“If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses, and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.” Although life is not just an algorithm or a statistic, we indeed are what we do on a regular basis. According to James Clear, author of the bestseller “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” (Random House Business), the most effective way to change our habits and improve ourselves in midlife is to focus not on what we want to achieve, but also on who we wish to become.
In midlife, a time of reinvention and awakening, it’s important to know who we are and where we want to belong to. It’s never too late to be what we might have been but time in our 50s is not our best friend.
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure – he says-. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
So, what can we do to change our bad habits?
It’s not easy. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because we don’t want to change, but because we have the wrong system for change. For James Clear:
The results are not what we need to change—it’s the process behind the results. And it’s the habits and systems that naturally lead those outcomes that are the more effective place to direct our time, attention, and energy. True long-term thinking is goalless thinking. Goals are about winning this instance of a game. Systems are about continuing to play the game.
So, if we want better results, we should forget about setting goals but focusing on our system instead.
In the end, we get what we repeat and if we want to build a new habit and see a change we have to be persistent because if we stop doing it, then it’s no longer a habit. And so we need to start looking at changes like this as “a lifestyle to be lived, and not a finish line to be crossed”. Ultimately, it is our commitment to the process that will determine our progress.
Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if we’re willing to stick with them for years. An Atomic Habit is a regular practise or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.
The Four Laws of Behavior Change
For James Clear, habits are the compound interest of self-improvement and getting 1 per cent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.
Following this simple set of rules might help to build better habits.
Make it obvious
“The process of behaviour change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current one you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top. This is called habit stacking. ”
Make it attractive
“Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.”
Make it easy
“The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning. Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress”.
Make it satisfying
“To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful—even if it’s in a small way.”
Ageing is changing
Midlife is a time of transformation, a potential second birth of adult identity. Improvements in our life require awareness, dedication, and a new approach to our daily routine.
Your identity emerges out of your habits – writes James Clear-. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become and becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs and to upgrade and expand your identity.
The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your beliefs about yourself.