This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Every week readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.
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This week's newsletter is based on James Clear's concept of identity-based habits.
Everyone has habits, and whether we perform them on purpose or not, they are a good predictor of what our life will look like in 10 to 20 years.
It's because over time our habits compound to change the trajectory of our lives.
An airplane taking off is a good example. In the short term, a few degrees to the left or right doesn't make much of a difference on where it goes. But in the long run, it causes the plane to end up far away from its destination.
Similarly, in the short term, habits don't make much of an impact. But in the long run, they're life-changing.
Because of the results that habits can produce, it becomes important to know how to build ones that last.
Building habits that last is difficult because we look at it the wrong way. We pursue outcome-based habits. It's when you try to make changes by focusing on the results you want. Like saying you want to lose 20 pounds or be able to bench press 200 pounds.
The recipe for success is building identity-based habits. It's when you focus on becoming a type of person. So if you're trying to achieve a goal, you ask yourself, "who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?"
This works because our behaviours are simply reflections of our identities. Whether it's conscious or subconscious, what we do is based on who we believe we are.
Building that identity is a two-step process:
Right now who you are is well established with your habits. However, every small win is like a vote for the new identity you've chosen. Over time you accumulate a lot of small wins and hold plenty of evidence that you are this identity.
Want to write a book?
Identity: Prolific Writer
Small wins: Gradually increase how much you write every day, publish content weekly or monthly, and read consistently
Want to lose 20 pounds?
Identity: Someone who is fit
Small wins: Gradually eat more healthy meals every day, gradually get more active every day, and don't miss workouts
Want to learn how to speak German?
Identity: Someone who is multi-lingual
Small wins: Study consistently, watch foreign films or use foreign subtitles, and read German writing
When you want to achieve a goal or build new habits, start by focusing on who you want to become, not what you want to achieve.
It's easy to burn out chasing a goal. It's frictionless to reap the benefits of who you are.
Whatever your identity is right now, it is only that because you have proof of it. - James Clear
James Clear elaborates by saying, "Just because you drew one picture doesn't make you an artist. But as you draw every day, the evidence accumulates and your identity begins to change."
This concept goes negatively and positively. If you constantly procrastinate your tasks and have to finish them in a rush, then you can't identify yourself as an organized and productive person.
Your identity is whatever you have the evidence of being.
What type of person (identity) would be able to accomplish your goals?