The truth about motivation? It will eventually fizzle out. That’s why so many of us are pumped when starting to take on new habits but eventually give up on them over time. See, we can’t rely on motivation alone to become the next best version of ourselves because it is not a consistent and inexhaustible source.

If we want to pick up new habits that stick, they must be identity-based habits that aren’t fuelled by motivation alone.


According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, “the key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are – either consciously or subconsciously”.

In other words, Identity-based habits are formed around a person’s self-concept or identity. Unlike traditional habit formation methods that focus solely on changing behaviors, identity-based habits emphasize changing one’s self-perception or the way one sees themselves.

For example, instead of trying to adopt the habit of running every morning (behavior-based), someone might focus on becoming the type of person who values health and fitness (identity-based). By identifying as a “runner” or a “healthy person,” they are more likely to consistently engage in running as a habit because it aligns with their self-image.


To discover the identity-based habits you want to develop, you can ask yourself questions that delve into your values, aspirations, and self-concept. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What kind of person do I want to be?

  • What are my core values and principles?

  • How do I want others to perceive me?

  • What behaviors or habits would align with the person I aspire to be?

  • What activities or habits make me feel most fulfilled and aligned with my true self?

  • What do I admire in others, and how can I embody those qualities in myself?

  • What goals do I want to achieve in different areas of my life (e.g., health, relationships, career), and what habits would support those goals?

  • How do I want to contribute to my community or the world, and what habits would help me fulfill that vision?

  • What habits do I currently have that align with my desired identity, and which ones do not?

While these questions may be difficult to answer and take some time to reflect upon, the answers will show you who you need to become to get the results you want. It’s by answering these questions and actively shaping your self-concept that you can make lasting changes to their habits that are more deeply ingrained and sustainable.


Once you’ve identified who it is you want to be, you must start small and build momentum toward adopting identity-based habits that reflect that new identity.

The best way to do this is to keep track of the micro-habits and micro-achievements, i.e. small wins, that build up over time and act as evidence to yourself about the person you are.

For example, if you want to become strong, then part of your new identity is that you’re a person who always shows up for themselves at the gym. A small win to keep track of here is to consistently go to the gym every morning from Monday to Friday.

By keeping track of the small wins, you are essentially proving your new identity to yourself. Over time, these small wins will become bigger wins and you won’t even remember who you used to be.

To summarize, if you want to make a change in your life, you should shift your focus from the results you want to achieve and instead invest time into developing your new identity. By acting as this new person you want to become, you simply become this person – one action at a time.