“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung
Back in 2005 BC (before children), my wife and I had a chance to take a 10-day private boat trip to The Dry Tortugas. As I packed for the trip, I impulsively grabbed a book from the shelf that had been sitting there for quite a while unread: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
I did not know it at the time, but this act of impulsivity would spark a lifelong journey to leadership and entrepreneurship – beginning with my love for habits. Because the right habits done consistently can set you on a trajectory for a meaningful life.
In last month’s post, Focus on The Start, I shared the work of James Clear. As he says in his book, Atomic Habits, when you have a big goal, or a new identity you want to achieve, focusing on the start each day and just getting moving will allow you to make steady progress toward the achievement of an outcome that you desire.
It was actually the book’s subtitle that initially caught my eye – making me eager to dive in: “An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.” In the book, Clear talks about how habits are not necessarily good or bad – because everything we routinely do each day is meant to produce a desired outcome. For me, those habits or routines include:
- Exercising first thing each morning. This clears my mind and makes my body feel better.
- Eating a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon at 3 p.m. Not only does it taste delicious, it gives me a boost of energy during the time of day that I am least productive.
- Having lunch every Thursday with my wife.
Clear says that it is less important to classify habits as good or bad – and more important to evaluate them based on their long-term impact. Does this habit or task or routine move you closer to your desired life, goal, or identity?
Another good way to develop self-awareness is by Pointing and Calling. When you call out your habits, and verbalize why you are doing them, you are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to understand the real impact of your habits – good or bad.
I am exercising to be a healthy person so I can take an annual ski trip – and ski on advanced runs with my son, creating memories and a time of connection. Hearing your habits helps you focus on becoming the type of person you want to be – not getting a particular outcome. In the beginning, it is far more important to cast small votes for your desired identity than to worry about a particular result.