The power of “I am.”
A few days ago I sent an email to about 10,500 people.
I asked the following 6 questions:
– Do you have a specific writing goal right now? What is it?
– Do you have a specific fitness goal right now? What is it?
– What stops you from writing (or writing as much as you’d like)?
– What stops you from moving your body / exercising (or exercising as much as you’d like)?
– Do you trust yourself? Meaning: when you make a commitment, and devote yourself to it, do you trust that you will actually do it?
– What was the best part of your day?
So far, I’ve received about 300 responses.
Pretty much everyone wants to write more and exercise more.
A whole lot of things (time, energy, kids, partners, jobs, stress, boredom, needing to catch up on the TV show Nashville, which I fully understand) make both of those things pretty difficult for many people.
Very few people trust themselves to commit to a habit, goal, or vision and see it through. Particularly when it comes to exercising.
None of these facts are particularly surprising.
But one thing did surprise me.
There was a small number of people who told me that they love exercising, they always make time for it, nothing can stop them, and often, it’s the highlight of their day. These people, almost without exception, referred to their fitness regime with an “I am” statement:
“I am a runner.”
(Not, “I try to run three times a week.”)
“I am a cyclist.”
(Not, “I’d really like to bike to work more often.”)
“I am a yogi.”
(Not, “Yoga is something I really enjoy.”)
“I am a power-lifter.”
(Not, “My goal is to lift weights.”)
“I am a dancer.”
(“Not, “I take dance classes.”)
For these unstoppable exercisers, fitness is not something they force themselves to do or something they “try to do” when they “have time” or when the weather is nice or when it is “convenient.”
Fitness is integral to their identity.
It’s who they are.
This makes total sense when you back up and think about it.
After all, when something is really, deeply, unshakably important to you — when doing that thing is a non-negotiable part of your life — you tend to talk about it using “I am” terms.
“I am a mother.”
(Not, “I do mothering” or “My goal is to do mothering seven days a week.”)
Now, I am not a scientific researcher — and this email survey is not a formal study.
But already, I am wondering… What would happen to your brain, to your self-esteem, to your sense of identity, to your daily behavior, just by switching from “I try” to “I am”?
“I am a writer.” “I am a poet.” “I am an athlete.” “I am an entrepreneur.” “I am a patient person.” “I am an amazing lover.” “I am a person of great devotion.” “I am on track.”
Build your own “I am” phrase. Say the words to yourself. Even if it’s just for the rest of today. Even if the words feel silly and totally aspirational… for now.
Words are undeniably powerful. Words can break hearts and start wars. Words can start love affairs and heal ancient wounds. Words can bring a hush to a noisy room and inspire millions to march on the Capitol. Words change minds. Words change the world.
If words can do all of that…
Maybe, just maybe, the right words can also help you to head to the gym.
Repeat after me: