Change Isn’t Just About Where You’re Going But About Who You’re Becoming—Here’s How to Develop Your Best Identity

UPDATED: May 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: September 23, 2021
Change Isn't Just About Where You're Going But About Who You're Becoming—Here's How to Develop Your Best Identity

It’s easy to say you’re ready to change. It’s even easier to throw yourself into a self-improvement project, buying dozens of books and courses to stimulate your growth. 

But planning your dream identity is only the first step. You can arm yourself with decades of knowledge, but you must put the lessons to work at some point. That’s what Anthony Trucks, former NFL player and best-selling author, realized in the thick of his most pressing challenges.

“I call it the epidemic of shelf-esteem…. If I do read the book or take the course, it stays on the shelf of my mind and never gets into my life,” Trucks says. “And so we wonder why only 1-3% of people actually succeed. It’s because the other ones are doing the things.”

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, Trucks talks to SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada about The Shift Method, a process for merging dreams with reality. Trucks’ new book, Identity Shift: Upgrade How You Operate to Elevate Your Life, helps readers bridge the gap between their current selves and the person they want to become.

Want a glimpse of that magical process? Here are three things you can do to become your best self.

1. Create your zone identity.

Life is easy when you’re in the zone. Traits you would typically work hard for, such as confidence and discipline, seem to flourish effortlessly. 

Getting into the zone is tricky, though. It feels like something that happens randomly, an existential gift you can’t predict or recreate for yourself. But that’s not entirely true. Shifting from one identity to a better one requires you to create that magic. For Trucks, that meant crafting a zone identity.

If being in the zone at work looks like increased productivity, reaching your zone identity is like winning the game of life. It’s you at your absolute best. That’s something you can reverse-engineer if you have the right components.

“Here’s one thing that most people have,” Trucks said. “They have an idea of the dream, but they do not have a vision. It’s kind of like saying, ‘I know the city, but I don’t know the address.’ So we never put in the true destination for the place we’re actually going.”

To create a clear vision, focus on these six areas that make up your zone identity:

  1. Beliefs
  2. Thoughts
  3. Actions
  4. Mindset
  5. Habits
  6. Ego

Beliefs, thoughts and habits are core components, Trucks says. You should be really clear on how you want each one to manifest in your life.

To start, think of someone you admire. Ideally, this person has achieved the things you want to accomplish and then some. 

  • What are their beliefs?
  • How do they train their minds to think about their goals? 
  • What have they done to reach success? 

These questions will reveal your zone identity. Crafting that vision is like having GPS coordinates for your dream life.

2. Give yourself permission to grow.

Of course, having the coordinates to any location is meaningless if you don’t know where you are. 

In terms of identity, not knowing where you are is the same as not knowing who you are. So before you can shift to your best self, it’s helpful to know the identity you’re turning away from. This usually takes deep self-reflection. You have to face whatever is inside of you, regardless of whether you find ugly truths or beautiful memories. Give yourself permission to confront it all.

“Permission is a hard thing,” Trucks says. “It usually means you have to go back and say, Hey, I sucked at this; I now need to get better at it. A lot of us, especially entrepreneurs, we’re supposed to be the head honchos, the big dogs. Nice shoes, clean clothes and houses. We don’t want to let anyone see us sweat. Because lo and behold, that might ruin my business. But if my business is great and my life sucks, I don’t want that.”

Remember the six components of your zone identity? For this exercise, pay close attention to number six, which is ego. If your hubris is shielding you from the truth, shifting to your best self will be impossible.

3. Accept feedback when things go wrong.

When you have your zone identity ready to go, and your ego is in check, what’s next? According to Trucks, it’s time to live your life. Take your newfound identity out into the world, and practice it in the presence of others. Feel what it’s like to operate at your highest self.

While you’re at it, let friends and family offer feedback. Allow them to call you out on your mistakes so that, in real-time, you can bridge the gap between your zone identity and your current self.

After that, it’s helpful to follow up with one question.

What will make the next moments of my life better?” Trucks asks. “It’s really clear that it’s not a question of, ‘What do I want to do next?’ It’s, ‘What will make the next moment [better]?’ Because what I want to do is very far away from what I need to do.”

In those moments, Trucks has done many things to correct his behavior. He has made apologies, cut off toxic people and began serious self-work. He says it often feels like he’s acting out of character by doing hard, unnatural things. But that’s kind of the point. Acting like a different person isn’t the disaster we think it is. The real question is which character are you stepping into? Is it progressing or digressing your life?

“A lot of The Shift Method is born of those moments of the things that I did,” Trucks says. “But [asking], ‘What would I have done better or faster or simpler?’…. The identity has to match the dream. So what do I have to do?”

Brilliant Thoughts with Tristan Ahumada is no longer releasing new episodes on the SUCCESS Podcast Network, but you can still listen to the full conversation below.

SUCCESS Newsletter offer
Lydia Sweatt

Lydia Sweatt is a freelance writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.