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Are Your Bad Habits Holding You Back From Success?

I just finished reading James Clear’s book called Atomic Habit. It promotes the idea that tiny changes can bring forth remarkable results. A pretty simple idea, right? But talk about powerful.

I have always been fascinated by the human mind. I’m constantly trying to better understand how we think and feel and how that affects our daily lives. I’ve sort of convinced myself that if I could just crack the code on how our complex brains work, maybe I could become a better me.

There were a lot of really interesting and useful tools I found in this book. For me, I wanted to break some of my “bad” habits and replace them with healthier habits. For example, I want to write more, but for some reason, I rarely schedule time to write. I guess I just figure that when inspiration strikes, I will be ready to answer the call. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, lol.

Clear lays out how our minds react to cues in our environment, and how we use those cues to spark an action. The action being our habit that we perform over and over again. He then goes on to give a highly practical approach on how we can dismantle our bad habits, and how we can replace them with better habits—habits that more directly align with what kind of person we want to be.

One of the things that struck me the most was how Clear talked about a common misconception when it comes to motivation. How a lot of people set goals for themselves, but that our habits make it hard to see goals to the end. We have to have a shift in our mindset to really achieve change. For example, I can make a goal to write a novel by the end of the year. It sounds doable and attainable, and it probably is. But what I am missing is the mindset. Instead of setting such a firm goal, I should instead say, “I want to be the kind of person who writes every day.”

This very small shift in my mindset allows me to focus less on the goals I set, and more on who I am. He encouraged self-exploration and wanted readers to ask: What kind of person do you want to be? And to use the answer as a roadmap.

So now instead of saying, “Oh, I’d like to lose 20 pounds before the summer.” I can say instead: “I want to be the kind of person who goes to gym and exercises.”

Our goals become much more attainable when we align them with who we are fundamentally. For me, my mindset looks something like this: I want to be the kind of person who writes every day, the kind of person who goes to the gym, the kind of person who is an outstanding friend, and the kind of person who is a loving daughter and supportive sister.

So, ask yourself what kind of person do you want to be?

Even if you are a responsible and efficient adult, I think Clear can still offer some secret insight to how we react to our environments. And who knows? Maybe there are some habits you have that you didn’t even realize were possible to change.

Good luck out there, and I hope that if you’re struggling with meeting goals and following a routine, that maybe Atomic Habit can give you the same clarity it did for me.

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Stephen Woodfin
Stephen Woodfin
Apr 27, 2022

Great stuff, Grady. It makes me want to do some digging into what sort of person I want to be, too.

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