One of the big reasons people fail to reach or sustain their goals is that achieving that goal would clash with their self image.
Your brain does not allow you to comfortably behave in a way counter to your self-image, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative self-image.
This holds true no matter what you want to achieve. If you see yourself as broke you won’t be able to save money; as stressed to relax; as fat to lose weight; and so on.
Let’s use that last one as an example. Let’s say all day your self-talk is telling you that you are fat and unhealthy; this becomes part of your identity. One day you go to your doctor to review your latest blood test results, and he tells you that if you don’t lose some weight you could become very sick (reinforcing your self-image). He then gives you a diet plan to help you lose some weight. If you follow the standard approach of using will-power to force the change you will have a hell of a time sticking to it as you will always be undermining yourself by saying things like: “this is so hard for me”, “I can’t do this”, “I hate this food”, and eventually you will give up saying “this plan wasn’t for me”.
Instead; you have to become the kind of person for whom achieving your goal is inevitable. The first step in doing this is to change your self-image.
But changing your self-image isn’t as simple as doing a 180 in your self-talk and telling yourself the opposite message. You won’t believe your new message. If you were to just start saying “I am a fit and healthy person”, you are going to call yourself out on it “that’s not what the blood test said” and the new message won’t stick.
You have to take it in stages.
First you change your self talk to “I have excess fat”. This change from the word “am” to a possessive is very important because it severs the link between the problem and your identity. This will allow you to start making the necessary changes to your behavior without resistance.
After a couple of weeks the next step is to change the message into a positive heading towards your goal: “I have a shrinking belly”, this gives you encouragement to stick to your new behavior.
Finally, once you have started to see results you can start to create a new positive self-image, “I am a fit and healthy person”, but this time there is no rebuttal as you have evidence to back up this new statement.
And now reaching your goal is easy, because you now see yourself as the kind of person who follows the good behavior and for whom achieving this goal is inevitable.