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  • Writer's pictureArchuleta A. Chisolm

You Are What You Repeat

Growing up, my Nana had a saying for everything. When I was in a bad mood she would say, “When you smile the whole world smiles with you.” If someone mentioned how cute I was, she would say, “Pretty is as pretty does.”

I’m currently listening to my first audio book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, thanks to a friend. In the first chapter, he says something very powerful: “You get what you repeat.” In other words, you become what you repeatedly do. If you go for a 3-mile run, you are not a runner. But if you train, create time in your day to run, make a habit of running…then you are a runner.

Many of our habits serve us well. Brushing our teeth, holding the door open for others, saying please and thank you. Most of our actions fall into the repetitive category. Most of our actions cannot be performed just one time, but day after day, again and again. We brush our teeth, we exercise, we meditate, we write, we create, we shop, we work, we cook, we clean, we eat, we shower, we sleep, we wake up and repeat.

Every day we repeat our actions, habits, and rituals. It’s a game of repetition. Yes, there are milestones, achieved goals, successes, and we should definitely stop and celebrate small victories. But never expect to be done, because you are not. Get back on track and continue.

James Clear says to forget about goals and focus on systems. This makes such sense to me! I thought about how I am always focused on the goal itself but don’t spend enough time on the steps to get there – which matter more. Those systems turn into habits for life.

If we understand that the journey, the process, and the practice are the only things that are real, we can detach from the outcome. We can try new things we are not good at. We can even start enjoying the process of repetitions We will remember that each day is an opportunity to keep moving. We will keep showing up.

We are obsessed with the bottom line, the goals, the magic solutions, with our to-do lists. We want to be done. But the most actions in life require repetition. We have to wake up, get ready, show up, do the thing, rinse and repeat. We are never done. We have the right to our labor but not to the fruit of our labor. When it’s all said and done, we cannot control outcomes.

Most important in all this, we will become stronger, wiser, more mindful, more compassionate, and more skillful than before. Gradually, we will become or best selves.


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