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Transistor Team

1 min

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Justin [00:03:30]:

Is this the idea that every action you take or every habit you develop is a vote for the person you want to become?

James Clear [00:03:43]:

Right? So that's kind of like my core philosophy behind it. This idea that the way that we develop beliefs about ourselves, that we reinforce our self image, that we develop our identity to a certain degree is largely reinforced by the experiences and behaviors that we perform over time. So some aspects of your identity are relatively fixed. Like for example, if you're tall or short. But even that idea that I am tall or I am short, that's reinforced. You learn that through experiences in life. Now, there are many aspects of your identity that are less fixed than that but are still reinforced by your experiences. So if you write one sentence today, you probably don't think about yourself as I am a writer, but if your do that every day for six months or nine months or a year, at some point your turn around and you think, maybe I am the kind of person who is a writer. Or if you study biology every Tuesday night for 20 minutes, you at some point think, I guess I'm studious. I keep doing this every week. Maybe this is the kind of person I am. And so I like that idea that our habits are like votes for the type of person we believe that we are, that they build up evidence of looking at ourselves in a certain way. And I like to phrase it that way not only because I believe it's true, but also beliefs and behavior are kind of a two way street, right? So you'll hear people say things like, well, just be positive or just believe in yourself or fake it till you make it or things like that. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with fake it till you make it. It's fine to be positive and believe things about yourself. But it's a very short term strategy because fake it till you make it is asking you to believe something about yourself without having evidence for it. It's like that kind of visualization stuff or mantra stuff where you look at yourself in the mirror and you tell yourself I am a writer. I am a writer, even though you haven't written yet. And so what I'm saying is similar, but I think importantly different in the sense that you let the behavior lead the way rather than the belief. And I think that's the best lever we have for changing the way that we look at ourselves, which is to say show up and write a sentence every day, and soon you're going to have something to root that new identity of I am a writer in. And it's a much more, I think, robust and long term way of changing how you look at yourself.

Justin [00:06:17]:

Yeah, I think for the because you first communicated that idea to me in an airport in Denver.

James Clear [00:06:27]:

Yeah, I remember that.

Justin [00:06:28]:

And at the time in my life, I was not doing so good. I was depressed. I think cynical, especially, I think cynical about people like you that seem to have it all together, that seem to be really life, doing all the good habits. And when you're not doing so good, looking at someone that seems to have it all together just can make you more grumpy or more cynical or more whatever. But I remember you sitting down and kind of hashing this out with me and that idea of Justin, no matter where you're at right now and no matter what you've done, you could start today with one action. So if you go running today, that might not make a big difference. But then if you do it tomorrow and then the next day and then the next day and then the next day, at the end of the week, you might say, well, wait a second, I think I'm a runner, right? And maybe after a couple of weeks you might say, well, you know, I'm going to get myself some runner clothes and go and get some runner clothes and then I'm going to get myself a good pair of shoes. I'm going to install that strava app. And all of a sudden you could see yourself. That was a really hopeful message for me when I was really struggling to figure out it was way easier for me to be cynical and just kind of look back at all these people implementing good, healthy processes and say, well, that's not for me. That's just for people. That whatever. But hearing that gave me hope to think I could do that, and it's surprising how little time it takes to accomplish that. Have other people been kind of referencing that too? Is that part of the and maybe that's what's so good about having it as chapter two, because it gives your some hope. Right.

James Clear [00:08:35]:

Well, what's interesting is that that process of changing in that way, it's happening anyway. If you think back to the beginning, for example, if I think of the early days of my entrepreneurial career, well, I didn't have any entrepreneurs in my family. I didn't have any close friends who are entrepreneurs. There was no reason for me to think that's who I am or to feel like I was externally validated with, like that was part of my identity. I had no evidence of it. And so early on, all I had was hope. Right? Like the hope that, oh, maybe I'll be able to build something, make I'll be able to make this work, but then you start to show up. And for me, it was probably about two years in is probably about where I kind of like the scale tipped, and I started to think, I am an entrepreneur. That's part of who I am. But it really took proving it to myself that I can pay my bills through this, that I can actually have a lifestyle and a career in this way. I had to prove it for about two years before I really started to latch onto it and say, this is who I am. Yeah, my point is that's always happening. You're continually updating your beliefs about yourself based on the experiences that you're going through. And all I'm talking about is simply designing that process in a little more careful or thoughtful way, rather than just kind of letting it happen to you and be like, well, I guess I'll figure out who I am. Based on what life throws at me versus how about I figure out who I am based on the votes that I cast each day and what habits I decide to follow.

Justin [00:10:08]:

Yeah. Again, that is a very hopeful message for someone who's just kind of sitting back and waiting for it to happen. What sustains you when you're in the process but not there yet? Like you mentioned, entrepreneur and your, like, man, it took a long time.

James Clear [00:10:30]:

It's a really good question because I think a lot of habits, entrepreneurship is certainly this way, exercise is this way, where the rewards of a habit are often very delayed. What's the reward for working out for, like, three weeks? Not really a whole lot. Honestly. Your body hasn't really changed. The scale is probably about the same. You're probably just sore. There probably isn't like, a whole lot to show for it. It's really not unless you stick with that habit for three months or six months or a year that you actually start to see the changes you were hoping to get when you set out. And so there's kind of this valley of death in the beginning where, in a way, it sort of life gets harder before it gets easier. It feels uncomfortable. You feel sore and pain. You feel uncertain. When you walk in the gym, you feel like people are judging you. Same way with starting a business. In a weird way, it's kind of harder before it gets easier. You start out, but you're not making any money. You feel stupid a lot of the time because you don't know how to make a sales call or what customers are looking for or whether you're even offering the right product. I remember when I first started, like I said, I didn't know anybody, didn't have any entrepreneurs in my family. So I was like, well, I need to get to know some people. So I sent a bunch of emails to reach out and just ask if people would chat on Skype for like 30 minutes or whatever. And I remember sending those first few and thinking, do people even do this? Do people chat on Skype with people that they haven't met before? Is this a weird thing to ask? There's just a lot of that uncertainty early on.

Justin [00:12:02]: