🗳️ Making a Vote for Your Identity
“Every action you take is a vote towards the person that you want to be.”— James Clear, from Atomic Habits
On the surface, this quote is so straightforward and steeped in common sense, yet it's something that we easily overlook. Some apire to take up crocheting, while others want to hit the gym. A few months in, this all fizzles out. The gyms get emptier than usual. Crocheters find their needles gathering dust. Why wait until next year to make that change? Afterwards, why let that momentum halt to a grind?
As an immigrant, when I first heard of the concept of "New Years Resolutions" I had the mindset of "I'm going to be better this coming year", it made me feel as if I was distant from my goal. As if, I were powerless to reach that goal. That may sound dramatic but the "time frame" this gave made it feel distant. As if it were literally 365 days in the future when I would magically turn into a better version of myself without needing to do anything for it.
I do not wait until New Years to think of it as a time to reinvent myself anymore. I view everyday as a chance to upgrade myself from yesterday instead. I say to myself, "You're either going to do something little about it this today, or nothing about it forever". Becoming something shouldn't be a goalpost, it should be part of your life-support system as much as breathing is.
⏰ The 3 Alarms and the Ideal Week System
I currently have a calendar called "My Ideal Week" (idea from Ali Abdaal). The premise of it is simple. If I want to have a date night with my partner every week, I put it as an event in there, whether it'll happen or not. Gym / exercise time? Add that too. Listening to audiobooks, or podcasts? We can stack that on gym time. The point is, once it's on the calendar, then it's easy to know where you should be going and what you should be doing. The ideal calendar works symbiotically with the next thing I'm going to say below.
I have read a book called the The 3 Alarms by Eric Partaker which is more or less a distilled version of Atomic habits with a greater emphasis on the identity part. To summarize the book and how I am currently taking action on them:
- It encourages you to set 3 identities for yourself, identities which each represent "the best version of you" depending on what you value about Health, Work, and Relationships. For example, you can pretend to be "Keaneu Reeves" when it comes to your relationships, and "Vsauce" when it comes to being a teacher, or their attributes "Being the best lover and fighter" (for relationships), and "being a quirky yet awe inspiring teacher" (for work)
- Then it asks you to set alarms for right places and times where you need to whip out those identities. What I did instead was put those items as calendar events and then asked Apple Shortcuts to automatically create arms for each of those 3 identity's events' start times. This allows me to modify the alarms whenever life happens without needing to tinker in the clock settings for several minutes.
- Finally, it encourages regular reflections of whether you're reaching your best self that you set up, whether you're failing at anything, and whether there is anything you're learning along the way. Some of the sentences from my past few articles are from jotted notes I made in those reflections!
So when taking the identity framework from the book, and the ideal calendar, coupled with alarms, I now created countless nudges to remind myself to go do that thing.
🤔 So, what's the point of all of this?
Believe it or not, every place I have worked at always had some sort of "goal-setting" database in place. Between you and me, I always thought of it as corporate bussinesy stuff, as no one actually seriously follows up on those goals unless you seriously seek your coworker as an accountability partner. But after I applied it to my personal life, I have seen gradual improvements in the 3 different areas of my life, and significantly even more from the past half of a decade. In fact, my "Work" identity has its own little evidence database, as I reflected on every time I "voted" for it by doing some sort of specific action about it. Should anyone really want me to follow up on those goals, I have those ballots counted and ready to show.
Election puns aside, it actually helps me be on a more directed path to life in general. Granted setting it up and spending 10 minutes a day to reflect on the happenings may seem annoying, but even reflection is a muscle that needs training and can come easier as you do it more and has compounding effects over time as you look at yourself from a birds-eye view of your reflections.
So, how do you “vote” for your identity? Got any little nudges of your own? Leave it in the comments below!
✍️ Quote of the Day
I share half-baked ideas all the time. Doing so helps my writing because I can run ideas through numerous filters, such as blogs, tweets, and email newsletters. By the time I’ve published an essay like this one, I’ve run the ideas through various forms of low-cost, high-speed trial-and-error. Each time I receive feedback, I keep more of what resonates and less of what doesn’t.