Guest post from Courage To Lead coach, Danny Anderson
In a recent book I read called Atomic Habits, James Clear defined a habit as “a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.” A habit is something we do without even thinking. It has become second nature. Studies show that 40% of our everyday behavior is habitual because we are definitely creatures of habit. The only question is what kind of habits do we have?
All habits create a result. There is a cumulative value to whatever you repeatedly do, for good or bad. If you keep a good diet and exercise, you will eventually get into shape. If you smoke a pack a day over 10 years, you are going to damage your body. If you invest daily in your most important relationships, your quality of life will increase.
If I want an area of my life to change for the better, I must look at changing my habits in that area. It has been said, “Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re getting.” If a person wants to have a breakthrough in their marriage, their finances, their health, their relationship with God, or their sexual purity, it really is as simple as creating the proper habits that will create a new behavior. Jim Rohn said, “Success is a few good habits repeated every day. Failure is a few bad decisions repeated every day.” But is it really that simple? Well, yes and no.
Our self-perception shapes our habits.
Habitual behavior has roots. Those roots run deeply into the core understanding of ourselves. The great personal development expert Zig Ziglar explained, “We cannot consistently perform in a way that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.”
In other words, our long-term behavior is really an outflow of our self-perception. James Clear agreed by stating, “Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.”What we do in the long term will flow from our view of ourselves.
So, if we want to create some new habits that will change our lives, we must spend less time focusing on changing results, and more time focusing on who we are. We must answer the question, “Who?” before we answer the question, “What?”
How do we change our self-perception?
The ironic thing is that we can literally change our self-perception with habitual behavior. Clear states, “The most practical way to change yourself is to change what you do.” In other words, the more you do something, the more you believe that you are the type of person who does that thing.
The more we repeat a behavior, the more evidence we give ourselves that we are the type of person who behaves that way; for instance the more you write, the more you believe you are a writer. The more you run, the more you believe you’re a runner and so on. We can literally behave ourselves into a new identity. Once the identity is solidified, the behavior will become second nature, and the new habit is formed.
Two questions to consider:
1. What is your self-perception?
2. What actions can you take to change your self-perception?