Bad Habits, Detrimental Problems
Do you know that the results in your life are a measure of your habits?
What is it that you do every single day to be successful?
What are you doing every day for your health, your lifestyle, your diet, your career? The small things we do in our life add up to much bigger, long term results.
This is what my recent guest James Clear, writer, entrepreneur, speaker and New York Times best-selling author, has focused his entire career on.
He has spent years educating millions of readers on the importance of habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement. He is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies, and his work is used in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
His new book, Atomic Habits, details his system of building good habits and breaking bad ones, showing how small changes can have a transformative effect in every aspect of your life.
James states, “we don’t rise to our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” What systems do we have in place to take our lives to the next level?
You Control Your Habits
I began my conversation with James by sharing with him an observation I have made based on the many interviews I have conducted over the years. I have met so many incredible people and I realized that there are no high performance people, just high performance habits.
When I share this observation with my students, I think it goes over their heads a lot of the time. Most people want to attribute success to talent, as if someone was always going to be a famous singer just because they had a good voice. But it takes a lot more than just talent to find success; it takes great habits.
Habits are the portion of your life that you can influence. Of course, there are many other factors to success, such as luck, but no one can control that. The only reasonable life strategy is to focus on what you can control. If you spend all your time focusing on things you can’t control then you will just end up frustrated.
Talent and genes play a role in success, but nearly always what you find is when someone is a great performer, they are both naturally talented and well trained. In order to fully execute and realize the talents that you have, you must be able to cultivate good habits.
Once you get to the top of the field you are pursuing you will realize that everyone around you has talent. What begins to separate the purely talented people from the successful people are your habits. When you spend your life figuring out your habits, routines, and rituals you will be able to get out of your own way and let yourself reach true success.
Ultimately, Your outcomes in life are a result of your lagging habits. Often times, people fixate on a certain goal without thinking about how to achieve that goal. Someone may want to make more money or lose weight, yet they forget that the number in their bank account is a lagging result of their work habits and the number on the scale is a lagging result of their eating habits.
How Habits Affect Personality
A lot of the time, your identity and sense of self is rolled into your habits. It’s the little things you do that have the power to change who you are.
One of the questions James began to tackle in writing his book was, “how do we come to believe things about ourselves?”
When you come into the work you don’t have any preset beliefs, so how does our internal story become shaped?
James realized that this happens mostly through the repetition of that story; your habits reinforce a particular identity.
The takeaway from this is that every action you take, is a vote for the type of person you want to become. If you can master the right habits then you can start to cast votes for the desired person you want to be.
This is why small habits matter so much. Remember, the real goal is not to run a marathon, it’s to become a runner. Once you’ve adopted an identity, you’re not pursuing behavior change, you’re simply acting in alignment with the type of person you already see yourself to be!
True behavior change is identity change.
What is a Habit?
The technical definition of a habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to be more or less automatic.
Why does the brain build them? As you go through life you need energy to survive. Getting energy is costly and requires even more energy, so your brain is always looking to conserve as much energy as possible. Habits are a great method for doing that.
Habits are an algorithm your brain builds so you can survive. For example, when you are young you learn to tie your shoes. At first it requires a lot of effort and energy, but quickly, your brain learns the context for tying your shoes and then it becomes second nature. This way you are able to free up the attention you used initially when you were learning the habit of tying your shoes. Then you can use that energy in other aspects of your life and ultimately have much less wasted energy.
I can’t wait to share even more of my conversation with James. Stay tuned as we delve further into why James became so interested in habits, the stages of cultivating habits, and the science behind them!
In the meantime, start thinking about what habits you need to work on to achieve what you want in life.
Remember, the goal is not to write a book, it’s to become a writer.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored