Forget Motivation — If You Want to Build Habits That Stick, Begin by First Changing Your Identity

Transformation begins with who you want to become.

Omar Itani
The Startup
Published in
7 min readDec 3, 2019


Everyone wants to become better at something.

Today, you build a list of things you will do tomorrow: I will get in shape. I will stop eating processed sugar. I will start writing every day. I will read more. I will start my side hustle project. I will wake up an hour earlier every day.

And then you start working out. You start eating clean. You start writing. You increase the time dedicated to reading. You get started on that side project. You set your alarm an hour earlier.

But the habit doesn’t last very long. Motivation fades away, and so does your willpower to build this habit you truly long to create. So you stop.

A few weeks or months pass by, you feel guilty for giving up, so you try again, and the cycle continues — you try to make a habit stick, you lose motivation, you stop.

No matter how badly you want the change, the habits simply don’t seem to stick. How many times have you fallen victim to this process?

The reason is simple: you’re under the illusion that habits stick by the mere existence of motivation, but in truth, they only stick when you bridge them into your identity and see their practice as an affirmation of who you are.

“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be, from this moment on.” — Hal Elrod

These habits need to matter, and they can only matter when you summon them to transform into a fabric of your identity.

So, here’s the first key to making habits stick: stop focusing on building outcome-based habits, and instead focus on building identity-based habits.

The Traditional Way: Focus on The Outcome

We usually begin the process of building a new habit by first focusing on what we want to achieve (the outcome) and then figuring out how (the process).

  • I want to lose 100 pounds…



Omar Itani
The Startup

Exploring the art of slow, simple, and intentional living. I post here every day: More at: