In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he writes that to change a habit you must first change your identity and frame your habits in light of the person you wish to become. For example, if you wish to quit smoking, instead of saying “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.”, Clear recommends saying “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.”

When declaring a new identity, all of our habits and behaviors serve to “cast a vote” to either confirm or counteract that identity. If we claim an identity of being healthy (rather than losing weight), each time we make a healthy food choice or walk by the treats in the break room we’re casting a vote to show that we are healthy. The positive actions compound to become a habit that solidifies the identity we have chosen.

Clear writes that, as in election, you don’t need to be perfect or to accumulate all the votes to win, you just need a majority. If you do something counter to your identity, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, rather just change your behavior to cast more votes in the other direction.

Think about the identity that you wish to become and claim that persona for yourself. Are you an artist? An entrepreneur? A fit person? A life-long learner? A writer? Own the vision of your future self and start casting votes today to help you achieve long-term victory.

Source: Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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