5 Steps to Changing Your Identity and Upgrading Your Life

how to improve self image

Hey, I'm Emilie!

A certified life coach, meditation instructor, and spiritual entrepreneur. I’m here to help you create a vibrant life around your higher purpose and heart’s desires. 

To Improve Your Life, You Must First Improve Your Self-Image and Build a New Identity

If you’ve ever tried to make any significant change in your personality or lifestyle, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not an easy task.

Whenever we set out to do things outside of our comfort zone or require that we become a higher version of ourselves, we inevitably encounter resistance – an invisible force that tries to keep us small and stuck and prevents us from progressing toward our goals.

It could be that:

  • You truly desire to be in a loving relationship, but you’re the only person in your entire group of friends who’s single (or keeps dating people who end up cheating on you).
  • You’ve been working (relentlessly) on building your own business and trying to make a living from your passion but aren’t making real progress – every year, you find yourself at the same place you were the year before.
  • You want to lose 20 pounds before summer so that your favorite outfit fits you but find yourself eating a big bowl of ice cream late at night… again.

Well, that, my friend, is because of limiting beliefs, fears, and other unconscious patterns in your mind.

“Anything you are struggling to try to accomplish – whether it’s health or love or relationships or whatever it is – it represents a simple fact: your subconscious programming doesn’t support that conclusion.” –Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief

To achieve any significant and lasting improvement in ourselves and our lives, we must change the programming first. We must build a new identity.

As Ed Mylett says:

“Your internal identity shapes your external circumstances. It’s your internal thermostat that determines your life’s direction. If your internal thermostat is set at 80 degrees, it doesn’t matter if you ever get in great shape because your internal thermostat will make your default fitness state at 80 degrees. You may have a period of results, but you will revert to your default internal temperature.”

We can’t outgrow or out-perform our sense of identity.

Now, I’m guessing you are probably wondering how you can raise the temperature of your internal thermostat (aka your sense of identity)?

Well, that’s precisely what this article is about: five steps to change your identity and upgrade your life.

I’ve recently applied this process to my health and fitness. You can use it to upgrade any area of your life, though: your finances, career, relationships, and even spiritual life.

Let’s begin!

Change your self-image

Step 1: Define the Target

The first step to reshaping our identity is to have a clear idea of what we want. We need a target to move toward.

You can begin by writing down a description of what you aspire to achieve and the person you want to become. I find it more effective to focus on one area of life at a time (ex: work, relationships, or health and fitness). When we try to change too many things at once, our energy and attention are diffused, and we generally progress slower.

I recommend beginning with the area you believe will have the most significant impact on the overall quality of your life. Think of the one aspect of your identity that, if you improved, would have a positive ripple effect on all the other areas of your life.

Next, write down a description of your new identity in this area of your life. Write it in the present tense, as if you were describing your current reality. Also, describe how you feel in your new identity.

For example, right now, my main focus is on health and wellness. I wrote, “I am disciplined. I wake up naturally at sunrise, without an alarm clock, feeling rested and energized. I meditate for an hour every morning and then go for a short walk to the park. I am very active, practicing yoga several times per week and running four miles every other day.”

Once you have written your description, try reading it at least once a day, out loud if you can.

This exercise was mentioned in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. It only takes a few minutes to do and can help you to reprogram your subconscious.

Change your self-image

Step 2: Make It More Powerful

Here’s a trick to make the previous step even more powerful: record yourself reading your description of your new identity out loud using the recorder on your phone. Listen to the recording often, daily if you can.

The best times to listen to it are first thing in the morning, just after waking up, and before falling asleep at night. At these times, our brains produce alpha waves making it easier to implant ideas into the subconscious. Another good time to listen to your recording (for the same reason) is just after a meditation session.

If you want to edit your recording and perhaps add music, you can easily do so using free audio editing software like Audacity or Garage Band for Mac.

Again, it’ll only take you a few minutes, and you’ll have your own personalized tool to reprogram your subconscious mind.


Step 3: Fake It in Private Until You Make It

Perhaps the most effective way to change your self-identity is by visualizing yourself as the person you want to be and living the kind of life you want to live.

This is because the subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between something real and something you vividly imagine.

By imagining that you have attained your goal or become the person you want to be, you’ll trick your mind into believing that you have already achieved your goal and become the person you want to be.

