Earlier this month, prior to the NFL playoff-opening game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Oilers (a convincing Colts victory), Indy QB Andrew Luck, when asked to describe his teams’ remarkable comeback season under first year coach Frank Reich, replied, “Frank’s willingness to surrender the result to the process has been the biggest difference-maker in our season.”

I found Luck’s comments fascinating–and a great illustration of what I call “the difference maker” in living a life of influence and impact.

As we launch into 2019, many of us have plans for change in the coming year. We don’t want to stay the same, we want things to be different–better–in the key areas of our lives. But how do we get there and where do we start?

Do we set written goals as traditional self-improvement literature would suggest? What about resolutions or intentions, or crafting a personal mission statement?

While all of these may indeed have value, here’s a simpler albeit challenging alternative based on the latest insights from some of the top leaders and thinkers in the leadership space.

The BIG IDEA: Before you can have any chance at setting goals that truly work for you, there are three key elements that need to exist in your life in 2019. Here’s the first:

1. An Identity to Change

In his New York Times Best Selling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear devotes an entire chapter to the vital importance of identity change before behavior change. Clear says, “Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.”

Focusing on the “who” before the “what” challenges you to shift the belief behind the behavior, and this causes you to think differently about yourself. Here are some examples:
• The goal is not to read more books, but to become a reader.
• The goal is not to run a half-marathon, but to become a runner.
• The goal is not to lose 20 lbs, but to become a fit and healthy person.

Do you see the difference?

For me, this year, I want to become a person who has time for people and gives them my full presence and attention. I realize that often I act like I’m in a perpetual hurry, when I’m really not–it’s a habit I’ve developed in my adulthood due to a driven, intense personality.

Who do you want to become this year?

To get you thinking, start by finishing this sentence: “I want to become a person who….”
• Brings out the best in others?
• Is financially free?
• Leads by example?
• Appreciates and seeks out candid feedback?

Identity shapes actions.

Here’s a recent review of Atomic Habits describing how the reader re-framed his identity to change his unhealthy lifestyle:
“I stopped eating unhealthy food via identity change,” he wrote. “I tried many times in the past, but it became easy—natural—only after I had made the conscious decision that I want to be someone who eats healthy. Instead of aiming for I want to stop– eating bad food–I tried changing my mindset to someone who eats healthy and lives a healthy life. It changes how you approach things.”

As you consider all the possibilities for your life in 2019 in your journey to becoming the best version of yourself, I encourage you to spend some focused time reflecting on who you want to become this year.

How can you reframe one of your main goals to focus on the “who” (the identity) before the “what” (the behavior)?

How can this shift help you better define–and achieve–who you want to become this year?

I recently joined Christal Frost for a thoughtful discussion on this very topic. Take a listen below.

Ready for Part 2? Check it out here!