Identity Pacts: Make a Commitment to Yourself

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Indistractable" by Nir Eyal. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are identity pacts from Indistractable? Why is it important to make and keep commitments to yourself?

In his book Indistractable, Nir Eyal says that it’s important to make commitments to yourself that will help you stay focused on your goals. Eyal calls these pre-commitments “identity pacts” because they should align with who your want to be and what you want to do.

Continye below to learn how to make an identity pact and change your self-image.

Create Precommitments 

The last part of the Indistractable model focuses on locking yourself into traction, rather than keeping distractions out. You accomplish this by using precommitments— a commitment to yourself that you make while in an undistracted state that will help guide your behaviors when you’re tempted by distraction in the future. 

  • For example, you might precommit to saving money by setting up a portion of your paycheck to automatically deposit in your savings account, instead of believing you’ll make the right choice on payday.

Precommitments are the last piece of the indistractable model because their success depends on the first three elements:

  • You must understand and manage your internal triggers. Otherwise, your internal discomfort will be strong enough to drive you away from your precommitments. 
  • You can’t fulfill a precommitment unless you set aside time in your schedule to do so. 
  • External triggers can easily pull you off task. 

There are three types of precommitments that can minimize the power of distraction: effort pacts, price pacts, and identity pacts.  This article will focus on identity pacts.

Precommitment Type 3: Identity Pacts

Changing the way you see yourself can help you change your behaviors because you’ll naturally act like the person you believe yourself to be. Identity pacts are a precommitment to the identity that aligns with who you want to be and what you want to do. These pacts help you think about your self-image and your behaviors and align them in two ways. 

1. Changing Your Self-Image Changes Your Behaviors 

You can make it more likely you’ll perform certain behaviors by changing the way you talk about—and see—yourself. 

  • For example, if you’re trying to start running every day, don’t think of yourself as someone who’s trying to run more or has to run every day. You’re more likely to stick to your exercise plan if you call yourself a runner or someone who runs.

This applies to cultivating indistractable habits and making them an integral part of your identity—think of yourself and talk about yourself as someone who is indistractable when describing your behaviors:

  • You’re not someone who can’t take quick breaks to check Instagram. You’re indistractable—you don’t take quick breaks, but you do schedule social media time. 
  • It’s not that you can’t deal with distractions from your coworkers. You simply don’t deal with them. 

2. Changing Your Behaviors Changes Your Self-Image

Cultivating identity also works in the opposite direction—you can change your self-image by changing your behaviors. When you act in a way that’s aligned with the identity you want to have, you naturally see more of that identity in yourself. 

Rituals are a great way to foster indistractable behaviors—by continually sticking to planned activity and exhibiting self-control, you reinforce the idea that you’re an indistractable person. 

  • These rituals can be small, easily achievable parts of your day such as your bedtime skincare routine or washing your dishes before you start your work in the morning. 

(Shortform note: Read our summary of Switch to learn how small behavioral shifts can translate into powerful, change-driving identity transformations.) 

Identity Pacts: Make a Commitment to Yourself

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Nir Eyal's "Indistractable" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Indistractable summary:

  • How to become indistractable in a world full of distractions
  • Why your schedule should be based on your values instead of tasks
  • How to start driving your life instead of letting its distractions drive you

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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