“The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it. If you’re proud of how your hair looks, you’ll develop all sorts of habits to care for and maintain it. If you’re proud of the size of your biceps, you’ll make sure you never skip an upper-body workout. If you’re proud of the scarves you knit, you’ll be more likely to spend hours knitting each week. Once your pride gets involved, you’ll fight tooth and nail to maintain your habits.” James Clear Atomic Habits: An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones
Wow-wee this book was a game changer for me. I thought about how hard it was for me to let go of the Party-Girl persona when I initially tried to give up the booze. I was wine. Regardless of the fact I was no longer working in bars or even really going out much and my hangovers were from hell, my inner Paris Hilton was stubbornly refusing to get off the dance floor. James Clear points out the difference in the mindset of two people who are offered a cigarette; one says “I can’t, I’m trying to quit” and the other says, “No thank you, I don’t smoke”. Even though the outcome is the same, neither take the cigarette, the person who identifies as a non-smoker has a stronger chance of not going back to being Smokey Smokerson as this is becoming part of their identity.
“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 something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
As I developed new habits to replace the booze; ginger beer in the fridge, the accountability and support of friends in-the-know, the stability of a fixed routine, the satisfaction of chalking up another day on the calendar without a drink, I gained a new self-image as a sober healthy self-helpY type. I became more Yoga-Girl than Party-Girl and now drinking would be out-of-character for me. Ayahuasca perhaps more on-brand.
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
The book explores how building new habits is all about systems rather than goals. Every athlete has the goal of winning the event but only the one who has put in consistent work and strived for continuous improvement will. I remember listening to an interview with Katrin Davidsdottir, an Icelandic Cross Fit Champion. She talked about how her friends would say, “can’t you just eat one cookie/ watch one more Netflix episode/ take Christmas Day off…” and she would reply, “No I can’t. Not if I want to be the best in the world”.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”.
Another helpful tip from the book was to ask yourself if your actions were supporting your desired identity. So before ordering lunch, for example, ask yourself ,“what would a healthy person chose?” and go for the salad rather than the cookie. To encompass my wishes to be healthier, braver, stronger and creativeR…I have been asking myself , “What would a leader do?” and then choosing actions that support that goal. A leader would…go to the gym, apply for that job, say yes/no, share with vulnerability, write daily etc. So far so good with this and you could always use the age-old WWJD (what would Jesus do?) or WWBD (what would Beyoncé do?)
I can highly recommend this book and will leave you with this nugget o’wisdom: “Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.”
Love and light and be a professional xxx Yvette
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