Last week I recorded a podcast episode on the 10 ways we unknowingly block ourselves from success. And when I was recording that podcast episode, I couldn’t help but be struck by all the ways I’ve been stopping myself from achieving my goals without even realising it.
For one, I’ve been attached to my main goal to the point of desperation (which doesn’t exactly give off the vibe of gratitude and abundance I’ve been trying to go for) – persistence and determination are one thing but being needy is another! And there’s a certain type of magic that only happens when you’re working towards your goals without being desperate (which I spoke about last week in my series on the Law of Attraction, if you’d like to know more about that).
I’ve also been spending an extortionate amount of time stressing and worrying about what I don’t want to happen and what I don’t have, rather than what I do. Which feels practical but, unsurprisingly, just creates more of what I don’t want. And it’s been a bummer to realise that the way I’ve been thinking has only been perpetuating the problem!
But the biggest thing that struck me was my unhelpful beliefs about the kind of person I am. For YEARS, I’ve been labelling myself as one thing or another as though I’m merely observing the facts. When all the while, I’ve been stopping myself from achieving the goals I’ve been working so tirelessly towards.
So this week I’m going to be talking about the power of self-image, because god only knows it’s frustrating AF to spend so much conscious effort working towards a goal whilst you’re subconsciously undermining your own attempts. If self-sabotage is the symptom, self-image is the cause. And I’ll be sharing why, and how to reshape your self-image, in this week’s series. I hope you find it helpful!
TRANSFORM YOUR SELF-IMAGE TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
Self-image, as you might have guessed, is the opinion you have about the kind of person you are. It’s what you believe you can and cannot achieve, you do and do not like, you will and will not tolerate etc. And by the time we’re in our twenties, we talk about ourselves as though we’re just reporting the weather – not realising that the way we do and don’t identify ourselves has a HUGE impact on our actions and, in many cases, is the very thing that stops us from achieving our goals (or causes us to self-sabotage once we do).
So why is self-image so powerful? What does your opinion of yourself have to do with your goals?
Well, for one, your brain is always searching for information to validate your beliefs (thanks to your Reticular Activating System, which I talk about in this blog post). So if you believe you’re a certain kind of person, your brain will filter the information around you in a way that proves that to be true. And therefore, your belief will be strengthened and you will continue to act in accordance with that belief.
But not only that. As humans, we LOVE being right. And if there’s one thing we always want to be right about, it’s ourselves. Nothing is more uncomfortable than realising we don’t know who we really are, so we do everything in our power to make sure that our reality is consistent with our beliefs about ourselves. We look for evidence to confirm our self-image is right, dismiss evidence that goes against our self-image and self-sabotage so we can hold onto our self-image. Even if we REALLY want to achieve our goal. And it’s actually kinda crazy!
If you’ve been struggling to achieve a goal, it’s likely that your self-image is in direct conflict with you achieving your goal. And until you start to see yourself as the kind of person that can achieve your goal, you will create a struggle so you can be right about yourself. Even if you’re determined to achieve it! I’ll give some examples so you know what I mean:
If you’ve been trying to eat healthy but you believe you’re the kind of person that has to eat everything in sight, you’ll eat everything in sight so you can be right about yourself. If you’ve been trying to wake up early but you believe you’re the kind of person that always snoozes the alarm 10 times, you’ll snooze the alarm 10 times just so you can be right about yourself. If you’re trying to be on time but you believe you’ll the kind of person that’s always late, you’ll be late just so you can be right about yourself. And on the rare occasions that you do surprise yourself, you’ll dismiss them as being out of character just so you can hold onto your self-image.
This all happens subconsciously, of course. And consciously, you really will be trying your hardest to stick to your new habit or achieve your goal. But unless your self-image is in alignment with you achieving your goal, you won’t achieve it. Or you’ll self-sabotage when you do. So it really is SO important that you take a look at your self-image and begin to do the work to have it match your goals.
HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR SELF-IMAGE
Depending where you’re at on your personal development journey, changing your self-image this might sound like wishful thinking. But a belief is just a thought you’ve had over and over again. And if you look up the definition of belief, it’s literally an acceptance that something is true or exists, especially one without proof. So if your beliefs are made up anyway, you may as well make them helpful. Am I right?
I’ve created a free workbook to help you work through the process I share in this blog post, so make sure you download a copy of it as it’s really going to help you put all of this into practice in your own life. You can click here to download it and you’ll be sent a copy straight away!
STEP 1. CHOOSE A GOAL
If you haven’t already got a goal in mind, now is the time to create one!
Make sure it’s specific and clear (e.g. lose weight is vague, lose 2.5kg in 8 weeks is specific and clear; wake up early is vague, wake up at 5:30am every morning is specific and clear; be good with money is vague, add $1,000 to my savings account every month is specific and clear). And make sure it’s something that you genuinely want to achieve (you’d be surprised how many goals we set just because we think we should).
