Changing Identity: Part Three

“Walk slowly, but never backward.” — James Clear, Atomic Habits

Unfortunately, quotes like this often go in one ear and out the other.

By this, I mean people usually know what they’re supposed to do, but they never do it because they’re too busy panicking about things. This problem shows up most often in students, who spend so much time panicking that they never actually get any work done. We know we have a problem, and we know how to solve it… so why don’t we?

Well, in order to understand this, we first must understand James Clear’s Third Law of Behavioural Change: Make it Easy. We already know that in order for a habit to start, there must be a cue, followed by a craving. The third step, as referenced in the last article, is to make a habit attractive; make it something you crave. We can apply tricks like rewarding ourselves with things we enjoy doing, but if the task is too hard to achieve we’ll simply skip that and go straight for the reward. For example: if you tell yourself you can only watch TV after 1000 pushups, you’ll realize you can just skip the pushups altogether. Lower the required number of pushups, however, and your mindset shifts to “Okay, well… I don’t like this task very much, but it is a fair trade to make with myself. I suppose I’ll do it.” This logic can be applied anywhere, with multiple different techniques of approach.

Alright, now we understand why we don’t solve our problem of over thinking. But how does that apply to making habits? 

The answer is simple — succeeding in the task instantly becomes more imaginable. The most important part of doing anything is simply to start, and now we know why it’s so important. As Clear says, “The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.” The thing is, you probably already knew this and didn’t even realize it. Anybody that’s spent any amount of time learning how to play an instrument or learn a martial art knows this. In fact, anybody old enough to drive knows this — you can spend all day reading and thinking about those things, but it’ll never be quite as good as actually doing them. Sure, thinking definitely helps, and it’s a crucial part of learning, but it’s the baby steps. Eventually you have to move on to bigger steps — literally. Even babies stop crawling eventually.

To summarize, moving slowly is better than stopping and thinking about what moves to make. Even if you make mistakes on which way to move, you’re still learning about what NOT to do. That’s just as important as knowing what TO do. 

I encourage you to start moving toward your goals just a little bit today. Take a break from thinking and start making moves by making the task easy. 

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What makes things easier for you to do? What moves can you make to progress towards a goal you have? I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to like, comment on, and SHARE my other posts that go more in depth on the other laws of behavioural change. You might find that information useful, and if you don’t then a friend or family member certainly will. Stay tuned for future blog posts, and try to be the reason someone smiles today

— Chris

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