Habits and Identity

“I am a creature of habit. It is how I choose to be and to act in the world.“ I say this to myself everyday as I carry out the things I said I would constantly do. It is a statement that speaks about identity and pride in being someone who tries to build good habits. I was reminded of this while reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Having an action tied to who we think we are provides it the reason for repetition. Even as the outcomes are not yet apparent, we keep at it because it is a reflection of who we are. For instance, we may not be seeing the weight loss but we keep exercising and eating healthy because we are a “healthy person”. Every time we act accordingly, it is a vote that adds to the evidence of this identified self.

One needs to be vigilant then with habits. Sometimes the beliefs about the self held strongly compel people to keep at it even if the doing does not suit their current context anymore. Habits are automatic actions that become a person’s default. If these are not revisited and held against circumstances that have shifted, then they may not contribute to the overall improvement that one seeks. The shifting world and uncertainty that beset us call for this revisiting of practices that may have once worked. It is an opportunity to shift gears or even find new ones as a response to the times.

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