I’m in the middle of reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. The book is about how tiny changes can lead to remarkable results. The author outlines a solid and systemic approach in the book to help people break old habits and build new and good ones.
Changing a habit sounds easy, right? We’ve all been there, done that. I know I have, with many attempts and good intention, for example:
– Put down my phone and put on my lululemon pants to exercise;
– Push away my pen & journal, and pick up a pink guitar and later on a borrowed set of drum sticks;
– After a long and exhausting day at work, I reach to the fridge to get a bottle of cold water instead of that chilled bottle of Riesling;
– Instead of indulging myself with a big spoon of dark chocolate ice cream after dinner, I chose to have two slices of blood orange, if the taste is not all that good, at least the colour will do the trick.
I tried at least.
Despite of all my efforts, I failed, sometimes, tremendously.
WHY do I fail? I ask myself, but for the longest period of time I couldn’t find the answer. Is it because I’m lack of self-discipline? Is it because I am an addictive type of person? Or is it because I’m resisting to become a person that I don’t want to be.
In this book, Clear shares his perspectives on what habits are and how to change them:
- To change a habit is to change your identity and who you are.
- The goal of changing a habit is not to read a book; the goal is to become a reader. The goal is not to learn an instrument; the goal is to become a musician.
- With it becoming part of your identity, you will now be able to change.
- Your behaviours are usually the reflection of your identity.
- What you do is the type of person you believe you are, either consciously or unconsciously.
All this to say, who you are (identity) leads to what you do (habits).
So, next time, before you decide to break old habits and build new ones, ask yourself this million dollar question:
WHO AM I? or
WHAT IS MY IDENTITY?
In my case, for those who know me well, know that I’m neither an athlete nor a musician material. Any type of sports that could possibly hurt even my finger nails would intimidate me, because of my extremely low tolerance for pain. I’m also not good at learning instruments because of my inability to generate rhythms. So sad.
To be a musician, a singer, a dancer or a skier has never been my dream since day one, and will not be my dream for the rest of my life either.
But, who are you? You may ask.
- I’m a life-long learner. I love learning new knowledge and understanding new trends. If we are lucky and privileged enough to be born with a healthy brain, we have no choice but to utilize it and maximize the value of it by reading, learning, observing, memorizing, listening, speaking, and keeping the curiosity at the heart of everything we do. The world is enormously big. We have an obligation to learn, through all media and channels. Because of this identity, I have never given up on learning, reading, writing and studying, and from which I have gained huge amount of pleasure in life.
- I’m a perfectionist. I cannot tolerate mistakes, even if it’s minor. I will not let my PowerPoint be presented with heavy texts on it; I will not go out to conquer the world with a pair of dirty Converse; and I will not be all wishy-washy when it comes to the deliverables at work. Remember the biggest brand that we need to build in life is our own brand, personally and professionally. I want mine to be as good as it can be, and to get there I will learn, unlearn, fail, learn again until I get there.
- I’m an adventurer. My husband says it the best: you are such a restless soul. I know, I know. It’s me. I cannot stand routines. I disrupt, I move, I relocate, I experience, I’m falling in love with new places and new things all the time, but no, not new men. LoL.
- And I’m a size 0 gal, for real. I’m by no means bragging but just to state a fact. I have guilty pleasures such as wine, champagnes, French Fries, macaroons, and chocolate, but to keep the size 0 under my belt, I enjoy my pleasures only with modesty. A little bit of this and a little of that never kills anyone, right? And for that, my habit will never be to eat a big spoon of chocolate ice cream after dinner every day, hmmm…. maybe every two weeks at the most?
Now it’s your turn to answer this million dollar question before you determine to make any life-altering changes to your habits.
Who are you?