Behavior changes starts with an identity change.
Clear explains that one reason why we fail to stick with habits is that our self image gets in the way. We tell ourselves that we are trying to become a person who exercises daily instead of making the identity shift into believing that you are a person who exercises daily. This is the best way to be intrinsically motivated, if you identify as a fit person who enjoys exercise then the habit that sustains that identity becomes easier. One thing Clear wrote that really stuck with me on this topic is “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become”. It sounds hyperbolic but when you really think about it, it rings true.
Forget goals, focus on systems.
Clear emphasizes that systems are what keep our habits running and eventually lead us to our goals. There are a few issues with a goals first mentality. One issue is that it’s harder to live in the moment and enjoy your day to day life if you are just striving for a goal. Another issue is what happens when you hit your goal? Most of us don’t savor that feeling, we just move the milestone. Clear asks us to fall in love with the process, to savor the systems that keep us slowly moving towards the people we want to be. This way, as long as your systems are running you feel content and satisfaction. I’ve been trying this out for the last 6 weeks since I finished the book and I really like it. I’ve put systems in place (daily exercise, reading and meditation) without goals per se aside from putting in the time. Just knowing that my systems are running feels great! The quote from this section that I keep coming back to is “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
The book is filled with more concepts, these are just two that really stuck with me. This book has something for everyone. If you have struggled to make a habit change last I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits.