Hello and Welcome to Coffee&Junk.
Where we talk about Practical Life Skills (PLS) to help you get smarter, achieve
more, and win BIG in life. I’m your host Abhishek. Any kind of
change is hard. I’m pretty sure you know that already. But my question is, “Why is
it so damn easy to repeat bad habits, whereas it is so hard to form good ones?”
Habits like exercise, running, jogging, journaling—they’re very interesting when
you start. But they become a hassle, and more like a chore, and become a burden
after a few days. I’m sure that you agree that once habits have been
established it’s very easy for them to stick around, especially the bad ones. And
that is why it’s really so hard for you to quit smoking, to you know, stop binge
watching Netflix. To stop…to prevent, you know, save yourself from eating the
junk food. What do you have to understand is that your current behaviours are a
reflection, or a mirror image of your identity. If you like to throw house
parties, then maybe you’re the type of person who likes to throw house parties.
If you reach office late on a daily basis, most likely because you’re a type
of person who is unpunctual. Similarly, if you are always there for your friends,
then you are a kind of person who is loyal to her friends. Now listen…very
closely…because this is very important! Before you start changing your habits,
and form new ones, you have to focus on changing your identity. What you do right
now is a mirror image of the kind of person you believe you are—either
consciously or subconsciously. Building a new habit is like forming a new identity, which actually means that you have to set Identity-Based Goals. To be able to
change your behaviour for good, you have to start believing new things about
yourself. Imagine how we typically set goals. We start by saying, “I want to lose
10 kg,” or “I want to have six-pack abs,” and those goals are very outcome focused , not
identity focused. And it is normal for many people to begin the process of
habit change by focusing on what they want to achieve. That is okay, but that is
not full proof. That leads to a lot of issues. Rather than focusing on what we
wish to “achieve”, we have to be able to focus on what we
wish to “become”. Suppose I’m trying to resist a cigarette and you come and
offer me one. So what do I say? I say, “Hey man, I can’t have it because I’m
trying to quit,” right? It’s very normal for somebody to say that. But I still
inherently believe that I am a smoker who is trying to become something else.
Now take the second example. I’m still resisting a cigarette, and you come and
offer me one, and what do I say? I say, “Hey man, I’m not a smoker.” See, there’s a
subtle difference. First I said, “I’m trying to quit”—which means I’m a smoker who’s trying to do something else. My habit is not in
line with my belief system. But here I say something else. I say, “Hey man, I’m not
a smoker.” I believe that I’m not a smoker, hence I should not smoke. Which means
that whatever I’m doing—my behaviour is in line with my belief system, with my
identity. Now let me tell you what is inherently wrong with outcome based
goals. Suppose you want to lose 10kg, right, and you know what, you have taken up
a diet, you have stopped going out, and you’ve stopped completely eating junk
food. And now you are from, I don’t know 90 kilos, you are 80 kilos. What now? Do
you start eating junk food? Because you have achieved your goal. And you have won!
What you have to understand here is that building habit and behaviour change
is not like an exam, or a test, or maybe a tournament. It is something which is
there for life. It is it is a lifestyle, right? It is it is something very
different. It is what you do on a daily basis. It is not what you do as a sprint.
It’s a marathon which goes on for life, right? And once you…once you lar…start
looking at this from this point of view, things change drastically. So having said
that, changing your belief system isn’t nearly as hard as you think. It’s a
two-step process: first, choose the type of person that you want to become, and
second, prove it to yourself with small wins. Most likely you know what you
already want, right? Maybe you want to lose weight. Fair goal! You want to be
less anxious. Good enough! You want to double your salary. We all want that. So
those are good places to start right, and then once you’ve defined your results
that you want to achieve, you can backtrack and think of it this way, “What
kind of person would want that?” Hmm? So suppose you want to lose weight. So
your identity would be to become the kind of person who moves more every day. And how do you define small wins? Start by walking, maybe 50 steps after
you reach home from work. And every day increase it by 50 more steps.
So today 50 steps, tomorrow 100 day, day after tomorrow 150. Do it for 5 days a
week. And if you do it consistently then after a year you would have traveled
more than 10,000 steps a day—which is incredible! The key here is consistency.
Once you have decided what kind of person you want to become, you have
to signal your brain that this is who I am going to be. And then you prove it to
yourself as well as your brain through these baby steps, and small wins. So
here’s another example: you want to become strong. So your identity…it may be a kind of a person who never misses a workout. So your small wins would be to start doing push-ups, maybe three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There, I’ve set a routine for you. And I’m not asking you to do a hundred push-ups a
day. Start with maybe five push-ups, or in fact one. Nobody’s stopping you, right? And you can ask me, “What’s the point of one push-up? It doesn’t even give me result!”
It doesn’t give you result in terms of strength, right? But it signals your brain
that you are trying to become the person who never misses a workout.
If you do it consistently, initially it would mean nothing, right? You’ve done five, you’ve done ten. It’s easy! Do fifteen. Do it for six months. Do
it for a year. Do it for two years, and whenever you’re comfortable, when you’re
too comfortable, you think, “You know what, this is easy for me. 10 push-ups is like nothing. It’s
very easy,” up it, up your game! Make it 50. Make it a hundred. Ten sets of hundred
push-ups—who’s stopping you? But take baby steps, small wins. These baby steps
and the small improvements are only temporary until they become part of
your personality, of your identity. Remember, the goal is not to run a marathon. The goal is rather to become a runner. The
goal is not to read a book. The goal is to become a reader. The goal is not to
learn a new instrument. The goal is to become a musician. So I’m asking you, “What kind of identity have you decided to build for yourself?” Share your thoughts
and ideas in the comments below. And thanks a lot for watching this video. If
you found it useful, please like it, and share with friends who might find it
helpful. And if you want to learn more, please visit http://coffeeandjunk.com where I write on a weekly basis about ideas that make us smarter, help us achieve
more, and win BIG in life. I’ll see you soon with a new idea, and a new video.
Till then…peace!

Identity-Based Habits: How to Build Habits That Stick

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