Is there a trick to writing marketing emails that get the click? Actually, there are 20 tricks, and here they are…
Use a great subject line:
Be specific and useful. Rather than saying, “You’re going to love this,” use “How to get a 27% increase in stamina.”
Identify yourself consistently. Don’t call yourself Bob Jones in one email, Robert Jones in a second email and Jones Consulting in a third. Pick a name and stick with it so recipients recognize you.
Use words such as ‘sale,’ ‘new,’ ‘alert,’ ‘news bulletin,’ ‘daily,’ ‘weekly’ and ‘free.’
Ask a question. “Are you ready for this Tuesday?” or “Do you know how to increase subscribers by 42% with one tweak?”
Test your subject lines, then reuse what works and discard what doesn’t.
Don’t use the same or similar subject line twice in a row. Ever.
Use timely topics when possible.
Use [but don’t over use] urgency.
Use all caps to emphasize one or two important words.
Use brackets to create a second attention-getter, like this: 12 killer traffic methods [And the 5 WORST]
Optimize the body content:
Use SHORT paragraphs, just one or two sentences each. Make it super easy to read.
Use photos that sell your message.
Be clear about what your offer is and how it impacts and benefits the reader.
Use a strong call to action.
Give the name and location of your company – look REAL, not fly by night.
Focus on only ONE action you want your reader to take.
Make your email as long as it needs to be and no longer.
Use urgency but don’t overdo it. Use action words and action phrases. Don’t use passive language. Make it personal. “Grab your copy”, not “Get a copy.”
Make your button big enough. Remember, the majority of subscribers will be reading your email on a phone or tablet, so make your button big enough for a human finger to easily tap.
Make your call to action and button visually distinctive and inviting.
Lastly, remember to make your emails mobile-friendly. Picture size needs to be reduced for fast loading times. You can use a service such as Photo Resizer to reduce the file size without losing the image quality.
And define image size by proportion if your email editor doesn’t do this automatically, so the images look good on any sized screen. To do this, set the max-width to the proportion of the screen you want it to take up, and set the height to “auto” to automatically adjust based upon the width.
One final thing: Put some personality into it. No one responds positively to being bored, and blending with the crowd won’t get you sales. Instead of being a business robot, be yourself and have fun with your subscribers.
Seriously, have you ever received an affiliate commission before the product was even created? Of course not. A frequent objection I hear from affiliate marketers is they don’t want to create their own products because they will have to wait until after the product is created to get paid. BUT, what if you could get paid before you create the product?
Here’s how you do it: Offer to let your customers watch over your shoulder as you do what you’re going to teach. In other words, do a live case study so they can see step by step what happens.
Let’s say you were going to make a product on how to sell t-shirts. You would let them see the process from start to finish, watching everything you do. You then take these recordings and sell them as your finished product, too. So you get paid in advance by people who want to see you do this as you do it, and then you have an asset you can sell over and over again.
Pick something you want to learn that others want to learn, too. Spend a week or two learning the basics, and then do it. Whatever it is, just do it. Then report on your results as you go. That is, document each day what you do and the results you get.
How to Promote Your Product to Buyers
There’s likely no need to make a humongous promise, like earning a million bucks in 22 days. Who’s going to believe it anyway? Instead, promise that you’re going to show them how to do the thing that you’re teaching. You’ll use video, screenshots, writing, etc., to show them what to do in each step and how to do it, and what to do if this happens or that happens. And when you make a mistake, add that in as well, since it shows them what not to do.
You’ll begin with the very first step, whether it’s research, finding an outsourcer or whatever, and do it in chronological order. It’s easy for you to do this way, and it’s easy for your customers to follow, too.
In your marketing, you’ll tell them why they should care about what you’re teaching – for example, that it’s an easy market to break into, extremely hot and so forth. You’ll also tell them what expertise you already have that you’ll be applying to this training if any.
Then you’ll tell them exactly what they’ll learn, step by step, and what they’ll get out of it. It might be as simple as they’ll have their first product sold.
This is how you market the product before you’ve even made it. After you make it, then you’ll know your exact results. Maybe you sold 82 units in 21 days. That can become part of your promise, that you’ll show them how you did it, and maybe by copying you, they can do it, too.
