Repetitive actions make your identity. In that way, little daily habits sum up in the long run, molding your identity.
For instance: If you wake up early every day, then you’re a morning person. If you work out regularly throughout the week, then you are an athletic person. If you yell at your kids every day, then you’re a bad parent.
In this article, I will share with you a frame of reference to raise your awareness of your own identity, and to mold it into what you want to be.
I encourage you to personally apply these guidelines in your own life, in your own way should you choose to.
Make your good habits overweight the bad ones
“Once a cheater, always a cheater” (Any “Friends” fan here?)
If you don’t go to the gym one week because you have the flu, it doesn’t mean that you no longer are an athletic person. (Although you probably are going to lose some muscle for being ill.)
That one week doesn’t tip the scale when weighed against all the workout weeks.
Every now and then there will be a more urgent and important task getting in the middle of your routine.
For instance, if your arrive home and find your dog choking with a toy that he found in your son’s room, I’m sure you are going to run to the veterinarian without even feeling guilty of skipping that one-hour meditation that you have planned.
Even if you skipped a one-hour meditation session that time, you still are mentally healthy. And this can be told by weighting all the meditation sessions that you did against the ones that you skipped.
–Don’t let random events define your identity–
Improve every day by 1%
Atomic Habits from James Clear taught me that if you improve by 1% every single day, at the end of the year you will be 37 times better:
This is very hard to internalize because we tend to think the improvement is linear, but as the equation shows you: It’s exponential. This means that you won’t see the results in the short run because the increment is almost unnoticeable.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Aristotle
Improvement, even if not visible, is compounding just one percent at a time. When the time comes, when the new habits have molded your identity, you will embrace the beauty of delayed gratification.
–Don’t rush it–
Start with the end in mind
Let your better self in the future take the decisions for you. He/she is older and wiser, so he/she knows better.
Waking up late this Saturday, and spending an entire afternoon watching Netflix sounds like a pretty good deal to your current you. The one that has been locked 10 hours every day in the office last week. So, you think you totally deserve watching The Money Heist, from start to finish, because you worked your ass off.
But, would the future entrepreneur that you want to become, be happy with a decision like that? What would that entrepreneur do if he had 48 hours at his entire disposal? Maybe he would start that market research that he has been postponing because he knows that during the week he won’t be able to do it.
Do you remember when you used to have school/ university exams? What did you do if you wanted to pass the exam? You studied what was needed, just the basics. However, what if you wanted to get good grades? You studied even harder, you set aside non-important tasks to take some time to study.
With that good grade in mind, you were unstoppable and wiser to decide what was a waste of time or not.
I invite you to let your future-self decide what to do tomorrow. If you feel that you advanced towards your goals more than today, I invite you to do it for one entire week.
The decisions taken by your future-self doesn’t have to be life-changing. Even with a subtle 1% daily improvement, you’re going to start having the power to build your own identity.
Sentence to take home: Don’t let stochastic events define your identity, let your future-self define it.