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Your Habits Create Who You Are

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read
Your Habits Create Who You Are

Sean McCabe posted the following on Twitter last night:

To those over 40: What advice would you give a 30-year-old today?

I responded:

Your daily habits will create who you are at 40, 50, etc.

What you do daily compounds, just like interest on an investment. This can be used to foster the best or worst in you.

If you want to be a professional writer in a decade, start writing every day now. Posts, articles, books, courses, films, podcasts, and relationships with your audience will eventually emerge. Same goes for any creative pursuit.

Maintaining a habit is not easy for me, because I'm very habitual. Wait, what?

We all tend to embrace what’s least painful in our lives — comfort. It's extremely difficult to habitualize something that may cause short-term discomfort and very easy to habitualize the opposite.

James Clear addresses many ways to help sustain habits, but at a minimum I need rewards, reinforcement, clarity, some margin, and daily consistency (this one is just for me — many don't need this).

I started stationary biking 10 miles per day a year and a half ago. I've kept that up by doing it daily (needed for my brain to keep a streak), doing it early (before anyone wakes up), with a reward (I allow myself to watch whatever I want on an iPad while peddling — trash YouTube — whatever), and with clarity and margin (when I hit 10, I stop no matter what, sit down and meditate for 10 minutes).

This spring I started another habit. I kicked sugar (every kind) out of my diet. I followed my criteria above. I haven't had sugar, or grains of any kind, since. This is what happened:

Habits are incredibly powerful. They shape your life. The one I’m trying next may be the most difficult one I’ve ever attempted — writing daily in public. That's harder than it seems.

I write every day for my job, about 8-10 hours per day, and I journal nightly (a habit I started in 2010 and haven't missed a day since). Adding another writing habit, even if it's the one with the greatest long-term return, may be the hardest habit I could aspire to. But that's why it's so important. It means more. It might not work (which is Seth Godin’s definition of “art”). But I am so looking forward to this.