But What if My Product Doesn’t Sell?
Hey, it happens. You spend hours, days or weeks creating a product and only sell a few copies. Guess what? That’s okay, for two reasons. First, you now have more experience creating products. Second, and this is the big reason – you can re-purpose the content. Maybe it didn’t sell as a $27 product, but can you turn it into a Kindle book and sell a few copies a day? “But I’ll only make $5-$10 bucks a day on Kindle.” Yeah, multiply that by 365 days and tell me if it’s worth it.
You can re-purpose it into list building material, email autoresponder series and so forth. You can rename it and re-market it because odds are you didn’t do a very good job the first time because you’re still learning. You can use it as a free bonus to sell more of your next product. You can repackage it – if it’s audio, add a video. If it’s video, add a pdf. You can sell rights to it. You can sell an entire website and sales funnel based around it, and so forth.
You now have an asset. And even if it didn’t sell very well in its first incarnation, there are plenty of things you can do to still make money from it.
The Big Why of Creating Your Own Products
Do you know why you should create your own products, above and beyond what we already talked about? Because when you create products, you are exchanging a few hours of your time for an asset that can pay you for months and years to come. Creating and selling your own products will allow you to travel the world if you choose, enjoy more financial security than 95% of the population of the U.S., and live the life you want. And if that isn’t reason enough to create your own products, I don’t know what is.
Tarot cards are among the most popular divination tools around the world. These magical tools have drawn the attention of many people centuries.
The history of Tarot cards dates back to between the late 14th century and early 15th century. They were first used in Northern Italy, and the oldest set in existence is called Visconti-Sforza deck, which was created around 1140 by Duke from Milan’s family.
These cards were attractive with fancy images, including some figures with costumed similar to those used in carnival parades in the Fool to Death. Mostly, the cards were part of tarocchi, a bridge-like card game. This game was mainly for the noble or other people who had time for leisure.
Development of Tarot Cards In 1400s- French and Italian
The first carrots that looked like what is used today were in the 1400s. They were the creation of European artists who came up with the tarot cards featuring four types of suits. The suits were similar to the current cards; they included discs or coins, swords, cups, and staves or wands. However, a few decades later, Italian artists started creating more cards.
The cards were referred to as triumph or trump cards and were made for affluent families. The wealthy people would pay the artist to make a unique set of cards with their family members or friends featuring in the triumph cards. Some of the sets still available were for a Milan family whose name was Visconti. It includes a few barons and dukes among its many members.
Not everyone could afford the luxury of having an artist create such cards. So, when the printed cards came into existence, people were happy to buy them and play the card game.
Tarot as a Divination Tool
While the original purpose of tarot cards was just parlor games, they later became divination tools. This happened in the 16th century, but it wasn’t as strong as they are today. Each was assigned a particular meaning by the 18th century.
It was in 178, when Antoine Court de Gebelin, a French, former prime minister who was a freemason, wrote an extensive analysis on Tarot cards. In his book, he revealed how Tarot symbolism originated from Egyptian priests’ esoteric secrets. Furthermore, he explained how the occult knowledge was taken to Rome and shown to the Catholic Church, especially the popes. But the church chose to make it a well-guarded secret.
However, this writer’s work has no historical evidence to support his claims, and his information did not stop people from playing the game, and some even believed his story.
Jean-Baptiste Alliete wrote about tarot cards as divination cards in 1791. This French occultist also releases a Tarot deck for divinatory purposes, and it was the first of its kind. Initially, he had actually written a book as a response to Antoine Court’s content on divination.
It was the popularity of Tarot cards in the occult that led to Kabbalah. Spiritualism and occultism became popular during the Victorian era. The upper class was the majority of the people with easy access to Kabbalah. The rich would hold parties and then include séance or some to read palms and some tea leaves placed somewhere in a corner.
The Rider-Waite History
Arthur Waite was a British occult, who was also in the Order of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley groups. Together with one artist known as Pamela Colman Smith, who is also part of the Golden Dawn, they made the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. These cards were published in 1909 for the first time.
The Sola Busca artwork largely inspired the tarot cards. But they remained the first cards to use characters to represent images in the lower cards. They replaced the wands, coins, swords, or cups that were commonly used in the cards at the time. Smith used human figures.
