The Atomic Habits {mini} Series Section 1 | Finding Your Identity

Last week I started a read-along with This Splendid Shambles {and co.} of Atomic Habits by James Clear. Basically, a group of us would read a section of the book a week to then discuss and dissect. Now, this is a book I have previously delved through but has been on my list to re-start as {to be honest} my first attempt was pretty half arsed. So when I saw Anjali {from TSS} was starting a read-along I instantly signed up.

The first section of Atomic Habits is focused on setting up the fundamentals of why tiny changes make a big difference, including how habits shape your identity. Now at the end of the first week {and into the second} I have been considering how I see my own identity and how someone with this identity would think and act. To do this, James Clear suggests asking yourself the question “what would someone XYZ do?”

For example, using the identity of someone with clear skin, someone who takes pride in their appearance, someone who is financially responsible, someone who is a good parent, someone who has a successful business or someone who is organised and tidy. What would each of these people do?

Let’s take the example of someone with clear skin. What would someone with clear skin do?

They would probably have a considered and consistent skin care routine. They probably wouldn’t overly touch or pick at the skin or blemishes. They would have a diet rich in nutrients and ensure a good intake of water. They may take skin health supplements which compliment their diet, use sunscreen regularly and they would probably be mindful of the skin care products and make-up they were using.

Which of these habits or actions could we implement in our daily lives to become that person with clear skin? The answer {surprisingly or not} is that we could actually implement most if not all of these actions. Yet a lot of us don’t.

To look at another example, what would someone who is financially responsible do? They would probably set a budget, they would monitor their income and expenditure and ensure the one doesn’t outweigh the other. They would be mindful of how they spent their money and ensure there is a contingency for emergencies. Perhaps they don’t take out credit. Perhaps they do but pay it off regularly. Perhaps everything they own is on credit so they are “cash rich”. Again, implementing all or some of these actions may seem fairly straightforward. But for many even the {perceived} simplest action could be incredibly difficult, overwhelming or seemingly impossible.

This example also brings into consideration different people’s interpretation of what being financially responsible means. The same with other subjective identities such as parenthood. What one person considers “good” may be very different to another’s, and so on.

Of course identities {and their habits} don’t need to be quite so all encompassing. Instead of considering what would an organised person do you may want to think about something more specific to you and areas you’d like to form better habits, for example asking yourself what would someone on top of their laundry do? They’d probably have a consistent routine from sorting to folding and putting clothes away. They may delegate tasks to others within their household or even budget for use of an outside laundry service etc.

Use this free resource to help you think the identity {or identities} you’d like to incorporate into your life, consider what someone with this identity would do and which of their habits you could implement into your own life.

The next step is to prioritise which identify and habit{s} to focus on first. Again, whilst all or many of these actions may appear fairly small and easy to implement, putting them all together is probably going to be counterproductive and end up causing self-sabotage. To think big, start off thinking small {hence the term atomic habits}.

Again, use the free resource {above} to make your own action plan.

Making habits stick

So you’ve chosen your identify, considered what someone with this identity may do and created some habits you can thread into your daily life in order to implement that identity. What’s next? How do you make these new habits stick?

James Clear sets out 4 simple steps to build better habits – Make them obvious, make them attractive, make them easy and make them satisfying.

In the next post in the Atomic Habits {mini} Series we’ll start to explore the first of these steps – making systems {or cues} for behaviour change obvious.

Published by Ellie Hully

Business Health & Home Pro Clerking

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