In his book Atomic Habits, clear begins by defining what a habit really is.
- An extremely small amount of a thing; the single irreducible unit of a larger system.
- The source of immense energy or power
A routine or practice performed regularly; an automatic response to a specific situation.
Too often we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. We put pressure on ourselves to make earth shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Over the past two years I have been working on habits…habits around TIME & MONEY….and habits around ENERGY & FOCUS….In fact…you’ll see how i used some of these concepts in building those habits…I needed to be someone that had time…that generated and gave money….that increased my energy….and maintained incredible focus…
Improving just 1% isn’t particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable – but it can be far more meaningful in the long run.
Clear states that If you can get 1% better each day for a year, you’ll end up thirty seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for a year, you’ll decline nearly down to a zero.
Habits are the compound interest of self improvement. The same way money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiple as you repeat them.
They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.
We dismiss or minimize small changes, as they don’t show up with a noticeable result in the moment. Even minor changes in our daily routines and habits will bring us to a starkly different outcome down the road. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory or path than your current results.
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
Our habits form our identity.
Why is it so easy to repeat bad habits and so hard to form good ones? Well first that involves change. And the difficulty behind change? Clear again states that “There are three levels at which change can occur.”
In his book, Atomic Habits, Clear takes us on a journey through the three levels of change:
Your outcomes: this level is concerned with changing your results- losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change.
Your Process: this level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level.
Your Identity: This level is concerned with changing your beliefs – your worldview, your self image, your judgements about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level.
Outcomes are what you get, process are about what you do, Identity is about what you believe.
We must start with our identity. Become the person who follows a certain process or does certain activities. Receive the results of a person that follows that process because its who you are. Identity – Process – Outcome.
My Director of Sales, John Powers, recently applied this in an outcome he was looking for. He decided he would go 60 days without drinking. Ok. Simple enough. Or is it? For those of you who know John, he is a highly social human being. He may go out to eat with friends in one month more than I do the entire year. And when you sit down to eat with friends, the first question asked by the wait staff is typically, “Can I bring you something to drink?”
As friends order their glass of wine, gin and tonic, or old fashioned, our first inclination is to stick to our desired outcome and give the proverbial line, “oh, I’m not drinking this month”…to which every friend that is ready to enjoy dinner and have some fun responds with, “oh, forget that. Start that tomorrow. Just have a beer.” The waiter gladly takes the order and moments later the beer is in front of you.
So John realized he had to focus on his identity…not the outcome. As friends began to order drinks at the restaurant, his language began to change to “I don’t drink.” May seem like just a game of words, but with just that slight change in an identity – from someone not drinking right now, to a person that does not drink – the whole process of the following conversation changed, and the desired outcome changed with it.