In most Tarot books, the default deck is kabbalistic. It is also called the Waite-Smith deck because she created them, and the artwork withstood the test of time. It has been more than 100 years since the Rider-Waiter deck was created.
While it is possible to find tarot cards in various designs today, they all follow the Rider-Waiter style, but they adapt differently to suit their specific motifs. The best thing is that they are not only for the wealthy and high-end class, but anyone can buy tarot cards anytime they wish to.
How Do Tarot Cards in Divinations Work
Today, people are curious about tarot cards just because they have heard that they can predict the future. However, it is more than that. These cards say more than what you can see in the image representation. The cards allow users to get an insight into their lives and things around them. They represent the journey some make and decisions that have to be made while living on earth.
Tarot cards are seen as robust divination tools. People are always seeking answers and information through them. But they must be interpreted by someone who knows art if reading the cards accurately.
The person looking for divination shakes the card deck to start the reading and then places them down and picks one card. The card should be facing down, and as the person is selecting one, the card reader turns them up and spreads the cards in a particular way. The reader uses various patterns to ensure you get the best read. Frequent readings include love and money.
The meaning every card is deep and not obvious. Some dread the Death card, but it does not always mean physical death. Sometimes it refers to the end of problems, and actually, it’s rarely associated with pain.
Tarot cards have a rich history and are special to the users. It’s not the pictures that give answers; they have unusual combinations that only talented card readers can interpret.
The Bottom Line
Tarot card reading is all about predictions based on divinations. However, if you want to have successful and accurate readings check out Tarot Prophet for tarot card reading online for the reason that you need to look for an experienced reader. There are so many myths and misconceptions about tarot card cards. However, when done in the right way, tarot cards can work for you.
Are you one of those marketers who only wants to promote affiliate products? If you are, you’re not alone. Affiliate products are great – you don’t have to create the product and you don’t have customer service problems. Heck, you can make a fortune promoting affiliate products, and I highly recommend that if your heart is set on affiliate marketing, that you pursue it without hesitation.
That said, if you are ONLY doing affiliate marketing, you are putting yourself and your income at the mercy of other people, other businesses and other entities that you have NO control over.
Plus, it’s not always a bag of laughs, either. You want to promote that cookware set on Amazon because it’s got great commissions? Cool. So go set up a website, get some lousy articles written by someone whose first language isn’t the one you need, buy a few thousand spam links and so forth to get this site ‘ready.’ Then find a way to send the traffic, and then do it all again with the next product.
Great fun, right? I’ll bet you don’t even care about that cookware set or the people who might buy it. But you should care that the seller can stop selling it at ANY time without notice. Or they can change the commission structure. Or they can do whatever they like.
Are you getting your traffic from Google? Then you already know how fast Google can pull the rug out from under you. Maybe you’re buying traffic from Facebook? Facebook has already banned countless businesses and untold numbers of marketers, and they will be banning more – without notice.
How do you like affiliate marketing so far? Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way. If you choose a great niche and focus just on that niche and build up your readers and your traffic and especially your lists, you can make a ton of money in affiliate marketing.
But you know what? You can make even MORE money by creating your products, and it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think.
Plus, creating your own products has great perks:
First, when you make a sale, you get to keep ALL of the sale.
Second, you can get your own affiliates to promote for you. Just think how much more you can sell with a hundred affiliates promoting your products, than if it’s only you promoting. The difference is beyond huge, it’s almost mind-boggling.
Third, if you’re a good affiliate marketer, you’re building lists anyway. Why not sell your own products to those lists, in addition to selling affiliate products?
Fourth, when you have your own products, you can earn money for months and years of work that you did ONCE. It’s like being a songwriter and earning money every time the song is played for the next 20 years, only instead of a song it’s an info product.
Now, I know your next objection: “But I don’t know anything that people want to buy.”
And let me tell you, this isn’t a good objection for two reasons.
#1, YES you do. If you’ve been alive for more than, say, 15 years, then you know stuff that other people DON’T know but they WANT to know. Have you found a way to treat your own illness? Have you lost 20 pounds? Have you traveled somewhere? Do you know how to save major money on something? Do you have the secret to seducing lovers?
