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Build Better Habits

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How to Choose a Habit that Sticks


The most important decision you will make is what habit to build. Pick the right habit and progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle. It is much more important to work on the right habit than it is to work hard. In this lesson, we will discuss choosing the right habit for you. When most people think about the habits they want to build, they start by considering the outcomes they want to achieve. "I want to lose weight." Or, "I want to stop snacking between meals." The alternative is to build an “identity-based habit” and start by focusing on who we wish to become, not what we want to achieve. Anyone can convince themselves to work out more and eat better but if you don’t shift the belief behind the behavior, it becomes hard to stick with long-term changes. Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are. · The goal is not to eat perfectly all the time. the goal is to be a person that starts every day with a healthy breakfast. · The goal is not to start working out every single day. the goal is to be a person that works out a one more time each week that you did previously. · The goal is not to win the game or competition, the goal is to become a person who practices every day. The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say “I’m the type of person who wants this.” It’s very different to say “I’m the type of person who is this.” To a large degree, your identity emerges out of your habits. It’s like a self-improvement feedback loop. The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior. And the more you reinforce the identity, the more natural it will feel to repeat the behavior. If you volunteer at your local homeless shelter, you start to believe you are the type of person who cares about your community. The more weekends you show up at the shelter, the more you reinforce that identity, and the easier it becomes to see community service as part of who you are. As James Clear says in Atomic Habits: Every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become. Each habit is like a suggestion: “Hey, maybe this is who I am.” No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. And when your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be. Benjamin Franklin said, “The things you do often create the things you believe.” Consider your desired identity and ask, “Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?” What would a healthy person do? What would a productive person do? What would X do? These questions help reveal the desired identity you should work toward and the habits that support that identity. This is the way to determine which habit you should focus on. Once you have a handle on the type of person you want to be, you can begin taking small steps to reinforce your desired identity. Here are some more examples of linking your habits to your desired identity: · If you want to write a book, you should focus on becoming the type of person who writes every day. · If you want to learn a new language, you should focus on becoming the type of person who studies every day. · If you want to retire early, you should focus on becoming the type of person who saves money every month. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome. Initially, casting small votes for your desired identity is far more important than worrying about a particular result. Your habits gradually reshape your identity. It's slow and nearly impossible to see. You can rarely tell the difference between who you were yesterday and who you are today. But with each rep, with each vote cast, your internal story begins to shift. Start by focusing on who you want to become, not what you want to achieve. ​That's all for Lesson 1. See you in the next lesson, Julie HOMEWORK Choose a habit to work on this month. It can be something you want to start doing or something you want to stop doing. Choose something meaningful that reinforces your desired identity but don't choose something super challenging. You can apply the principles we work on this month to other more challenging habits. But use the process this time on something you feel confident you can achieve. Please share the habit you will be working on in the comments within the group.

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