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It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses, and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.
Similarly, habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance.
Forget about goals, focus on systems instead.
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.
Outcomes are about what you get.
Processes are about what you do.
Identity is what you believe.
With outcome-based habits, the focus is on that you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.
Most people don’t even consider identity change when they set out to improve.
They never shift the way they look at themselves, and they don’t realize that their old identity can sabotage their new plans for change.
There are a set of beliefs and assumptions that shape the system, an identity behind the habits.
Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.
It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.
You have a new goal and new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity.
It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.
The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.
True behavior change is identity change.
Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.
Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity.
What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe that you are – either consciously or nonconsciously.
When you have repeated a story to yourself for years, it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact.
Progress requires unlearning.
Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
Your identity emerges out of your habits.
More precisely, your habits are how you embody your identity.
When you make your bed each day, you embody the identity of an organized person.
The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior.
Whatever your identity is right now, your only believe it because you have proof of it.
The more evidence you have for a belief, the more strongly you will believe it.
Of course, your habits are not the only actions that influence your identity, but by virtue of their frequency they are usually the most important ones.
As you repeat actions, however, the evidence accumulates and your self-image begins to change.
In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.
We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit.
We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.
Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity.
And if a change is meaningful, it actually is big.
That’s the paradox of making small improvements.
The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
Each habit not only gets results but also teaches you something far more important: trust yourself.
You start to believe you can actually accomplish these things.
When the votes mount up and the evidence begins to change, the story you tell yourself begins to change as well.
New identities require new evidence.
If you keep casting the same votes you’ve always cast, you’re going to get the same results you’ve always had.
It is a simple two-step process:
- Decide the type of person you want to be.
- Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Ask yourself, “Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?”
Once you have a handle on the type of person you want to be, you can begin taking small steps to reinforce your desired identity.
Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits.
The formation of all habits is a feedback loop, but it’s important to let your values, principles and identity drive the loop rather than your results.
Identity change is the North Star of habit change.
You have the power to change your beliefs about yourself.
Your identity is not set in stone.
You have choice in every moment.
You can choose the identity you want to reinforce today with the the habits you choose today.
Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be.