Think of it this way – what do you know? Make a list. Write that stuff down, and keep writing over the next few days because you will realize you know a lot more than you thought. Do this and you’ll likely have three sheets of paper filled with things you know that others want to know.
#2: Let’s say that you do the exercise in #1 above, and you come up with nothing. NOTHING. You are the only person on the planet who doesn’t know ANYTHING that anyone else wants to know.
That’s okay, and here’s why: All you have to do is pick your topic, learn it, do it and teach it. That’s it. Learn it, do it and teach it. You don’t have to become an expert. Just learn enough to get started DOING it, whatever it is. Make notes of what works and the results you get, and guess what happens?? You have yourself an info product. YES, it really can be that easy.“But wait! If I have to learn it, and then do it before I can teach it, that will take time and I need to earn money NOW!”
True. So here’s a shortcut: Choose your niche, go find an expert and use THEIR knowledge to create your product. Then cut them in on the deal. You get a percentage, they get a percentage.
“But then I’ll have to share the profits – wouldn’t it be better to just promote affiliate products?”
True, you’re sharing the profits with the expert, but remember – you can then get affiliates to promote for you, something you cannot do when you are an affiliate yourself.
So even if you give the expert 25% and you keep 25% so that affiliates earn 50%, that’s 25% that you continue to earn for as long as the product is selling.
One more thing before I forget – when you sell your own products, you are building lists of BUYERS. And as you know, one buyer can easily be worth 10-50 people who are just looking for freebies.
So when you have your own products, whether you create them alone or with partners, you are building lists of buyers that your affiliates send to you. And this alone is HUGE. So much so, that even if you gave away ALL of your commissions upfront, it would still be highly profitable because of all the backend products you could sell to your new buyers.
Sometimes the answers are right under your nose. For example – what makes one person fail while another succeeds? The answer is often small differences that seem ordinary and mundane, yet are magic at creating consistent and long-term success.
1. Know their purpose. If you’re working towards your true purpose, it’s no longer work, but passion. Find your passion and you are halfway to achieving success.
2. Read stuff. No, we’re not talking about surfing the web here. Instead, find the information that will help you in your quest to get ahead and then read it.
3. Question almost to the point of being annoying. Question to clarify and to improve your comprehension. Question to find new methods, new techniques and new ways of doing things. Just because something has “always been done this way” doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.
4. Ask for help. Going it alone is the macho Lone Ranger way, but even he had Tonto to help him out. Need help? Then for crying out loud, ask.
5. Have a big circle of friends. It’s hard to ask for help if you don’t have people to go to. Build a vast network of friends and associates, both in and out of your niche and Internet marketing.
6. Outsource. Whether this means hiring people locally or on the other side of the world, get others to perform tasks you’re not good at. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time to achieve mediocre results.
7. Don’t look back – much. If you wallow in the past then you’re stuck in the past. Look back only to find lessons on what works and what doesn’t.
8. Plan. What’s your vision? What are the goals you need to meet to reach that vision? And how will you achieve each of those goals? Write it down and refer back to it often.
9. Are flexible. Things change. You might find an easier way to achieve one of your goals, or you might learn that your original plan has major flaws. Don’t be bull-headed. Be flexible. Water can get past anything precisely because it is so flexible.
10. Prioritize. We tend to do things in order of time or ease. For example, you’re more likely to tackle the 30-minute task rather than the 2-hour task or do the easy thing before the difficult endeavor. But once you prioritize and do the most important thing first, you’ll find that success naturally follows.
11. Are persistent. You didn’t reach your goal in a day or a week? They said no? Things aren’t turning out as you thought they would? So long as you don’t quit, you cannot fail. Even blind squirrels find acorns when they persist.
12. Know that failure is just a stepping stone to success. This is directly tied to #11. Just because you fail does not give you a reason to quit. Give yourself one hour for a pity party, then analyze WHY you failed and move on. Remember all the failures that went into inventing the light bulb – Edison didn’t stop until he found the right way because he knew that every failure got him that much closer to his goal.
13. Get outside of their comfort zone. You’ve never done it before? You’re nervous? You’re shy? You’ve got butterflies in your stomach and you feel like you’re going to throw up? Congratulations! You’re about to do something that is going to stretch your abilities and get you one step closer to realizing your dream, so thumb your nose at fear and just do it anyway.
