Identity: It Doesn’t Come From the Tasks You Do


Note: This is a post from Courtney Baker, chief seller and long-time running wo-man of MvD.

I love challenges, thinking strategically, and making game plans. I love transformation stories. So I relish in the setting-resolutions frenzy. I set a goal every year; some I accomplish and some I don’t. But each time, I have a plan. All you need is a plan, right?


Last year, I wrote this goal on a card plus a three-step plan to help me accomplish it.

Goal: Become a Photographer

  • Study a new photography blog each month, read archives.
  • Do 20 complimentary practice photo shoots.
  • Blog about the information I’m learning.

I packed the card away with our Christmas ornaments, excited about kicking butt in 2012. I had one goal- and I already outlined the steps to accomplish it.

When I discovered the card this year, I quickly and shamefully tucked it away, knowing that I hadn’t accomplished my goal. But I had a plan – what happened? I rattled off a list of a million excuses – a new baby, producing a movie, and moving to Portland among the top.

But I didn’t address the real issue. Identity.

James Clear deconstructed the layers of behavioral change, saying that we focus too much on our performance and our appearance instead of changing our core, our identity.

I can escape a to-do list. I can’t escape my identity.

I was focusing on specific tasks I should do to “become a photographer” instead of doing specific tasks because “I AM a photographer.”

You are no longer checking off a list to earn the status. Instead, you are that person at work. You don’t have to track your spending and pay off a loan first to become a person in control. You already are a person in control who’s doing what people in control do.

This is the year that you are going to shift from saying “I tracked my spending this month” or “I paid down $3,000 on my loan” to “I’m the type of person who is in control of my finances.”

James Clear says, “Change is hard. You’ve probably noticed that.” Oh, we’ve noticed! But changing your identity makes everything more immediate. It’s now!

Don’t waste another week, another day, or another hour. Pick your new identity right this second. Right now.

You ARE an attentive parent.

You ARE a generous person.

You ARE a get-up-and-work-out-in-the-morning kind of guy.

You ARE a person in control of your finances.

We ARE a community of people that are in control of our finances, and we’re going to rock 2013!


Who are YOU going to be in 2013? Declare it in the comments below!

27 thoughts on “Identity: It Doesn’t Come From the Tasks You Do”

  1. In 2013 I am a healthy person, a writer and a language student. I do no put off what I want to do, and I do not divert my attention with trivial nonsense which avoids my personal goals.

    I am going to continue reading Man-Vs-Debt with avid interest and live my live debt free.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration.

    1. Jonathan Welford (noun): a healthy person, a writer, and a language student. Oh, and an avid MvD reader! Sounds great!

  2. What a great post. I got goose bumps reading your statement “I’m the kind of person who is in control of my finances.” That sounds so powerful.

    My statement is: I own a successful marketing company that helps companies connect with their clients in an engaging and meaningful way.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. It does feel so powerful when you claim the new identity. So here goes,

      Susan (noun): owner of a successful marketing company that helps companies connect with their clients in an engaging and meaningful way.

    1. Lisa (noun): a person in control of her finances who weighs less than last year.

      Not sure if you mean literal or figurative weight, but it’s powerful either way!

  3. In 2013 I am a confident creative person who can choose a career path and follow it. I know I will be a professional working adult and a loving, available parent and wife. I will continue to use wealth of life experiences to solve the road bumps in my life.

    Thanks to you, courtney, for the wonderful post today – this was something I needed to hear and a new perspective I had not ever considered.

    1. Erika O (noun): a confident, creative person who is a professional at work and a loving present person at home. She’s rich in life experiences.

      That gives me goosebumps!

  4. I’ve had the same thoughts as I’ve been working part of last year and now this year to build up my illustration “career”. I’m doing well in my career consulting company, and while that’s good, it’s also set the bar very high for me in terms of what I expect from myself in order to be able to say that I do something “professionally” or “as a career” or “as an artist”. But your points are great – in this case, it’s not about revenues, or billed client hours, or incoming projects, so much as it is about my existing identity as an artist, and just allowing myself time, space, energy and resources to work on creative projects. Of whatever sort. Cheers!

  5. I live simply. I live boldly. I take risks. I please God. I love my family. I leave a legacy. I am significant.

  6. Courtney — thanks so much for mentioning my article. I’m glad you found it useful and I hope the MvD community gets something out of it as well.

    Here’s to a great 2013 for you, Baker, and the whole gang!

  7. I am a jazz pianist. I am optimistic. I am in control of my choices. I can follow through a plan. I am a confident friendly person.

    Thank you for you’re site and videos. Thanks to you I now have a goal and a plan I am going to follow through hopefully by the end of the year. I’m 22, plan on saving up and quitting my job in December and going travelling to experience what the world is.

  8. In 2013, I am a do-er and spend my time (including thinking time) on what’s important. I am also a person who is in control of her finances– this I pasted at the top of my excel finance sheet! Thanks Courtney for the inspiration!

  9. I am Jeanine, a fixed of human problems whether they be physical. Or emotional. I make a difference in people’s lives for the better. I am good at what I do and will strive to help many others be happy with themselves. I am a faithful wife, I love my children and my family.

  10. I am catalyst for change. I am a good wife and mother. I am a powerhouse of life and vitality. I am a Christ follower and kingdom builder. I am financially responsible.

  11. Here’s to a fantastic 2013!

    I am a consistent blogger, a successful real estate professional , an attentive and hot mama ( be gone all that pregnancy weight!), and living life to the fullest!

  12. Pingback: You Are Not Alone: Why the Right Community Makes Every Goal More Achievable, How the People Around You Lengthen Your Life, and Where to Find Your Community | The Art of Becoming Better

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