Aristotle knew a thing or two about the philosophy of “fake it ‘til you make it.” In his day, though, he didn’t call it that. Instead, he explained that we become virtuous by first putting virtues into action, we become disciplined by first exercising good self-control, and we become courageous by first performing acts of courage. In other words, change your behavior first, and then your sense of identity and your personal story will follow.

Also known as “acting as-if” and the “do good, be good approach,” this technique has lots of scientific support. Watch this clip put together by psychologist Richard Wiseman and his friends at Cognitive Media:

Consider what this means in the financial domain. If I have $100 deducted from my monthly paycheck and automatically deposited into my savings account, I watch the savings begin to grow. Then, I am able to cultivate a sense of myself as a “saver” or as a disciplined steward of my money. This leads me to make other decisions that are consistent with my new interpretation of myself.

What financial behavior do you need to change so that your sense of identity will align with your goals?