Here’s a useful insight from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits:
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1/june-4-2020
Writing every day reaffirms my “I’m a writer” identity.
Sitting on the couch every day reaffirms my “I’m a couch potato” identity.
As a consequence: when you change your actions and your identity starts shifting to align with those actions.
And that’s how we get out of a rut.
(The opposite isn’t always true: changing your thoughts without changing your actions will rarely shift your identity. I can think of being a writer as much as I want, if I never put any words on paper, I’m not a writer. That’s one of the principle of cognitive dissonance: Actions overrule Thoughts.)
Here’s how to change your actions and your identity:
- First, you decide who you want to be (and what your new identity looks like).
“I want to be a yogi: someone who regularly practices yoga and takes care of his mind and body.”
- Second you get clear on what that would look like in your daily life: which actions you’ll take that are different from the ones you’re taking right now.
“Instead of watching TV before, my “yogi identity” would do a daily yoga session.
- Third, you gain enough leverage over yourself to go against your current habits, and take those different action for a prolonged period of time.
This is where most resistance comes up, because my old “couch potato identity” is fighting my “yogi” identity — and through my past actions, the couch potato has received WAY more votes than the yogi.
So you need perseverance at this stage. Remember, every time you take those new actions, you’re voting for your new identity and new habits are taking roots.
- At some point, you reach a tipping point productivity experts call “habit escape velocity“: you now have so much momentum that you’re out of the sphere of influence of your old habits, and your new habits (and new identity) can take root.
Which begs the question…
Where are you saying you want to be a certain way, but you’re voting for something else through your daily actions?Lukas Van Vyve
Put your money (or your actions) where your mouth is.