James Clear is the bestselling author of Atomic Habits — a book on building habits, making better decisions, and continuous self-improvement.
I don’t typically enjoy reading books on building habits or enforcing discipline since, frankly, it seems quite straight forward. But, James has put together an incredibly clever system that strongly resonates with me.
In Atomic Habits, he coins the idea of ‘identity-based habits’:
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).
To create long-lasting behavior change, we need to build identity based habits to start believing new things about ourself.
Here’s the model:
The outer, most superficial layer is based on outcomes. These are the goals you want to hit.
Lifting heavier weights
Improving your mile time
Publishing a book
Going one level deeper is about your process. These are the systems that make your outcomes possible.
Incorporating a 4-day split weightlifting routine
Waking up early to run a mile every day
Writing 200 words a day toward your book
The last, and deepest layer is about your identity. This is about changing your worldview, self-image, and beliefs about yourself as a person, to enforce your systems.
Become the type of person who never misses a workout
Become a ‘runner’ — the type of person who wakes up early to run
Become the type of person who writes everyday
Build lasting habits
So, how can you put this into practice?
Identify the outcomes and goals you wish to achieve
Choose the habits and skills you’ll need to enforce in order to achieve your goals
Recognize the type of person that can enforce those habits — and be that person
Bonus: tell a close friend about the type of person you’re aspiring to be. Accountability goes a long way.
Give it a whirl, and let me know what you think. What are some goals you want to accomplish this year?
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