A couple of weeks ago I highlighted a concept from James Clear about setting identity-based habits versus outcome-based habits. James’s book, Atomic Habits, provides excellent background and framework about how to establish habits that work for you.
One of the most compelling concepts he shares in the book is the idea that each habit you have – good or bad – is like casting a vote for your identity. If you’re someone who exercises regularly and eats well, you’re casting a vote as a person who is health conscious and takes care of themselves. If you’re someone who spends everyday reading a book for 15 minutes, you’re casting a vote as a person who is interested in learning.
I’ve always felt that my journey for self awareness & self acceptance (which I’m still working on) has always involved two sides: the aspirational and the skeptical. The aspirational would be the one that encourages me to try new things and be a better version of myself; whereas the skeptical would be the voice at the back of my mind that says “let’s see how long this is going to last” with a bit of a smirk. Becoming a different version of ourselves – an ideal version – means we need to be constantly casting the votes for the identity that we want to become. With enough votes, we can slowly start to make the skeptical side of us to actually believe we can do it and that we are who we want to be.
If we want to be braver, calmer, kinder, healthier, etc. etc. we need to consistently be casting votes through our actions – whether they’re habits or decisions we make – to prove to our our skeptical (i.e. subsconscious mind) that we are who we’re saying we are.