Are there habits that you want to change? Maybe you’ve even tried to change them and you keep struggling, you keep coming back to the familiar habits that are keeping you from the results that you want in life.
If so, you’re going to love today’s episode because I’m going to share with you the secret to changing your habits. So, let’s dive in.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
Well, hello, my beautiful friends. Can you believe we are almost at the end of the year? Where has this year gone? It’s been crazy fast. And I’m already thinking about 2022 and the goals that I have and who I’m excited to become.
And no matter what our goals are, the chances are, we’re going to have to change our habits in order to reach them. And so, today, I want to tell you the secret to changing your habits.
One of the questions that I get asked often is, “Tonya, how did you lose weight?” For those of you who may be new to me, you haven’t listened to many episodes of this podcast, just a little backstory. I used to weigh 75 pounds more than what I weigh now. And I struggled with my weight for years, off and on dieting, deprivation, binging, you name it.
And like so many people, I would focus on the outcome, the weight I wanted to be and what did I need to do to reach that weight. Well, I needed to exercise more, I needed to eat less, I needed to eat different foods. And so, I would work really hard to try to establish those habits. But I would always go back to my usual way of being.
The same applies to money. For so many years, I wanted to be a financially savvy woman. I wanted to have my finances in order. I wanted to save more, earn how to invest. I had this idea of what I wanted to do with money. And I would focus on the habits that I thought I needed to create in order to do that.
And without fail, over time, I would ignore my statements. I would overspend. And I just kept recreating the same result over and over again. And I think about many of my past goals where I struggled. And this is why.
Whenever you focus on the outcome, you’re not focused on the secret to changing your habits. And that is to change your identity. This is why I love teaching self-image. Because when you evolve your self-image, what you’re really doing is you are changing your identity. You’re expanding your self-image and therefore you’re expanding what is possible for you.
Your current habits and behaviors and results that you are creating in your life are simply a reflection of your current self-image, your current identity. This is why I struggled to lose weight.
I know everybody wants the secret. They’re like, “Tell me what you eat. Tell me how you did it.” That is not the question you should be asking me, my friends. You should be asking me, who did I become? Because that’s really what it boiled down to.
And I’ll never forget, having this realization as I was reading another diet book, naturally slim people don’t read diet books. It’s the people who are struggling with their weight and overweight who are consuming diet books.
And I realized that by reading these diet books and engaging in that diet culture behavior, I was just reconfirming an identity about myself that I had a problem. And then, I was really good at proving that problem true.
This is also why it was so hard to change my habits. It felt like I was white-knuckling it, barely hanging on until I’d lost all willpower. And then, next thing you know, I’m looking for the Cheetos in the pantry.
It’s because it wasn’t who I had become. I still had the identity of someone who struggled with my weight. That was my self-image. And so, while I could lose some weight, I would inevitably put it back on to reconfirm how I saw myself.
And again, same with money, I saw myself as someone who struggled with money. So, my habits were confirming that over and over again. This is why, if you want to change your habits – and your habits are creating the results in your life, the things that you do over and over day after day, they add up. It’s like a cumulative effect to create the result of your life.
And if you want to change your habits, instead of focusing on the habit, focus on becoming the person who that’s just naturally what they do. That’s why the secret to creating habits is to change your self-image.
Whenever I have a goal, I like to think about, what are the habits that I need to practice to reach that goal? Then the question becomes, who do I need to be to naturally do those things? And then that becomes my focus – not the goal. Not the habit – on becoming that version of myself, evolving my self-image. Because then, naturally, I’m going to do those things.
So, here’s a more recent example. Last year, I decided that I wanted to get fit. I have been somewhat active. Like, I like to go on walks and do little exercises around the house. But I wanted to take it up a notch. And to be honest, I felt like I had no choice because I was starting to have hip pain from a previous back injury and I just visualized my life five, 10 years from now.
If I didn’t change my habits, it was not going to be good. And so, I decided I was going to get in shape. Now, this is where most people stop. And I want you all to be thinking about this as you enter into the new year, because I know many of you are going to be setting your new year’s resolutions and your goals for the year.
This is super important for you to understand because most people are like, “Okay, I’m going to get in shape this year.” But that isn’t my focus. My focus becomes being the woman who is in shape, taking on that identity. Because if I can practice being her and seeing myself as a fit woman, having that identity, then naturally I’m going to work out. Naturally, I’m going to do all the things that a fit woman does. And then, the results come from that.
I’ve seen this happen to my clients and I’ve certainly fallen prey to this as well. But we depend on motivation to keep us going. We’ll watch the exercise videos. We’ll read the motivational quotes. And that will keep us going for a while. But then, eventually, you burn out. Why? Because you didn’t focus on what you should have been focusing on. And that is changing your self-image to match the result that you want to have.
I did the same work around my style. I deeply wanted to be a stylish woman because, believe it or not, y’all, I haven’t always dressed this way. I did not get the best-dressed award in high school. No, I was not stylish at all.
But ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been intrigued by women who just had a sense of style about them. They knew what they wanted to express and they did it so well through their clothing and how they carried themselves. It was a desire of mine.
And so, what I did is I focused on taking on that identity. Now, most people, when they have that kind of goal for themselves, they will think about going to the store and getting some cute outfits. They may even purchase them. And they may even wear them a few times.
But inevitably, if they don’t evolve their self-image, they will resort back to choosing the same clothes that they’ve always worn. Why? Because we will always work to prove ourselves true, which is why you must focus on changing your identity if you want to reach goals and to create results in your life. This is the part we often miss.
So, when it came to being a stylish woman, every day, I would wake up and I would say, “Okay, what does the stylish version of me pick out to wear today? How does she carry herself? How does she communicate?” Because all of those things are a part of style.
And so, I started to get small wins. And I started to create evidence of me being a stylish woman. And doing that day after day, over time, you change your self-image. It just becomes who you are. Now, for me, it’s just natural for me to put on a nice outfit. It’s natural for me to go into a store and just know what works on me and what doesn’t because I’ve been practicing being a stylish woman for so many years.
Let’s go to the money example because I know many of you are wanting to have a better relationship with money. Maybe you want to earn more money. Maybe you want to be better with your money.
So, what we often do is we’ll set goals for ourselves. Like, “I want to pay off $50,000 in debt. I want to make $100,000 a year. I want to spend less money eating out.” Like, we’ll have some kind of money goal. And we’ll focus on doing that goal. And we’ll find that it’s very hard. And then, before we know it, we’re back to our old spending habits, earning habits, saving habits, same old money habits.
Why? Because you didn’t become the woman who just naturally does that. So, the work that we do within the School of Self-Image is we set the goal, but then our focus becomes on being the woman who has reached that goal, taking on that new identity, practicing it every day, getting those small wins, proving it to ourselves, collecting the evidence and then, over time, it’s just naturally what you do.
The debt is paid off and you don’t go back into debt over things, unless it’s an intentional choice, because you have an identity of, “I’m a woman who doesn’t go into debt.” And you will always seek to prove your identity true.
Or maybe, it’s around earning, and you practice being a woman who earns $100,000 a year. And you practice it to the point that you earn $100,000 a year and it’s just who you are, it’s just what you do.
And let me tell you why not only is this way more effective, number one, on reaching your goals and creating results in your life, the other thing I love about this is that there’s a relaxation in it.
I remember practicing being a naturally slim woman so much that I didn’t even worry about it. There was a moment where I was like, “I do not have to worry about my weight again.” Because it’s just not who I am anymore. The same has happened with me around money. I just don’t have to worry about money anymore because I have an identity around money and I just know how the brain works. I know how the universe works. I understand energy.
And because I’ve focused on my identity versus the actions of the habits, I just know that it’s going to take care of itself. Which is why, to create new habits, to get the results that you want, you must focus on changing your identity, evolving your self-image to be the person who does that just by default.
We all have a default. And that default is in alignment with our self-image. Sometimes, our default is to overeat. Some of our default is to argue. Some of our default is to work. Some of our default is to go and work out. Some of our defaults is to go and look for the positive. We all have defaults.
And if you look, those defaults all confirm our self-image. And so, to live an intentional life, you have to change those defaults. And I’m all for defaults if they’re supporting you, right? But most of our defaults are based on the past. They’re based on things that have happened that formed our current thoughts and beliefs and we just default to the things that are familiar and confutable, and we have to change our defaults to be something that’s supportive, that it’s just what we do.
But this process does take time. You have to work on changing your identity. It is a daily practice. It’s not something you just decide and, magically, “I’m a now woman.” I wish it were that easy. And maybe for a few people in the world, it is. But for the majority of us, we have to really practice it. We have to be intentional. We have to show up and we have to take new actions. And then, we have to feel the discomfort that comes along with changing your identity.
And that is the hardest part; feeling the discomfort of letting go of the old and becoming the new. But if you want to change your habits, I’m telling you all, this is the secret. Focus not on the outcome. Don’t focus on the habit itself. But focus on changing your identity.
Every morning, wake up, “Who do I want to be today?” And then, once you’ve decided that, then the work is to take action to create evidence to support that answer. And you do that day after day. Over time, you’ve created a new identity where the habits just occur naturally because that’s just who you are.
So, as we approach a new year – we have a few weeks still – I want you to keep this in the back of your mind when you’re thinking about what you want to create in 2022, the goals that you have, the results that you want to achieve. I want you to ask yourself, “Who do I need to become? What identity do I need to take on to make this effortless? To make this easier? To make this certain?”
Because when you change your self-image, when you create that new identity, naturally the results will follow because you will always seek to prove yourself true; always. Okay, my friends, that’s all for this week. Can’t wait to see you in next week’s episode. Cheers.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to http://www.schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.