Two chapters into James Clear's Atomic Habits and I'm already feeling like this is the unified theory of self-improvement. Some fellow Beeminder users and I will be reading and discussing this book over the next couple of months, but I suspect that I'm going to have a hard time pacing myself!

I already tend to be process-oriented rather than goal-oriented, but James Clear brings in another important element: what do your habits mean for your identity?

Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.

The goal of establishing a new "good" habit isn't to just earn points with the universe. It's to become the kind of person who consistently does that thing and therefore gets the benefits. Not to try and quit smoking, but to be a non-smoker. Reframe every action as a vote for a particular identity[1], a way of adding evidence that you are the kind of person you want to be.

So taking the time to write, edit, and publish even a trivial note about what's on my mind will be my evidence that I'm a writer.


  1. This goes well with Jack Cheng's "Habit Fields" at A List Apart: when you take an action in a particular environment, you train yourself to believe that environment is where that kind of thing happens. ↩︎