 – See Through People’s Masks: The Law of Role-Playing)
(Chapter 1 – Who Do You Want to Be?)
Rule II - Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that
Podcasts & Video
Meditation: Calling on Your Future Self (podcast by Tara Brach)