The word I’ve chosen for 2021 is purposeful. And what better way to live up to this word by establishing habits that serve a purpose.
Purposeful as defined by Merriam-Webster is synonymous with meaningful or intentional. With purposeful habits, you create a life in alignment with who you are and who you want to be.
While on a recent road trip, I finished a book (in record time!) I never knew existed titled, The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino. I heard about it during Tim Ferris’ podcast interview with Matthew McCounaghey about his New York Times bestseller, Greenlights (currently in my reading rotation). It grabbed my attention because it focused on personal development. With only 73 pages in Kindle version, it was a very quick read. However, the concepts would take time to absorb and put into action.
Why do I bring up a book about being ‘the greatest salesman?’ Because of the message it delivered that is applicable to all areas of life – particularly developing positive habits.
“Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey which precedeth all others is – I will form good habits and become their slave.”
– Og Mandino
Becoming a slave to good habits, what does that look like? As creatures of habit, we can see habits defining our health and our well-being. Everyday automatic behaviors have shaped you to the person who you are today. Is this the person who you see yourself as? Or is there a disconnect? How can you close the gap between the person you are today and the person you want to become?
“Thus a new and good habit is born, for when an act becomes easy through constant repetition it becomes a pleasure to perform and if it is a pleasure to perform it is man’s nature to perform it often. When I perform it often it becomes a habit and I become its slave and since it is a good habit this is my will.”
– Og Mandino
Make your Habits Purposeful, Aligned with Your Identity
First let’s rewind and ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who do I want to become?’ This is the first step of James Clear’s 2-step process to change your identity: To decide the type of person you want to be. I feel like I’m a broken record when I point out the importance of writing a powerful Wellness Vision statement. But it’s always worth repeating! The process of self-reflection and self-discovery provides the clarity of who you want to be and the behaviors that would lead you in alignment with your defined identity.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, has dedicated a chapter in his book about “How Your Habits Shape Your Identity and (Vice Versa). If you’re serious about making significant habit changes, I recommend picking up a copy of his book!
“Your habits are how you embody your identity”
– James Clear
As an example, I identify as a runner. I’m someone who likes to go for a run whether it’s for fun (socialize with friends), for stress relief (alone with my thoughts), or for wellness. Running is a part of my lifestyle and it’s something I’ve done for the past 20+ years.
Recently, I’m working towards becoming a ukulelist! Odd word but it’s a person who plays the ukulele. One of the habits I wrote down on the Team RWB Healthy Habits Challenge is to strum my ukulele for at least 10 minutes. I’m learning how to play worship songs with aspirations to be a part of my community church worship team or the children’s ministry worship. I’m excited that I’ve been able to do it 7 out of the past 10 days. And have noticeably improved each time I play.
As James Clear points out, a new identity requires new evidence. Evidence meaning you need proof that’s based on your actions. So this is the second step of changing your identity: To prove it to yourself with small wins. Spending 10 minutes playing my ukulele is a rewarding experience for me. It’s a small win that gives me great pleasure and proof that I’m becoming a ukulelist 🙂
You are Your Habits!
Examine your current habits and distinguish which ones are leading you towards and which ones are hindering you from becoming who you want to be. Purposeful habits help you thrive and tap into your utmost potential as you align your behaviors with your desired identity. What do those habits look like for you?
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Books mentioned in this post:
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