STEP 2. INCREASE YOUR SELF-AWARENESS
Now that you’ve got your goal, most people would usually just try to figure out how to achieve it and then get to work. And that’s why we usually fail to stick at our goals for long! If you’ve got beliefs that are going to undermine your efforts, they need to be uncovered before you get started.
So this step is to uncover all of the beliefs you have around the kind of person you are when it comes to your goal. I’ve created a free workbook that will help you go through this properly but begin to think about the statements you say to your family and friends about the kind of person you are in relation to your goal. Think along the lines of statements that start with “I’m just not the kind of person who could…”, “I couldn’t live without…”, “I always struggle to…”.
This also includes things that you say to diminish your character just to make people feel better about themselves (e.g. when someone compliments you on eating healthy you say something like “oh I don’t always eat this healthy” just to make them feel better – I find myself doing this all the time and it is NOT helpful).
STEP 3. CREATE YOUR NEW SELF-IMAGE
Now that you’ve had a look at how you’ve been identifying yourself, it’s time to create a new self-image that you can live into from here on in. Remember, while it’s human nature to want to be consistent with the way you’ve acted in the past, you don’t need to look to the past for evidence of who you are. And it’s great to get into the habit of looking into the future instead!
It might be challenging to think of the beliefs you’ll need to have in order to achieve your goal without self-sabotaging so it’s always helpful to think of someone you know (whether in real-life or not) that would find it easy to achieve that goal. Create a list of all of the beliefs they have about the kind of person they are.
For example, if your goal was to wake up at 5:30am every morning then you would think of someone you know that wakes up early. They would likely believe that they’re a morning person, they would believe that they know how to get up at 5:30am, they would believe that they can get up early even if they feel tired (btw this last one is one of the most powerful beliefs you can have if you want to wake up early).
STEP 4. ACT AS IF
Next, begin to act as if you’re that person. In this week’s podcast episode I talk about how I’m doing this with all sorts of goals in my own life. But begin to imagine yourself as that kind of person and do the things that kind of person would do. When you act in accordance with your new self-image, consciously tell yourself that that’s normal behaviour for you. When you act against your new self-image, consciously tell yourself that that’s out of character for you.
It sounds kinda forced, I know. But it makes a huge difference. And eventually, you won’t need to consciously tell yourself anything as you will have repeated your new thoughts enough times that they become the new autopilot.
The other thing I want to say is that when you begin to act as this new person, there will be loving and well-meaning people in your life that will try to tempt you back into your old self-image. Most people (myself included) want everyone around them to act predictably, so that we can have that sense of certainty when we’re going about our day. So when you start doing things you didn’t do in the past, people will say things like “that’s not like you” or “are you feeling ok?” or “you’ve changed” or “why have you started doing this all of a sudden” or “here we go again”.
At this point, you can choose either to go back into your old self-image – which will be the easy option, especially if you’re a people pleaser. Or you can say “I’m not that kind of person anymore” or make some excuse for your new behaviour if you’re not comfortable with being so direct. And after a while, people will accept that you’re not the old you anymore (also it will just get boring for them to keep making the same comments). But just know that there will be a certain period of time that people will tempt you to keep being the same as you used to be. And you don’t have to give in. You’ve got this girl!
STEP 5. PERSIST UNTIL SUCCESS
The final step is persistence until success. It will take time to recalibrate your self-image, especially if you’ve believed that you’re a certain kind of person for a long time. That’s normal. Keep at it. And it’s ok if you stumble around and make mistakes but don’t use that as evidence that you’re not capable of changing because you DEFINITELY are.
THE POWER OF SELF-IMAGE
In this week’s podcast episode, I share the beliefs I have about myself that have been stopping me from achieving my goals and the beliefs I have about myself that have been helping me achieve my goals – all without me realising it! I also chat about what I’m doing to change my self-image to align with my goals and what the process has been like in my experience (since it’s not always smooth and easy).
I originally tried to write this out in the blog post but realised I could share much more in a podcast episode, so that’s what I decided to do! You can listen to the episode below or wherever you listen to podcasts, just search for Episode 26 of The Smart Twenties Podcast.
3 REASONS YOU AREN’T ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS
I filmed a YouTube video to share three reasons that you aren’t achieving your goals. In the video, I share three of the ways that you might be undermining your hard work without even knowing it. If you’ve already listened to my podcast episode last week on 10 Ways You’re Unknowingly Blocking Success, this video will help you find a few more things you might be doing without realising it (the podcast episode covers completely different things).
READY TO TRY IT?
If you’re ready to start changing your self-image so it aligns with your goal, make sure you download my free workbook that will walk you through the entire process. Click Here to be sent your free copy and fast track your success!
I also just want to briefly mention that, along with self-image, there are other kinds of limiting beliefs that can stop us from achieving our goals. Like the belief that we will be abandoned if we make lots of money, for example. I haven’t gone into those kinds of beliefs in this week’s series because I feel as though self-image is so rarely discussed in this way and I wanted to really focus on it. But in a future series I will be covering limiting beliefs more generally. Just wanted to let you know!
HAVE A QUESTION?
Let me know in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!