14. Aren’t Scrooges. Whether it’s sharing credit, sharing your techniques for success or the fruits of your labors, share with others. It will come back to you 10 fold in the future.
15. Recharge. All work and no play makes Jack or Jill a dull burnt out person. Take time to rest, get enough sleep, and spend one day a week doing something totally unrelated to your work – you’ll come back feeling refreshed and with new energy.
Science tells us there is indeed a difference! And it may have nothing to do with which species we share our space with.
To learn more, Sam Gosling, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted a study of 4,500 participants. Each one self-identified as either a dog person or a cat person. Here is what Gosling discovered:
Dog people tend to be more outgoing and social.
Cat people score better in creativity and openness.
Dog people show up as more extraverted and conscientious.
Cat people rank higher on independence and intelligence.
There’s more to the dog person/cat person discussion than native personality traits though.
After all, we may perceive dog people as outgoing only because they congregate at dog parks. As for us cat people, was there ever any misgiving about our striking intelligence and sparkling creativity?
But how do people decide to identify as cat people or as dog people in the first place?
Dr. John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist at the University of Bristol, has an answer. He says many people who identify as dog people believe themselves to be masculine and decisive, qualities we assign to dogs. Cat people, on the other hand, view themselves as feminine and independent, attributes associated with cats.
In other words, we identify our perceived selves with the idealized version of a dog or a cat.
Column Five Media gives further details in a helpful infograph, which tells us that:
26% of people have dogs, 16% enjoy life with cats, and 13% are brave souls who keep both—what Jackson Galaxy calls being bipetual.
Dog people are more likely to be conservative men who have kids and own a home in the country.
Cat people skew toward being liberal women with graduate degrees who rent a pad in the city.
Cat lovers tend to be introverts who prefer individual competition over team sports. Dog lovers like outdoor activities and enjoy being the life of the party.
All that information suggests that having a dog or cat and being a dog or cat person could be related. But in fact, a city-dwelling dog lover may choose to keep a cat because it’s a lower maintenance animal. And a cat lover who lives alone may opt for a dog’s companionship because of dogs’ protective nature.
Dogs have earned their reputation as outgoing types by looking fetching on the end of a leash and slobbering on an extended hand. It’s cats, however, who rule cyberspace. Cat-related searches are among the most popular on the internet, and social media sites like Instagram fill up with cute cat pics. Feline internet celebrities like Grumpy Cat, Li’l Bub, and Cole & Marmalade draw millions of fans. But who knows of a dog who’s an internet celebrity? Then again, introverts have ruled the web since its inception, and there’s no sign that we’re abdicating the internet throne.
Maybe what we perceive as “outgoing” or “introverted” is situational rather than static. Personality differences, like the ongoing feud over dogs and cats as pets, can even tickle our funny bone, like this genius diary of a dog and a cat. And they add spice to life.
A peek into lists of dog-and- cat- lovers aren’t instantly revealing about dog people/cat people differences, either. Famous dog people have included Sir Isaac Newton, Ivan Pavlov, and Barbara Bush. Celebrity cat lovers count among them Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, and (ironically) Snoop Dog.
So what can we make of all that?
There’s something to be said about the science and psychology of being a dog person or a cat person. And it was Ann Taylor who said it. “Dogs eat. Cats dine.”
What about you? Are you a dog person, a cat person, or abipetualist? If you don’t know, take this Buzzfeed quiz and find out.
We talk all the time about having a great headline to draw your visitors into reading your blog posts. After all, while 80% of people will read the headline, only 20% of those will begin reading the post itself.
But what about writing effective headlines that not only get your posts read but get them shared, too? While a good headline will get your article read, the RIGHT headline will increase shares through social media. That’s why I’ve compiled 5 of the very best tips for writing the kind of headlines your readers can’t help but share.
Make your headline extremely easy to read and understand. Sure, your die-hard fans know you and know what you write about, so you can be clever with them and they’ll still understand. But if you’re writing cryptic headlines that only they can decipher, they’re not likely sharing it with others. And even if they do share, their fans and followers aren’t likely to click something that isn’t perfectly clear.
