two horses drawing a wagon with a man

I’ve seen this piece of advice over and over in my years of reading books. And I tried it, and it works. I see so many people not doing this that it amazes me, as the advice is everywhere (though I haven’t seen it stated so succinctly and broadly as by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits). So in case you haven’t heard the news:

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”

When I was starting out as an exerciser, I read a book that exhorted me to call myself a “runner,” not a “jogger.” The first implies seriousness and consistency, while the second implies a recreational activity done only once in a while. Do I run most days? Yes: I’m a runner.

When I was starting out as a writer, I read a book that exhorted me to call myself a “writer,” not an “aspiring writer.” If I sit down and write most days, I am a writer. Publishing is beside the point, just a bonus. To call myself an aspiring writer would imply that I aspire to write, but don’t actually do it. Do I write? Yes: I’m a writer.

This method applies to anything you want to do. Think of it not as something you want to do, but as someone you already are. Even if you just started it yesterday, it can still be who you are. Falling off the wagon is rather difficult when you are a wagon rider, and that’s your identity, who you are as a person.

Who are you?

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