What defines you as a person? There are many different measurements. Some people measure themselves by their goals. Other people by their friends, career, interests or personality. I don’t think any of these metrics are that important.
I think the best gauge of who you are is what your day is like.
Your day isn’t just a routine, it’s an act of self-expression. When do you wake up? How do you work? What do you eat? What are your habits? What friends do you spend time with? All of these are decisions that define you as a person, far better than a list of goals or the results of a personality test.
Identity changes may sound abstract, but at the core, I think they are what everyone desires. You want to be happier, be wealthier, be more successful, be more fun, attractive, interesting or whatever goal you aspire towards. Most external goals aren’t really outside at all. Rather they are hopes that an external change will create a shift in who you are.
Redefining Your Day to Change Your Identity
Changing who you are is difficult. At least in the eyes of most people. That happens when you look at identity as some large, complex object that is rigid and always present. But if you look at the major source of your identity as your daily actions and decisions, all of this changes.
You can change who you are by changing your day. Changing tomorrow is a more attainable goal than trying to modify your entire life. Try seeing your identity as being more flexible and based more upon your current actions than the collections in your past.
By focusing on your daily actions as the core part of your identity, the focus shifts from changing everything to building tomorrow.
Consider these three for tomorrow:
These three categories are your day. Almost all aspects of your day under your control are going to fit somewhere between habits you perform, decisions you make and thoughts you have. Trying to change all of these things even for one day is impossible. But focusing on just one can have an impact.
Ben Franklin’s Virtuous Today
Look back at today (or yesterday if it is still in the morning for you). Look at the habits, decisions and thoughts that made up that day. Would you be proud if that sample defined you as a person? Would you like to look back in the calendar and pick another?
Benjamin Franklin created a checklist where he recorded his daily fulfillment of different virtues. He seemed to intuitively understand that who you are isn’t something big and lofty, but simple and practical. He attempted to make himself worthy of each day.
Live Each Day as if it Were Who You Are
“Live each day as if it were your last,” is a motivational phrase I wish would go away. Obviously you are going to make different decisions if you believe you won’t wake up tomorrow.
But how differently would you live if you believed that tomorrow represented who you are? I’m sure you’d still have bad days. You’d have days you worked constantly and days where you relaxed and had fun. All different representations of who you are. However, I doubt that you would let yourself do things that don’t mesh with who you want to be.
Does living with a daily identity change your life. No, probably not. And that’s precisely the point. You aren’t trying to change your life. You are trying to change the content of tomorrow and, more importantly, today. And isn’t that what really matters?