Are you a New Year’s Resolution person? If so, how’s it going so far? Are you sticking
with it, or have you already slipped or completely forgotten what it was? Many of us set
a goal or goals at the start of a new year, but few of us are able to achieve them. In
James Clear’s bestselling book Atomic Habits, Clear explains what we may be doing
wrong and how to fix this problem.

One suggestion Clear describes is to break goals down into small changes that
gradually lead us to big results. The first step in doing this is to figure out who we wish
to become, not what we want to achieve. Clear talks about this in detail in Chapter 2 of
his book, but here is a short summary.

Most people try to establish outcome-based habits instead of what Clear calls
“identity-based habits”. Here’s the difference: I often have clients who say they want to
lose weight. Okay. Most of us do. But, as Clear points out, if they “don’t shift the belief
behind the behavior, then it becomes hard to stick with long-term changes.” They have
to know who they are first or a switch to good habits will only be temporary.

The goal for a student for example is not to get good grades. The goal is to become a
person who studies every day. The goal is not to win the game but rather to become a
person who practices every day. As Clear says, “The more you repeat a behavior, the
more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior. And the more you
reinforce the identity, the more natural it will feel to repeat the behavior.”

Here is a personal example: I am the type of person who cares about being physically
fit. The habit I will be focusing on is going to the gym at least four times a week. I am
the type of person who cares about my community. The habit I will focus on is doing
volunteer work in my community at least once a month. Since these habits reinforce my
identity, why would I not do them? Remember to start by focusing on who you want to
become, not what you want to achieve.

Here’s a simple homework assignment for you. Complete these two sentences: “I’m
the type of person who___________”. So “The habit I’ll be focusing on
is________________.”

Enjoy discovering who you really are!