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Habits: They’re not what you do, they’re who you are

A buddy at work turned me on recently to a great book titled Atomic Habits, by James Clear.

The book’s subtitle is all the reason I — and you, by the way — will ever need to read it: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.

We’re all looking for a change, right? “If I could only start doing this, or stop doing that, my life would be great!” The problem is, none of us know how to start or stop those things. This book is supposed to help.

Does it work? The hell if I know. I’m only about halfway through it. I’ll keep you posted.

But one excerpt from an early chapter definitely hit home. In it, the author tried to draw a line between achieving a goal and transforming oneself. There’s a difference.

“True behavior change is identity change,” Clear writes. “You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity. Anyone can convince themselves to visit the gym or eat healthy once or twice, but if you don’t shift the belief behind the behavior, then it is hard to stick with long-term changes. Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.

  • “The goal is not to read a book. The goal is to become a reader.
  • “The goal is not to run a marathon. The goal is to become a runner.
  • “The goal is not to learn an instrument. The goal is to become a musician.”

It’s all about transformation. It’s not about tweaking things a little bit. It’s not about changing things slightly to accommodate our lifestyles.

It’s about transforming our mindsets. It’s about looking at everything differently. We’re not trying to change a small part of who we are. We’re trying to change who we are.

It’s not about what we want to do. It’s about who we want to become.

See the difference?

We’ll never get there until we do.

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