On Air with Ella episode 264 [original air date December 2018]
CREATING HABITS THAT STICK
What's easy to say and hard to do? HABIT CHANGE! This topic is so, so important for anyone who doesn't want to live life on "auto-pilot," and who wants to live a full life, a life of intention.
This episode is about the habit change formula that works for me, and how you can create habits that work for you, and break those that don’t - for good.
I’m leaning very heavily on work by James Clear. James wrote the now-famous book called Atomic Habits. It was ground-breaking in 2018, and it remains one of the most powerful tools in my toolkit today.
I want to break it down and talk to you about the WHY and HOW it works. Are you ready for real change? Then let’s go.
Every action you take (for better or worse) is a vote for the person you want to be.
We talk about habit change a lot on the show, and of course I have my own habits that I want to make or break, and here’s the problem statement I see almost every time:
We want the “big bang” of change - dramatic, lightning bolt, finite - and easier
We want to “find” permanent motivation
We expect progress to be linear, so we're easily thwarted from the path when it's disrupted
Why is habit change hard?
We do it the wrong way, and we try to change the wrong thing
We try to change the outcomes, the results. That's the wrong starting place.
Picture 3 concentric circles: You have identity in the center circle, then processes/systems/habits, then the result or outcomes in the outer circle
If you’re trying to quit smoking and you focus on the NOT smoking, then you are pursuing "outcome based habits."
It's the same with eating or exercise or spending less time scrolling social media. If you are focused on the thing, instead of on BEING the person who doesn’t do the thing, you will very often find yourself right back where you started when the motivation wears off.
Why is this?
Identity is essential.
It’s the secret we unlocked in EPISODE 139 with Jim Fortin. (That is a classic episode , and you MUST give it a listen if you haven’t!)
Here’s the summary:
Behavior that is incongruent with the Self will not last
Every action you take is a vote for the kind of person you want to become
So, the “formula” is: decide the person you want to be, then prove it to yourself through small wins
Identity emerges out of habits, so repetition is essential!
OK, so easy, right? All we have to do is change our identity. GREAT! SO EASY.
Maybe not, but truly, there is a way - and that way is not nearly as difficult nor complicated as we might think. As it turns out, your identity is created by what you repeatedly do.
Think about it.
Are you a morning person? Why? How do you know? Because every day you get up early, you springy thing!
Are you a runner? How do you know?...
Are you a heavy drinker? How do you know?...
You get it. The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with it. Every action you take (for better or worse) is a vote for the person you want to be.
It’s evidence of who you are.
THE SECRET FORMULA
So, the formula is this: pick the area of growth - your relationship, your physical wellness, your spiritual practice, your money, your job, you productivity, anything. In that space, decide the person you want to be. Then prove it to yourself with very small wins every single day. That’s the secret. We're diving deep into the HOW of this in this episode, so pull up a chair, and dive in.
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