Most of the times in our effort to improve ourselves, we arrive at a point that we’re struggling to maintain the new habits. Slowly we’ll eventually go back to square one. The cycle then repeats. We try. We fail. We try. We fail. The worst case is that it can make us feel like it’s one step forward and two step backwards. We’re not actually improving at all and we’re even getting worse.
Recently, I read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. He emphasizes on the fact that we should forget about the goals but focus on the system. He was pointing out that most of us who are trying to be good at something but are too focused on the end result and at the same time doesn’t have any solid plan on how to achieve it. By having no plans, it’s easy for us to abandon the goal since there’s no clear direction at all. But how do we create a system? One idea he shared was establishing our identity.
He shared a story about a guy who was trying to quit smoking and somebody was offering him a cigarette. There are two possible answers that could be given. First is that the person will refuse and say that he’s trying to quit which is fine. On the other hand, the second one will also refuse and say that he is not a smoker. If we dig deeper into the story, the first person still identifies himself as a smoker but the other one does not. With that said, the second one would most likely be the one that will be successful in quitting smoking. Being able to understand what our identity can and can’t do simply gives us the opportunity to dissect the system needed to be created.
Remember the acronym WWJD (What would Jesus do)? We’ll use the same thing but change some parts. It would be “What would a __________ do?” Let say we want to lose weight; we’ll ask ourselves “What would a healthy person do?” A healthy person goes to the gym 3–4 times a week, no junk foods for meals, and the sorts. With that, it also makes it easier for us to decide when we’re confronted with a road block. Knowing what our identity does makes us realize that some of our current actions don’t align with the identity that we are aiming to have. We can then adjust to what is actually needed.
We then have to define the parameters that would make all of this possible. This is to ensure that in the long run, by just following the system, it will become second nature to us.
How about you?
Do you already have the identity that you want to live by?