I recommend you read this article before this one.
How many times did you fail to continue good habits (exercise, meditation, journaling) for more than a few days/weeks even if you are motivated? Also how many times you failed to break bad habits (browsing social media, watching funny videos, eat unhealthily, procrastination) even if you have full intentions, motivation?
I failed countless times.
Why is it so easy to repeat bad habits and so hard to form good habits?
There are two reasons for changing habits is challenging.
- We try to change the wrong thing.
- We try to change our habits in the wrong way.
Lets deep dive into these reasons.
How we try to change the wrong thing also the wrong way
What does this mean by “We try to change the wrong thing”? To understand it look at the picture below.
There are three layers in the picture.
- Changing your outcomes: This layer focused on changing your results like lose weight, publishing books. Goals are based on this layer.
- Changing your process: This layer focused on changing your habits and systems like set a routine for exercise, meditation. Habits you build bases on this layer.
- Changing your identity: This layer is the deepest layer. This layer focus on your beliefs like your self-image, your judgments about yourself, and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are based on this layer.
Outcomes are about what you get. Process are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.
Most of the time we the process of changing our habits by focusing on what we want to achieve(Outcomes). This called Outcome-based habits.
Previously I am always starting with outcome-based habit. I just want to change my results, not identity and process.
You have a new goal and new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.
I tried to wake up at 6:00 am in the morning. But I believed I am not a morning person. Then it was really hard to stick on that more than 5–7 days. This was the opposite of who I am.
When we are start building habits we are trying to change outcomes not who we are. This is we try to change the wrong thing.
When we start changing the wrong thing this leads us to the wrong way. We are in the wrong way it becomes hard. Then we quit very soon. Because we are trying to change who we are not.
Focusing on who you wish to become called identity-based habits. This way starts with what we believe. What we believe it is very easy to act on that.
Behind every system of action are a system of beleifs.
I had to change my goal of waking up at 6:00 am in the morning by saying I am a morning person. Then I start believing it. Now waking up in the morning becomes easier for me. Because of that belief, I act like that. I go to bed early, stop using the phone on the bed. It was easier to change my system and then the system takes care of my results.
True behaviour changes is identity change.
When our identity changed it is really easy to act on that. If you believe you are a healthy person it's really easy for you to avoid junk food and exercise daily.
The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.
Identity-based is the right way of changing habits, Outcome-based is not. If you want to build habits easily and sustainable then stick with Identity-based habits.
Thank you for reading this. I appreciate your time and effort.