If your headline is, “27 Ways to Stitch Time on Blog Posts” most people will be clueless about what you’re saying and they won’t click the link. And you regular readers probably won’t even share the link in the first place. But if you write, “27 Ways to Save Time Writing Blog Posts,” then it becomes very clear what your post can do for them.
Make your headline irresistible. Remember, the whole purpose of a headline is to entice the visitor into reading, or in this case, to compel the person on social media to click the link and go to your post.
So how do you make headlines irresistible? One way is to offer massive value to the reader. “How to save $200 on your heating bill with a 5 min phone call.” Of course, the value doesn’t have to be monetary. “3 ways to know if your marriage is in trouble and 7 ways to save it.” That’s offering huge value.
Another irresistible method is to share insider knowledge, secrets or the latest gossip. People love to get the lowdown. “This movie star’s secrets to a bodacious bottom.”
Then there’s the common enemy theme. “How corporate greed will make your children into slaves.” Ouch.
Ask a question, such as, “Do you know how to buy a house for nothing down?” or “Do you know how to look 5 years younger and 10 pounds lighter in 3 seconds?” By the way, the answer to that second question is to stand up straight and tall instead of slouching.
Use curiosity when appropriate. If your article is all about how a peanut butter sandwich inspired you to earn $10,000 in a weekend, then use that in your headline, but only if it’s true. Don’t use curiosity as a bait and switch – you’ll just annoy your new visitors.
Make your headline short(er). Remember, Tweets are limited to 280 characters. That includes the title, shortened URL, hashtags and so forth. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for your title, so make every word count.
Be the person readers want to share with others. If your integrity is questionable, if it’s unclear who you are, if there is any ambiguity or negativity associated with your name and persona, readers will hesitate to share you with others.
This doesn’t mean you can’t hold controversial opinions, though. In fact, being somewhat controversial is perhaps the best way of all to get your readers to share your posts with their followers.
Just a little strategy can go a long way towards getting your readers to share your posts, thus increasing your traffic. Be sure you have a system in place to capture the email addresses of your new visitors, too, along with links to your main social media counts. Once you get these new readers, you don’t want to lose them.
This article is an excerpt from Atomic Habits, my New York Times bestselling book.
In one of my very first articles, I discussed a concept called identity-based habits.
The basic idea is that the beliefs you have about yourself can drive your long-term behavior. Maybe you can trick yourself into going to the gym or eating healthy once or twice, but if you don’t shift your underlying identity, then it’s hard to stick with long-term changes.
Most people start by focusing on outcome-based goals like “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to write a best-selling book.”
But these are surface-level changes.
The root of behavior change and building better habits is your identity. Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.
This brings us to an important question: How, exactly, is your identity formed? And how can you emphasize new aspects of your identity that serve you and gradually erase the pieces that hinder you?
How to Change Your Beliefs
Your identity emerges out of your habits. You are not born with preset beliefs. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience.
More precisely, your habits are how you embody your identity. When you make your bed each day, you embody the identity of an organized person. When you write each day, you embody the identity of a creative person. When you train each day, you embody the identity of an athletic person.
The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior. In fact, the word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and, identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your “repeated beingness.”
Whatever your identity is right now, you only believe it because you have proof of it. If you go to church every Sunday for twenty years, you have evidence that you are religious. If you study biology for one hour every night, you have evidence that you are studious. If you go to the gym even when it’s snowing, you have evidence that you are committed to fitness. The more evidence you have for a belief, the more strongly you will believe it.
For most of my early life, I didn’t consider myself a writer. If you were to ask any of my high school teachers or college professors, they would tell you I was an average writer at best: certainly not a standout. When I began my writing career, I published a new article every Monday and Thursday for the first few years. As the evidence grew, so did my identity as a writer. I didn’t start out as a writer. I became a one through my habits.
Of course, your habits are not the only actions that influence your identity, but by virtue of their frequency, they are usually the most important ones. Each experience in life modifies your self-image, but it’s unlikely you would consider yourself a soccer player because you kicked a ball once or an artist because you scribbled a picture. As you repeat these actions, however, the evidence accumulates and your self-image begins to change. The effect of one-off experiences tends to fade away while effect of habits gets reinforced with time, which means your habits contribute most of the evidence that shapes your identity. In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.
