Habits for Who You Want to Be

A top-ten favorite book of mine is Your Next Five Moves authored by Patrick Bet-David.

One of my main takeaways was a concept Patrick calls, “your future truth.” Speaking in a future state as if it were the current state. Since reading this book, I’ve employed this in many areas of my life, and it’s had a remarkable impact on my fulfilling future goals at an accelerated pace. I talk about myself consistently in my future state. What I will be accomplishing and milestones I am working on and believing they will materialize.

Obviously, there’s a fine line between exercising the power of trafficking in your “future truths” and embellishment or outright lying.

You have to decide for yourself where your own fine line exists, but I’ve discovered firsthand the power of living in my future truth and its impact on my mindset, my behaviors, and ultimately my results.

James Clear, in his blockbuster book, Atomic Habits (an unbelievable five million copies sold in three years), describes the relationship between our identities and our habits. James suggests we think of ourselves as what we want to become—in the future. Identify ourselves as a successful entrepreneur, a published author, a marathoner (a winning marathon runner), or a successful Etsy artist. The words we speak, not only to others, but perhaps most importantly to ourselves, have a significant impact on our beliefs and our behaviors, thus forming our habits. James writes that, “The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.” Further he says, “Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity. What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe that you are, either consciously or unconsciously.”

Take a few minutes and identify what you want for yourself, specifically related to your identity.

Do you want to become a lay minister in your religious faith? A substitute teacher at your local elementary school? A member of the mixed-doubles tennis team at your local recreation center or country club? Perhaps it’s to become a pastry chef or just a better entertainer in your home. Maybe it’s even closer to home, literally: you want to be a better parent, spouse, or partner.

Regardless of how simple or grandiose the new identity might seem to you, visualize and name the identity to yourself, then start to write down the behaviors associated with that identity. I’ll take a risk and share one here: I want to be a better father to my three sons, ages 7, 10, and 11. (And they want this from me also, I’m quite certain.)

Here are some behaviors that can (and will) absolutely become habits of mine—thus fulfilling this new identity for me.

  • Power off my phone when I’m at a meal with them—at home or in a restaurant.
  • Stop scheduling calls during the 12-minute drive to and from school.
  • Speak firmly, but more kindly, when I ask them to perform a task or chore.
  • Spend less time focused on parenting tasks they don’t see (but are important in the long term) and more time on the parenting tasks they do see (that are important in the short term). I think too long term with respect to most of my parenting. They may not be speaking to me at their Stanford Law School graduation if I don’t balance them better.
  • Suffer through a few more (okay, any) movies on the weekends with them (I don’t like watching movies and they know it).
  • Stop confusing errands, meals, and shopping as quality relationship-building time. They want to play, laugh, and do naughty things with me.
  • Dedicate some quiet time to better understand their individual needs and identities, so I can place them in specific situations to build those habits.

There’s a lot more I could do, but this list would transform my identity as a better father, both in my eyes and theirs within days.

Maybe try the same task. What’s your identity and what precise behaviors could you employ, beginning today, to make your future truth become a reality?

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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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