I call this “faking it in private before going public.”

Here’s what you can do:  when you record yourself reading the description of your new identity (previous step), leave 30 seconds or more of silence in between each important statement. This way, you’ll have some time to imagine and visualize the scene while listening to your recording.

For example, “I wake up naturally at sunrise. (Silence) I meditate for an hour. (Silence) …”

If you had to pick only one strategy to reshape your identity, I would recommend visualization. For the visualization process to be truly effective, you need to feel as if you already are the person you want to become.

“Feeling as if” is more important than seeing clear images in your mind. That’s why I encouraged you to include how you feel in your description of your new identity.

“To impress the subconscious with the desirable state, you must assume the feeling that would be yours had you already realized your wish. (…) Prayer is the art of assuming the feeling of being and having that which you want.” -Neville Goddard, in Feeling is the Secret.


Step 4: Prove It to Yourself

The next step is more concrete. It’s to stop acting like your old self and, instead, act in alignment with your new identity.

For example, I want to become fully vegan. Therefore, I must stop buying dairy products (I have a hard time letting go of cheese) and buy vegan options instead.

I won’t lie; changing our behavior, especially our habits, can be difficult.

But if you did the previous steps – writing a description of your new identity, listening to your voice reading it, and visualizing it – it’ll be much easier. You’ll have removed much of the inner resistance that could otherwise sabotage your progress.

At this point, the degree of difficulty depends on your level of awareness and self-discipline.

You must have enough self-awareness to catch yourself when you’re about to say or do something that is not aligned with your new identity and correct the course of your behavior.

For example, if you want to stop biting your nails, you’ll have to catch and stop yourself before you’ve gone through all ten fingers. And, when you do catch yourself, you must have enough willpower to choose another behavior instead, like chewing a piece of gum or taking three deep breaths.

That’s how you stop reinforcing and eventually break free from old patterns that don’t serve you, and you can begin to embody your new identity.

Something that helps me is to continually ask myself, “What would my ideal self do?” or “What would the healthy and fit me do?” I use the answer to guide my decisions and actions. For example, when I go grocery shopping and walk in the cookies and dessert aisle, I ask myself, “Would the healthy me buy that kind of sugary snack?” Of course not. So I don’t buy cookies.

Some people do better with accountability. If it’s the case for you, don’t hesitate to seek an accountability partner or hire a coach.

change your life

Step 5: Use the Power of Social Influence

One of the best strategies to change our lifestyles is to redesign our environment to support our goals. One of the most critical aspects of environmental design for behavioral change is who we surround ourselves with.

We, humans, are social animals.

We tend to naturally adopt the behaviors of our tribe because of an innate desire to fit in. The behaviors, mindset, and beliefs of the people around you influence and reinforce your own.

So, surrounding yourself with people who already are and do what you aspire to become and achieve is one of the most powerful strategies to upgrade your identity. The closer you are to those people, the greater the influence.

The next step is to use the power of social influence to your advantage. Seek opportunities to meet people whose influence will help you move toward your goal.

For example, to become fully vegan, I would benefit from joining a vegan meetup group or volunteer at Vegan Fest and make new friends who live a plant-based lifestyle.

“The easiest way to raise your internal thermostat is by associating with people who have a higher temperature. Have you ever found yourself acting a new way because you were associating with new people? The people around you affect your internal thermostat, so if you want to increase your temperature in a particular area, associate with people who have a higher thermostat in that area.” –Ed Mylett

Change your self-image

Trust Me, It works! If You Do It…

For a long time, I procrastinated on the exercises mentioned in this article, thinking I had better things to do than writing my goals and vision and visualizing them. When I studied hypnosis and NLP, I came to understand the significance of mental programming. It became evident to me that, to improve my life, I first needed to transform my limiting beliefs into more empowering ones.

The strategies I shared in this article have been invaluable to me. I hope you’ll give them a try.

If you want to learn a scientific visualization method, you can join my science-based visualization course here. It includes a series of short videos explaining the neuroscience of visualization and how to visualize effectively. You also get five guided visualization audios for different goals.

Have a beautiful week! 



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Learn the easiest and most popular meditation technique in just 10 minutes! Some even call it “effortless meditation.” 

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