This is a gradual evolution. We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. If you finish a book, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes reading. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes exercise. If you practice playing the guitar, perhaps you are the type of person who likes music. Each habit is like a suggestion: “Hey, maybe this is who I am.”
No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it actually is big. That’s the paradox of making small improvements.
Putting this all together, you can see that habits are the path to changing your identity. The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
Each time you write a page, you are a writer.
Each time you practice the violin, you are a musician.
Each time you start a workout, you are an athlete.
Each time you encourage your employees, you are a leader.
Each habit not only gets results but also teaches you something far more important: to trust yourself. You start to believe you can actually accomplish these things. When the votes mount up and the evidence begins to change, the story you tell yourself begins to change as well.
Of course, it works the opposite way, too. Every time you choose to perform a bad habit, it’s a vote for that identity. The good news is that you don’t need to be perfect. In any election, there are going to be votes for both sides. You don’t need a unanimous vote to win an election; you just need a majority. It doesn’t matter if you cast a few votes for a bad behavior or an unproductive habit. Your goal is simply to win the majority of the time.
This is why I advocate starting with incredibly small actions (small votes still count!) and building consistency. Use the 2-Minute Rule to get started. Follow the Seinfeld Strategy to maintain consistency. Each action becomes a small vote that tells your mind, “Hey, I believe this about myself.” And at some point, you actually will believe it.
New identities require new evidence. If you keep casting the same votes you’ve always cast, you’re going to get the same results you’ve always had. If nothing changes, nothing is going to change.
This article is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my New York Times bestselling book Atomic Habits. Read more here. FOOTNOTES
Certainly, there are some aspects of your identity that tend to remain unchanged over time—like identifying as someone who is tall or short. But even for more fixed qualities and characteristics, whether you view them in a positive or negative light is determined by your experiences throughout life.
Technically, identidem is a word belonging to the Late Latin language. Also, thanks to Tamar Shippony, a reader of jamesclear.com, who originally told me about the etymology of the word identity, which she looked up in the American Heritage Dictionary.
This is another reason atomic habits are such an effective form of change. If you change your identity too quickly and become someone radically different overnight, then you feel as if you lose your sense of self. But if you update and expand your identity gradually, you will find yourself reborn into someone totally new and yet still familiar. Slowly—habit by habit, vote by vote—you become accustomed to your new identity. Atomic habits and gradual change are the keys to identity change without identity loss.
Whatever it is that you want to do – just begin. Don’t think about doing the whole thing, because you don’t have to do the whole thing… You only need to take the first step.
Most people don’t start because they’re thinking about the whole thing. It’s too big. There are too many obstacles. They don’t know how they’ll do it all.
The thought of the whole project is overwhelming and paralyzing. It’s easier to put it off…
“I’ll start it later when I have time. When I finish this and that. When the kids are gone. When I’m retired. When life isn’t so hectic.”
Life is always hectic. It’s busy. It’s a whirlwind. But we decide what we do with each moment. So just start. Just begin.
You want to exercise but you don’t have time? Just do 10 minutes a day, every day. Just start. Don’t worry about running marathons, just do 10 minutes today. Then tomorrow, do 10 minutes more.
Do you want to write a book? No one can write an entire book. But anyone can start. Just write for 10 minutes, that’s all. Easy, right? Look at the clock. An hour has passed and you’re still writing.
Challenge is good. Little challenges. Lots of them. Just begin. Don’t climb Everest, climb the jungle gym. You can do that. Tomorrow climb the hill behind your house. Lots of little challenges add up.
Do you want to learn to play the piano? Just begin. Imagine if you had started when you were a kid and played 10 minutes every day. By now you would impress almost anyone. Now imagine you start today – in 5 years, who knows? You might be entertaining your family and friends during the holidays, but not if you don’t begin.
You want to start a business. Ooooh, scary. So many things you’ll have to learn. Better to wait, right? No. Just begin. Just start.
Everything conspires to keep you from beginning. But there is power and magic in taking that first step, because it’s the first step that leads to the second, and the second to the third.
If you never begin, you will have only regret. By starting, you can create your own future.