If you’re the analytical type like me, then you’ve probably asked yourself this question:

How is it that some people are able to stay consistent over the long run and thus become more and more successful at whatever they do while others have a very hard time sticking to a training program (or anything else for that matter) for more than 2 weeks.

How is it that professional guitarists are able to practice their craft for 12 hours a day, day after day, while wannabe guitar players only play whenever they feel like it and thus never reach that pro level?

How is it that professional bodybuilders are able to stay consistent with such time-demanding nutrition plans (which honestly are a pain in the ass) and with such gruelling training sessions while the average gym-goer can’t seem to go for more than 3 weeks without skipping the gym?

Or in other words, what separates the pros from the wannabes in their ability to stay consistent?

Well, after studying success and failure for a long time I’ve come to the conclusion that what enables one to stay consistent over the long haul is not motivational videos and pep talks.

Instead it is something much more fundamental:

The Key To Consistency: Your Identity

Forged by the beliefs we hold about ourselves, our identity is the single most important factor in determining whether we’re consistent in whatever we do or not.

This concept really explains how I went from 165 to 200 pounds from October 2013 to May 2014 while I lived in Portugal.

Simply put, in that period my life revolved around the gym.

I worked up to training 5 times a week without missing a single session for months. Every 3 hours I had my meal, no exceptions. Every single night I got my 8 hours of sleep and every afternoon I took my power nap as if it was the law.

I also quit drinking alcohol cold turkey.

But what I did was simply a reflection of who I was.

I was simply… the gym guy.

(In fact, at one home party my friends wrote on my t-shirt: “gym and protein | not drinking guy”)

the gym guy

You see, the same way fish swim and birds sing, I work out.

It’s just what I do. It’s a part of me – literally a part of my identity.

In fact it would be weirder for me to not work out, it would just be… unnatural.

And really, that’s what it takes to go pro.

You need to make your craft an inseparable part of you. You need to live and breathe it.

And guess what – when you do… something cool happens:

It becomes easy to be consistent.

It’s really easy for me to go to the gym nowadays. I don’t need to watch motivational videos. I don’t need to be accountable to a training partner.

I. Just. Show. Up.

It’s just what I do. My identity is the primary factor that drives me forward in my fitness journey.

And if you are to turn pro (and reap the benefits of it), then you’d better make the gym lifestyle a part of your identity too.

…But can you?

Can you, in fact, change your very identity?

Aren’t you just… stuck being you?

Identity: A Slow-Moving Liquid

Yes, in fact, you can!

Luckily for us, our identity is liquid, albeit a slow-moving one.

Scientists call this ability of the brain neuroplasticity:

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain’s way of tuning itself to meet your needs.”

It’s thanks to neuroplasticity that you’re able to adopt new behaviours and skills, as the more you repeat them, the more you strengthen those neural pathways.

Even more amazing is the mechanism by which your identity is shaped.

It turns out that after you take an action your brain literally backwards rationalizes your self-image to conform to said action.

Meaning that if, for example, I sign a petition supporting safe driving, I will automatically start viewing myself as the type of person who takes a civic stand and cares about the matter, and as such I will be much more likely to comply with further (bigger) requests on the matter.

In psychology this is known as consistency and commitment bias.

We humans hate uncertainty, and as such we are designed to stay consistent with our past actions.

What all of this means is that the more you visit the gym, the more you read gym-related articles and the more you immerse yourself in the gym lifestyle – the more you will start identifying with it.

Over time it will become a part of you and you will no longer struggle to stay consistent with your nutrition and workouts.

I do realize that this article gives you no easy answers as to how to change your identity, but you have to realise that there are not shortcuts.

Your identity can’t completely shift in a day. And with good reason.

But focus on getting each day right and you’ll get the month right. Focus on getting each month right and you’ll get the year right.

And at some point during this process you’ll adopt the gym lifestyle as a part of your very identity.

In Conclusion:

If you’re struggling wih consistency, then change your habits and then let them change you.

I hope that after reading this article you realize that the powerful concepts discussed above can be applied not only in the gym, but in any other endeavour.

The secret of the pros is in who they are, not in what they do.

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