New year, new energy, new habits
Highlights from a call with James Clear
I have always felt that there is a a unique energy that is up for grabs at the beginning of a new year, and it is up to you how you catch and use it.
My year couldn’t have started off better. A good nights sleep; day in park with family; day off with husband; freebies from Barry’s for completing 50 fitness classes (!); published 8 books on KDP; connected with some amazing mums for my upcoming newsletters, AND a live call with James Clear — which is the focus of my newsletter today.
For those of you who are not familiar with him, James Clear is author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits — a book about how tiny habits can dramatically change your identity. The book has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. He also writes a weekly newsletter that is sent out to over 2 million people.
James Clear started off as a blogger about 10 years ago, with no particular goal in mind apart from the desire to be an entrepreneur so that he can manage his own time. Today, as a new dad, this is the most important thing for him, something we can all relate to as mums who want to work yet also have the freedom to manage our time. This is the point I feel I am at now.
I cannot believe I was on a call with James Clear with only about 40 other people, for 90 minutes for $15, all of which went to charity. This is one of the many benefits I am reaping from being part of carefully selected communities, something I focused on last year. My lead for this call was via Nesslabs, a learning community for those who want personal and professional development, whilst protecting their mental well-being.
Tony Robbins’ #1 way to see results in your life is through the “power of proximity”. In other words, you want to surround yourself with people who are playing at a higher level than you.
I started with this process last year, albeit via online communities, where I connected with some amazing individuals to learn from them and grow with their knowledge and vibes (eg Amy Porterfield, Daniel Vassallo, Niharika Sodhi, Josh Spector, Rachel Harrison-Sund, to name a few). These people may not be famous like celebrities, but they operate at a level that is inspiring to me and being in contact with them and in their communities, has raised my vibe too.
This year, I want to focus more on getting in the room with people I aspire to. Taking the effort to sign up for and attend a call with James Clear live was my first attempt at it. It was way past my bedtime too, 10–1130pm!
Despite his book’s extraordinary success, it was great to see how humble and down to earth James Clear is. He appears ordinary, is still figuring stuff out and not pretending that he has it all together. “Truth is, no matter how big someone is, everyone is trying to figure it out”, he said on the call.
The beginning of the year is the best time to talk about making change, a change usually has to do with changing the way you function, aka, your habits.
Here are some salient points from the call on habits with James Clear that stuck with me:
On reflection and your values
One of the key questions James Clear asks himself when he is in reflection mode is “what are my core values, and where am I not living up to them?” A tough yet important question to evaluate yourself against.
“If an alien came to earth to observe you, and couldn’t hear what you have to say, what would he see and think about you?” Is a related question he ponders, as your values are a sum of your actions.
“Truth is, you really don’t know what your values are until you have to choose between them”, he adds “you choose your values based on your present moment”.
An exercise he recommends to understand your ‘why’ behind something you do: “If you are working on something, be it a project, a goal or a habit, write down on a blank sheet every day for 2-weeks in a row “what are you really trying to accomplish?” You will be surprised with what you write and how this exercise can help you drill down on what you want to achieve.
Also, we can’t feel the same way about everything all the time. Motivations change periodically, much like seasons. “We forget that so many aspects of our life and how we feel are seasonal. It’s useful to ask yourself what season you are in when you are reflecting.” A small point, but can change the way you reflect on your year.
The core of Atomic Habits is how small habits have the power to alter your identity. They embody and reinforce your desired identity. So when you pick the habits you want, ask yourself “Who is it that you want to be? What habits will give you the identity you want?
Why is it so difficult to build a habit? As James Clear says in his book, this is because we take on a habit that is such a big change from what we are used to, that it’s almost impossible to stick to. “We let our motivations and desires drive us into a frenzy as we try to solve our entire problem at once instead of starting a small, new routine. The truth is this: the dreams that you have are very different from the actions that will get you there”
On the call, Clear added to that: “When you are trying to build a habit, think about what version of the habit you are genuinely excited about, and make that habit yours. Then you are much more likely to stick with it.”
And when you are trying to maintain a habit, your environment is as important: “What environment are you putting yourself in to ensure you can maintain your habits? Habits are closely tied to the groups we are in. “Find groups that facilitate your habits.” Similar to Tony Robbins concept of the power of proximity.
Although our habits are key to the kind of life we build, James Clear talked about the importance of not being so obsessed with our habits that we leave no room for spontaneity. “We cannot let our ideas take away the beauty of serendipity. Making space for creativity and spontaneity is as important.”
On new ideas
We consume so much information all day everyday, and often don’t give a second thought on how that information is impacting us. “Every idea you have is a downstream of something you consumed,” says Clear. “Make sure you are selective of your content diet. “What inputs do I need to generate the outputs that I want?”
Better inputs >> better thoughts >> better ideas.
On implementing new ideas, Clear talks about how we are the ones to talk ourselves out of an idea before the world does. “The world rarely will give you a hard stop on implementing an idea; don’t be your own road block”.
On how to pick an idea to work on: “Try things that come easily to you. Show up consistently and have a willingness to self-experiment. If you can provide anyone any value, your idea is likely to work out. Watch out for the signals of progress.”
On perspective and mindset when things get tough
The lockdowns got the better of all of us. On the call, James Clear reminded us of perspective and how reframing a situation in your mind can shift everything for the better. “What if you thought of it [lockdown] not as a prison, but a chrysalis. Go in and transform yourself.”
As a working mum, with a full plate at home and at work, I sometimes feel defeated with overwhelm and fatigue, which has an impact on motivation. Perspective and mindset really are key to move past overwhelm. Below is advice that James Clear got from his dad to reduce overwhelm, something he discussed on the call too.
On that note…I will leave you with this beautiful reminder below….
….and one question as posed by James Clear to us on the call:
“What is the most empowering version of your reality you can focus on?”
This year, I am going to work hard at reframing any negativity that might arise and channel it into gratitude and empowerment. I hope you can do the same.
Wishing you a great 2023. I am so happy to be a small part of it!
If you are a working mum and like what you have read, I write more like this on my Working Mums Club Substack, a newsletter for mums want to have better careers and be better mums. Sign up to be the first to get my newsletters straight to your inbox.