Who are you voting to power?
If you want to build a lasting habit, ask yourself: ‘𝐖𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐦 𝐈 𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫?’
I had good grades through school. They started falling in freshman year. ‘I’m smart,’ I reassured myself. I waited for things to change.
Nothing did. My friends were the brightest young minds in the country. I was no longer smarter. But because I identified as smart, I did what I had always done: I worked only when I had to. For short bursts, I pushed myself but in the face of sketchy results, I lost motivation.
𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐬 (𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲) 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐲 (𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝-𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠).
Our identities are powerful forces. At the very basic, they are labels. At their core, they carry a force that can hold us back or propel us forward.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, suggests approaching habit change by building your desired identity first. See yourself as an athlete and you’ll run, good day or bad.
He compares building a habit to voting to power the person you want to become. The present you is in power today but the new you can win by collecting more votes. Votes are actions. Persist with good actions and the votes for the new you stack up. You’re on track to topple the incumbent!
Now imagine the campaign without your future self. There’s only one candidate–the current you. You don’t like her but in the absence of an alternative, the status quo prevails. That is what had happened to the freshman me.
𝐓𝐢𝐩 1: 𝐈𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧-𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐫, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞. 𝐍𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐧𝐨𝐨𝐳𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤.
𝐓𝐢𝐩 2: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭. 𝐈𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐬, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐒𝐨 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐧𝐨𝐨𝐳𝐞, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐠𝐧 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐤.
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