“True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.” - James Clear

How do we take all the motivation that is universally felt each January and make it stick for the long haul?

In his new book Atomic Habits, habits expert James Clear offers a compelling answer:

“Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.”

He explains with some examples:

“The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader. The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician.”

This really connected with me because it shows how a small shift in language can move us from a one-off goal (what we want to do) to a real, lasting intention (who we want to be).

More than wordplay, this practice is backed by science. James references a study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that a person who self-describes as a ‘voter’ is far more likely to vote than a person who just said ‘voting’ is something they want to do.

As a team, we were so impressed with the wisdom in this book that we reached out to ask James a few more questions and dedicated one of the sections in this month’s Intention Guide to sharing more of it with our members.

To who we are and what we are becoming,

Mike Radparvar
Co-Founder, Holstee

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Intention.

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Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.

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