76 - Habit-building 4: Identity is the root; behavior, the flower



How we see things affects how we feel about things and how we feel about things shapes how we act.

But what decides how we see things? It is who we are, our identity. That is the root.

Think of the most fundamental roles you play in life: parent, child, spouse. Think of how your identity auto-arranges your priorities. It doesn’t take decision-making or willpower reserves for you to do what is needed. You may say, Isn’t that obvious?

It is. Now imagine your life once you no longer identify yourself with a fundamental role. You have to drag yourself to drop your wife at work or take your parents to the doctor. Caring suddenly becomes ten times a burden.

Any meaningful change you want to make in your life is a new identity you will assume. You want your new behaviors to be automatic, not effortful. A transformation in your behavior can only be auto-powered by a transformation in your identity.

Behavior follows identity. What you do follows who you see yourself as. If you want to consistently act a certain way without needing external motivation, be someone for whom that behavior is most natural.

Tactics and hacks reverse faster than you think. They work only after the foundation is correct. The foundation is what stands the test of time.

Identity is the root; behavior is the flower that everyone admires. You cannot plant cut flowers and hope that something grows–I’m not a botanist but I would assume this is harder.

For long-term change, you will have to replant yourself. Once you accept this, you can only give yourself time and not be hard on yourself when you don’t see flowers overnight.

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