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Atomic Habits: How to Build a Habit

I've had friends mention they admire my willpower for going to martial arts practice 3-4 times a week. We practice at night, so I will often be hanging with friends behorehand and then say, "Sorry y'all, I've got to go - I've got Muay Thai at 6!"

But what my friends don't get is that it's easy for me to leave a fun time with friends, and show up to practice. I've been doing it so long that at this point, it's just a habit. It requires zero willpower. It's just like, "Oh, it's 6pm - time to go to practice."

One of the keys to reaching your goals is learning how to control your habits. Once you learn how to control your habits, you can basically reach your goals on autopilot! Why learn to control your habits? Well, whether you realize it or not, you already have habits. And if you're not controlling them, then chances are they are controlling YOU! Do you brush your teeth every morning? Do you reach for your phone as soon as you wake up? Do you take a shower every day? Do you walk home every day after work? Do you watch your favorite TV show every evening? Do you have brunch with friends on Sundays? Chances are, you already have a bunch of habits, but they have been created on autopilot.

You can think of your mind like a ship that is lazily drifting down the ocean each day. The ship is drifiting somewhere every day, whether you decide to take the wheel and steer it or not. Chances are, you may eventually drift onto a tropical island where you can find paradise and eat fresh coconuts every day. But, chances are equally good that you could drift into a terrible storm that will ruin your ship. If you're not controlling the ship, then you can't decide where it ends up.

Me on a boat, after an incredible snorkeling experience But what if you grabbed the wheel and steered your ship right toward that tropical island? Let's say the island is 100 miles away. It sounds far, but if you just cover 10 miles per day, you'll reach paradise in 10 days. This is what it's like to take control of your habits.

So what is the key to controlling your habits? Learning how habits shape our identity!

One of my absolute favorite books, Atomic Habits, taught me that habits are directly linked to our identity. The more you repeat a behavior, you more you reinforce the identity assoicated with that behavior.

Each time you write a page, you are a writer. Each time you sing a song, you are a musician. If you lift weights 3 times a week, you are a weightlifter.

I've been going to martial arts practice for several months now, so I now identify as a martial artist. So when the clock hits 6pm, of course I will go to practice - it's not even a question. It's just who I am. It's what I do.

Me at martial arts practice

The great news is that it can take as little as 3 weeks to form a habit. (This statistic is from Atomic Habits by James Clear) So the first few weeks can be a challenge, but after that, it's EASY! You just have to get through that first tough bit.

What identity do YOU want to embody? And which regular habit will help you get there?

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