How to become the best version of yourself
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How to become the best version of yourself

How to become the best version of yourself

It is important to see yourself as the person you wish to become


Ever so often a moment arrives in life when the cosmos cries out for us to change. These are often turning points in life, sometimes caused by tragedy, other times by success, and in some cases through an awakening, be it intellectual, metaphysical, or other. In these moments, we reflect deeply on existential questions such as: ‘How can I become the best version of myself’, or ‘What legacy do I want to leave behind?’.

It is also in these moments we should consider our habits, because these are what become routine in our lives, our normal. Yet too often our lens is turned on the wrong thing. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear asks us to imagine changing our habits like layers of an onion.

The first layer is changing our outcomes. This level is concerned with results: losing weight; publishing a novel; winning a championship etc. Most goals we set in life are associated with this level of change.

The second layer is changing our processes. This level is concerned with our habits and systems: going on a diet; writing 1,000 words a day; implementing a new routine at the gym etc. Most of the habits we construct around us are associated with this level.

The third and deepest layer is changing our identity. This level is concerned with our beliefs: our worldview; how we see ourselves; and the judgments we make about ourselves as well as others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases we hold are associated with this level.

To quote Clear: “Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.”

Imagine two people refusing the urge to smoke a cigarette. The first person says, “No thank you, I’m trying to quit.” This sounds sensible, but this person still believes they are a smoker who is trying to be something else. The second person says, “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.” This response, though subtlety different, indicates a change in their identity (the third layer). They no longer regard themselves as a smoker.

With this approach, we start focusing on who we wish to become. When I started to see myself as a writer, my habits and systems formed around me, my family understood this is who I wanted to become. And the outcomes transpired, in the publication of my novels. I ended up publishing four novels in five years. Whereas at the start I had focused on the outcome (to publish a book) but hadn’t put the habits in place (write 1,000 words a day), nor did I have the belief.

Good habits make sense, but if they conflict with our identity, we fail to put them into action. For too long I didn’t commit to writing 1,000 words a day of fiction, because I didn’t believe I was a writer.

We also need to recognise that our identities change as we go through life. What you will be in your twenties, and then thirties, then forties, may well be very different. Aside from my day job, which pays the bills, outside of work I took on various roles. It wasn’t until my forties that I formed a new identity, which was that of a writer and educator.

Remember you are trying to become the best version of yourself. But who is that person? You must give yourself time to think about this, otherwise your quest for change at a seminal moment in your life will be like a boat without a rudder.

Rehan Khan is the managing consultant for BT and writer of historical fiction


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