I agree with James Clear that “Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities.” I disagree with his application, which is, “Choose the habits that best suit you.” As he puts it:
“One of the best ways to ensure your habits remain satisfying over the long-run is to pick behaviors that align with your personality and skills. Work hard on the things that come easy.”
I disagree because God often requires us to eliminate sinful habits that are extremely easy for us, and to cultivate habits that are extremely difficult for us. By God’s grace, that can be extremely satisfying.
However, while Clear’s advice is bad for sanctification, it can be good for choosing our vocation. I’m sure we’ve all heard Dave Ramsey and others respond to people’s questions about their callings with the advice, “Follow your passion….Find your passion and develop it.”
I’d therefore like to take Clear’s words about habits and apply them to finding your vocation. To find your passion, ask yourself these questions:
What feels like fun to me, but work to others?
The mark of whether you are made for a task is not whether you love it but whether you can handle the pain of the task easier than most people. When are you enjoying yourself while other people are complaining? The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you were made to do.
What makes me lose track of time?
Flow is the mental state you enter when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away. This blend of happiness and peak performance is what athletes and performers experience when they are “in the zone.” It is nearly impossible to experience a flow state and not find the task satisfying at least to some degree.
Where do I get greater returns than the average person?
We are continually comparing ourselves to those around us, and a behavior is more likely to be satisfying when the comparison is in our favor. When I started writing at jamesclear.com, my email list grew very quickly. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing well, but I knew that results seemed to be coming faster for me than for some of my colleagues, which motivated me to keep writing.
What comes naturally to me?
For just a moment, ignore what you have been taught. Ignore what society has told you. Ignore what others expect of you. Look inside yourself and ask, “What feels natural to me? When have I felt alive? When have I felt like the real me?” No internal judgments or people-pleasing. No second-guessing or self-criticism. Just feelings of engagement and enjoyment. Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction. Our genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on. Once we realize our strengths, we know where to spend our time and energy.
Of course, we must also allow for the possibility that God’s calling may not be aligned with our passion, in which case we must follow God not our heart. However, if God has given us gifts and passion in one direction, we must seriously ask if that’s what God is calling us to.
See more Atomic Habits posts here.