How Do Your Habits Create Your Life?

by Yen Uy


[photo credits] Photo by Pixabay 40751 on Pexels

I woke up one Saturday morning with a question on my mind: should I workout today? I really like having and sticking to my routine. For ten years, I’ve had a very consistent habit of going to the gym five times a week. But when I experienced an injury, I had to completely stop and rest for about three months. I thought it would be easy to go back and pick it up again since it had been my habit for an entire decade. But on that Saturday–the day that was supposed to be my first one back–I felt that I just got really used to spending my Saturdays differently. I was making a lot of excuses on why I shouldn't go.

Then I remembered: Years ago, I decided that I am a fit person. Having been a couch potato for years with zero athleticism, I was really grateful to find a workout routine that I enjoyed so much that easily became my habit. After being consistent for years and loving my habit, I decided that it would be part of what defines me. So when I remembered that I see myself as a fit person, all my excuses dissipated. I thought: I’m ready to get back into it! It didn’t stop at going back to the gym. I decided to clean up my diet, too. I deliberately recommitted to being fit.

In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear says: “Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits.” I love that quote because it explains why habits are so powerful. You know how powerful a habit is when it actually becomes part of your identity. It doesn't even matter who you were before starting a new habit. If you do something consistently long enough, you become that new person. And when you identify as such, you create even more habits that reinforce that identity. You are making decisions based on that identity. Decisions easily turn into actions. The compounded actions you take create your life.

I talked about the positive, but of course this is also true in the negative. Think about those bad habits that you want to change. Then ask yourself: what do I believe about my identity that reinforces these habits? How are these habits creating my life?

To make your habits work for you, think of the version of yourself that you really want to become. Vividly imagine it and emotionally connect with that identity. Then, come back to the present and take stock of the habits that do not support the person you wish to become. Now, think about what old habits you will replace with new ones. Utilize your map and your starting point to guide you in this process.

Creating a new life does not happen instantaneously. It results from consistently building action upon action. As we commit our consistent actions into our identity, we create even more habits that support this identity. Whether we do this intentionally or not, the power is the same. So why not be intentional? We can always choose what habits to have and who we want to become.

Are you ready to create your life? Reach out and let me know how I can help!