Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organisational psychologist known for providing fundamental advice on how to change your life for the better. Through his public speaking and various articles, he has amassed a great deal of information regarding how we see ourselves and how our internal image can be a double-edged sword when not fully understood. Through his talks titled “The 100% Rule That Will Change Your Life”, Hardy demonstrates how the act of fully committing to making a change can have a crucial impact on how we see the world around us.
Willpower isn't always enough
If we haven't fully committed to a decision, then each time we are placed in a new situation we then essentially have to remake that choice. This is risky, because more often than not the situation will win out over willpower alone. For example, if you are trying to cut down on your caffeine intake and a friend offers to buy you a coffee, you may then think “is it okay to do it this time?” You then have to fight against the social fears that come alongside this internal struggle, and it becomes far harder to say no. It's not that we don't try, just that each new day brings us new ways to contextualise the same questions, making it a constant struggle to really focus on the bigger picture.
If you make a decision, then that's it
When you decide on a major life change, the clearest indicator that you've been successful is you no longer consider other options. If you decide that you no longer want meat in your diet then you don't even think to order steak when at a restaurant. If you are still fighting with the choice, then you feel like the options are still available to you, which makes it harder to commit to what you really want.
When we talk about commitment, we have to consider the scope of how far we are willing to go in order to achieve our goals. According to Hardy, this can become far easier if you consider- “what would happen if I were to do this for the rest of my life?” If committing to something for your entire life scares you, then it may be that you are not truly committed to the goal. If you only commit for a set time period, you still see yourself as the same person that you were before you began that period of change. If you only commit to the choice temporarily, then has anything really changed?
Don't explain yourself, become who you want
We often assign labels to ourselves without even realising it. For example, if you say “I'm bad at remembering names” then this is something you believe is a part of your identity. From that moment onwards when you have trouble remembering a name, it just internalises this image you have of yourself. Rather than doing this, begin to align yourself with the image that you want to have, and gradually this will become how you see yourself.
You inform people according to your past- this is why I am the way that I am. This can lead to becoming stuck in an action and a self image. But if we were truly so set in our ways then nothing would ever get done. If we attempt to rewrite our internal framework of how we see ourselves, we are more likely to lean on the behaviours we want to see rather than the ones we are used to seeing.
In a study in Psychological Science, Kevin A. Hoff et al looked into how exactly changes in personality seen in teenagers would present themselves in adulthood. They found that key elements to an individual's personality such as conscientiousness and extraversion played an important role in later life success and job satisfaction. With this in mind, making extra effort to emphasise the traits we want to see could be a way of becoming the version of ourselves we really want to put out into the world.
Invest into your future self
According to Hardy, many people credit their success in changing their identity to a “point of no return” moment in their lives. One of the biggest ways that people can achieve this is through investing money into their future selves. Through making a financial investment into your goal you are essentially kick starting this process and forcing yourself to shift into a leadership role. Investing time and money into a project puts you in a position where you have no other option but to move forward. You cannot go back to the person that you were because your identity has fundamentally shifted.
You often find that when you buy something that you consider an investment, you can get the urge to replace other items to match. Or how getting a new piece of furniture in your room can prompt you to tidy up the area around it. Once we have begun that process of investing into something it can make us want to improve. Actions that once seemed completely out of reach now seem that little bit more likely, which can do wonders for our mindset.
Ultimately, it can be difficult to remember just how much control we have over our place in the world. Many of our subconscious habits are based on our past, and often frame how we see ourselves. Through a clearer understanding of how exactly we come to the conclusions we do, and the reasons why we do it, it gives us a little more room to start taking those steps towards our ideal self image. If one decisive action can be enough to change our lives for the better, then what's stopping us?
Timothy A. Judge (2006) The Five Big Personality Traits, General Mental Ability, and Career Success across the Life Span, Personnel Psych (online) Available: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00174.x