Zen Habits has moved! Redirecting…

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit http://zenhabits.net and update your bookmarks.

zen habits: Pretend You're Who You Want to Be

Friday, March 9, 2007

Pretend You're Who You Want to Be

Every Friday is Happiness Friday at Zen Habits.

To be happy, it is important that we become happy with who we are -- accept ourselves, recognize our good traits, accept our flaws, and come to see those flaws as actually good and unique parts of us.

But if you're like me, there's always something we want to change -- and in keeping with the philosophy of this site, for me that's changing my daily habits to help me reach my goals. The problem is, many people just don't believe they are the type of person who can achieve that goal -- they have a negative self-image, and that negativity will stop them from success every time. Positive thinking is the key to any kind of achievement.

So today's quick happiness tip is simple: think about the goal you want to achieve, imagine the kind of person who has already achieved that goal or created that habit, and pretend you are that person.

Let's take a quick example: If I want to start running, to make running a daily habit, I think about runners I know or have read about. I read about their habits, their lifestyle, and imagine what it's like to be them. Then, I pretend I'm a runner myself. I think about what it's like to be a runner, how a runner would act, how a runner thinks and feels, what a runner's habits are.

I take the identity of a runner, and make it my own. Soon, I believe I'm a runner. And here's the magic: it becomes true! Just by pretending it, and assuming that identity, I become a runner. I think and act like one. And if I'm a runner, what do I do every day? I run.

This magical trick can work for any goal, and for any person. Imagine that you are that person, and you will be.

See also:


Wolfgang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wolfgang said...

*oops sorry, needed to edit that :D*

Hehe. It's funny because it is true.

For about a month now, I am keeping what I call an "Attraction Journal". In it, every day, I don't describe "what happened today" but what would have happened today, if everything were as I would want it to be. And I go all out on that. I go into great detail about work, living situation, house, car, money, relationship, whatever comes to mind.
Funny thing is, things start to sneak in there that *actually* happened, and sometimes I have a hard time noticing the difference. Just the other day I accidentally wrote "Attraction Journal" entries into my actual journal, and had to read through them a bit to figure out which ones did not belong there.
It is fascinating, and scary, and at the same time quite unremarkable - stuff just happens, and it's as if it was never different.

kamal said...

I like this. It's simple and powerful. I will do it. Thanks, Leo.

Mike in OKC said...


This is so very true. This is, of course, the premise of the motivation book of motivation books, by the father of motivation: THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill. Still the best. I's timeless.

Anonymous said...

err......it's timeless.

Leo said...

Wolfgang, Kamal and Mike ... thanks for the comments.

@Wolfgang: that attraction journal sounds like an excellent idea!

@Mike: I've never read Think and Grow Rick (though I've heard of it) but I'll admit that this isn't my original ideas. I've read it before and tried it, and it works.

Wolfgang said...

You are welcome. I felt compelled to comment, because you describe so succinctly what I have been thinking about for months now. Hell, maybe even years, who keeps count.
Napoleon Hill was also a major goalpost on my way to this insight, though I will admit the man strays a bit from the main topic in his book at times ;) Still a good read.
The modern name for this whole phenomenon is "Law of Attraction", hence the name of my journal.

Mike in OKC said...


You are SO right about Napoleon Hill's book, "straying." I have had many friends read the book and was expecting something a little more like a business book. In fact, because of the "Master Mind Groups," if that book came out today they would probably put it in the New Age section!

Great blog, Leo!!