What Does Your Day Say About You?


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.

Building Tomorrow

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:

  • Habits
  • Decisions
  • Thoughts

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?

  • Faisal Basonbul

    Hey Scott!! There’s saying about this exact same subject by the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. It goes: “Work for this life as if you lived forever, and work for the afterlife as if you will die tomorrow”.

  • Ryan Kudasik

    You know, I hardly ever finish reading any of your posts.

    At first you might be offended, but this is actually a compliment.

    I start reading your posts when I should be working. Then you write these motivating posts about making the most of myself. Then before I’m even finished reading the post I’m spurred on to actually work and be productive.

    (by the way I actually do finish reading your posts)

  • Dan Sage

    Great post. I realize that you’re speaking of the character development of any average person, but I also wanted to point out that what you said can have a particular impact on those that are struggling to make huge changes in their life, including overcome addiction. I know so many people that try and change themselves over and over again and struggle because they continually fail, but if they are simply to focus on their habits, decisions, and thoughts for the day, who they want to become will take care of itself. It seems like they get overwhelmed when trying to tackle the whole thing. Great post. And I completely agree with the changes you’ve made to “Live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” That just isn’t practical to live that way.

  • Scott Young


    That’s why I mentioned it at the bottom. I think much of this philosophy matches closely with the AA “one day at a time” approach. I’ve never had a serious addiction, but hopefully the idea can help.

  • Diego

    I was once told the addicts consist of a small percentage of the population but affect pretty much everyone. I do not know if the statistics are accurate but in the US, there are maybe 2% of the drivers on the road under the influence of alcohol. That 2% cause 50% of all fatal accidents (with cell phones rapidly catching up). How does someone who isn’t an addict cope with that?

  • Mighty Morgan

    Finally……….A nice refreshing viewpoint. I loved the way you broke this down. I know for myself I tend to get caught up in a struggle with self, trying to define who I am without a basis for definition…..I get caught up in the details…and can literally drive myself NUTS. Sometimes its nice to discover those who know how to say whats been said..but in a way that it has not been said before…good stuff.

  • Dave

    Thanks for your blog and the helpful insights!

    ~ Dave