Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. – James Clear
You asked me if there is a way to make the process of “resisting” easier; if it’s possible to make a difficult journey easier. The answer is yes. And what makes me extremely excited about presenting the science to you – is that according to me, this is already something that you understand, and perhaps even do.
Normally when we want to make a change in life, we assign ourselves a goal: stay smoke free for 6 months, or sober for 6 months, etc. Some goals are longer: give up smoking, avoid becoming an alcoholic, etc.
Regardless of the time, goals are about the results you want to achieve. What we forget to pay attention to when setting a goal is the process that leads to those results. Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment; what we really need to change are the beliefs and processes that cause those results.*
Outcomes are about what you get. Process are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe. – James Clear
To create lasting change we need to focus on identity based habits. This happens by focusing on who you want to become not what you want to achieve.
Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs. Our behavior is usually a reflection of our identity; and what we do is an indication of the type of person that we believe we are. It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.
Habits are how you embody your identity.
So the task of making a difficult journey easier, and making progress last is to first identify the what you believe about yourself. Your first task is to articulate who you believe you are.
These statements can take the form of “I am” – and the ones that I’ve heard you say are:
– I am awesome
– I am happy
– I am invested in self-love
– I am good at avoiding hate (lolzz)
And the ones that I’ve picked up are:
– I am healthy (because you make the effort to cook, go to the gym and stay active)
– I am creative
– I am spontaneous
– I am curious
Next, we articulate your goals, and every obstacle that arises, from the perspective of what identity they will help you live up to and fulfill.
E.G. You’re really tempted to smoke, perhaps a friend even offers you a cigarette – in the moment between awareness and action you have a chance to reframe your thoughts. By leaning into an identity trait – perhaps “I am happy” you can reframe your urge by thinking: I am a happy person, I do not need to smoke to be happy, I find happiness in ____, etc.
By reframing your habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks we engage in a fast way to reprogram the mind and make the habit seem more attractive.* The next time you’re tempted by something similar, you’ll have a new (positive) response that you can trigger. And this is exactly how we update and strengthen neural pathways for the new behavior.
Slowly and surely, in this regard you will successfully not only TipTop your way towards your goals, but also make the change permanent and ever lasting; for all your efforts will anchor into foundations of your identity that you are so very proud of.
Much of what I’m referring to in this post comes from two primary sources, James Clear’s book Atomic Habits and B.J. Fogg a behavioral scientist at Stanford who has developed the Tiny Habits Method.
*Quotes form the Book
If anything is still unclear, do ask – or better yet just give me a call and we can talk about it 🙂