Living a happy and healthy life is widely pursued. Many people set goals like losing weight, building muscles, getting better grades, spending more time with family, achieving career excellence and so much more. In order to reach these goals, the first step you need to do is to establish good habits.
So how can we successfully convert our goals into reality? How can we develop good habits that will lead us to achieve these goals?
In this article, we will look at the two key principles to developing good habits introduced by James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits”.
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Principle 1: Decide the type of person you want to be
As introduced in the Personal Growth Model, every change and personal development starts with a belief. Your mindset, identity and motivation determines how you plan, take action, and of course, your result.
The Personal Growth Model illustrates how your belief has a direct influence on your action, and in particular, your habits.
However, many people who wish to make changes in their lives tend to miss this step. Many choose to focus on the end result that they look for, and forget that it is important to first focus on your beliefs and identity.
Three layers of behavioural change
In his book, James Clear proposed the three layers of behavioural change. These three levels explain how changes can occur.
- Outcomes: the outcomes or result that you desire to achieve. Goals like losing weight, achieving better grades are examples of outcomes.
- Processes: processes include the habits you need to achieve the outcomes. For example, in order to lose weight, you will need to go to the gym.
- Identity: your identity is related to your beliefs, your world view, your self-perception, assumptions and values.
In order to make behavioural changes, instead of just looking at the desired outcomes, we need to shift our focus on your identity.
Making behavioural changes by focusing on your identity
The ultimate question you should ask is: who do you want to be?
To make real changes, we need to first understand who we want to be. A habit change is not just a change of an act, but a change of your identity. The goals you set should be in line with your desired change of identity.
Therefore, when you wish to set a goal to read more books, you should instead think of yourself as a lifelong learner. Your shift in mindset and your change in perception as to your identity is the key to making changes.
This is also the reason why a lot of people fail to make changes. People who think they easily get fat anyway are more likely to fail to make any substantial and long-term changes to their diet.
However, once you have decided the type of person you want to be, your brain is more likely to prompt you to act like that type of person, change the way you act, and help you prove yourself to be your desired type of person.
Thus, in order to make changes in your habits, you should first establish your identity. Once you have established your identity, you should take actions to prove and strengthen your identity.
How can I establish my identity?
An effective way to establish and strengthen your identity and change your perception of yourself is to start your day with an affirmation.
Affirmation is a great way to instil a positive self-image in your mind and to reinforce this perception.
It helps you to focus on your identity, which will serve as the key motivator in encouraging you to continue with your behavioural change.
This is also in line with the Miracle Morning routine proposed by Hal Elrod, which suggests that you should take some time in the morning repeat a positive statement about yourself so to reinforce your belief.
The Daily Journal Insert | Growth Journal of the ME Growth Planner is a tool to help you work on your affirmations every morning. Each daily insert consists of a morning and night journaling routine – both of which will help you to better organise your thought, understand yourself and reinforce your positive identity.
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Principle 2: Establish a system for developing good habits
Do you ever feel like you failed because you miss one day in your habit tracker?
Have you ever given up continuing developing a habit?
Many people may give up when they fail to see results after continuing with the habit for a short period of time. We have a tendency of getting disappointed when we have worked hard yet failed to see the results we wish to get.
However, when you choose to give up now, the effort you have put in previously would have been wasted as well.
The key to overcoming such disappointment is to focus on the system as a whole. This means that we have to learn to be patient and focus on continuing the operation of the system.
Forming a habit requires not only time, but also constant repetition. Only with repeated attempts can we successfully establish our own habitual system.
Therefore, instead of focusing on the results and outcomes, we should focus on the establishment and maintenance of our habit system. We should make sure it is running.
Instead of gaining a sense of satisfaction just from seeing the results, we will feel satisfied so long as we successfully maintain the system.
Want to build your own system? You can try using the Routines & Habits Set | The ME Growth Planner to try planning your desired routine and start sticking with it using the habit trackers included in the set.
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