The Subtle Power of Changing Your Identity

By Leo Babauta

One of the most powerful switches I ever made when changing my entire life was switching up my identity.

And while I never did it overnight, I successfully did it in multiple areas:

There are dozens of other examples: as a father, unschooling parent, early riser, reader, teacher, speaker, entrepreneur, someone who takes meticulous care of his finances … every time I’ve made a major (or minor) life change that stuck, I changed my identity.

It’s more powerful than most people realize, and it’s doable.

The Subtle Benefits of Changing Your Identity

While it takes a little work, if you can shift how you see yourself … you’ll likely notice some of these benefits that aren’t obvious to most people:

There are more benefits, but I’m going to let you discover them on your own. By now, it’s probably best to get to the How.

How to Change Your Identity

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch and bam presto! You’re a new person. However, it’s eminently doable.

It can be done a million different ways, but here are some points I’ve found important:

Again, there are many other things you can do. As your new identity, you’ll think of them! The How actually works itself out once you start to Be the new identity.

A Caveat: Don’t Fix Your Identity & Become Rigid

It’s important to note that creating a new identity for yourself – seeing yourself in a new way – can also. have some pitfalls. A big one is that you might create a fixed, rigid view of yourself.

For example, if you create a new identity of yourself that you’re an early riser, that could come with the rigidity that you’ll never stay up late or sleep in a little. And if your family has a gathering that’s later in the evening, you might just pass – not because it will impact anything important, but because of a rigid view of yourself.

There are lots of other possible examples: if I always work hard, then I can’t take a rest; if I am an expert in my field, then I can’t ever admit I’m wrong.

We don’t want our view of ourselves to limit us always. Some limits are helpful, if they’re chosen consciously (i.e. a limit of no meat means I don’t harm animals). Other limits can be unhelpful, if they don’t let us do what would be beneficial in a situation.

So while shifting identity can be helpful, I encourage you to not be too rigid. Think of your identity as fluid, something you can shift as needed, consciously.

Next Steps

I encourage you to pick one area at a time. Don’t try to shift everything about yourself. Choose one, and apply the steps above.

I am compassionate about myself.

I write every day.

I am a loving parent.

What would you like to try on?