The Beyond Patients Blog


The Identity-Habit Cycle

Apr 15, 2023

"Your identity shapes your habits, and your habits shape your identity"
-James Clear

James Clear wrote Atomic Habits, one of the best books ever produced on understanding habits and how they affect our life and our future. What's interesting is how our mental habits, and as a result, our physical actions affect our ability to expand our life and identity.  For example, one might have an internal dialogue stating "I'm a smoker". So, obviously the resulting actions confirm to the individual that they are in fact a smoker because they picked up another pack and smoked. The identity/habit cycle becomes rooted deeper and deeper through repetition.  

What happens if that mental habit changes? While it's certainly not appropriate to minimize challenges with quitting smoking, we've all heard of those individuals who simply decide one day that they're done smoking. How did they do that? Knowingly or unknowingly, they flipped the narrative in their mind. That person instead changed their internal dialogue to "I'm a non-smoker". The resulting habits completely changed! Sure there are challenges, days you fall off the wagon, etc but changing the mental narrative changes daily habits. Instead of driving the same route to pick up daily smokes, that person suddenly expands their vision to take a different route. They do different things socially, they start to feel the positive feedback loop of feeling more health and vibrant. They are changing their identity through changing their mental and physical habits. They are taking small daily, maybe even hourly, habits and stacking them which creates a new reality for this individual.

This is a simple illustration that you can put around any identity/habit cycle in life. When working with our successful client Doctors, we find many of them stuck in this reality. Their mother/father/teacher/preacher has told them, "You're a Doctor, you have a great life, you help so many people, etc. Why would you want to do anything else"? Essentially the world around them tries to keep them in their lane. Yet, it's staying in that lane that has led to their "state of stuck" and they don't know what to do about it. Our Docs' internal dialogue sounds like, "I've invested incredible time/energy/money to become a successful Doctor. That's all I know! I want to add something else but I only know how to be a Doctor".

As it turns out, we're all MUCH more qualified to expand our pursuits than we give ourselves credit for. As I discuss in the Transferrable Skills post, we have everything we need to move into that next pursuit. We simply have to change our identity/habit narrative. Essentially, we need to begin to move from "I'm a Chiropractor" to "I'm a Chiropractic Entrepreneur". This change of mindset creates new and different actions that stack to create a new reality. As we build new habits around how we use our time, how we use our money and how we invest our energy, those little daily habits stack up every day to create new opportunities as a Chiropractic Entrepreneur!


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