Atomic Habits is my favorite book of 2019 thus far. James Clear does an incredible job of taking a topic that has been written about and breathing new life into it.
Nearly all of the core concepts in this book are in Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit. But Atomic Habits does more than just explain the psychology of habit formation but the actionable steps you can take to transform your habits.
Atomic habits starts off by suggesting that a 1% improvement in your habits each day will have exponential returns the longer you stick with them (pg. 16). Easier said than done right? The rest of the book talks about designing your environment, making habits satisfying, and setting yourself up for success when it comes to habits.
I really enjoyed James Clear’s approach to habits because his examples are so simple you can literally try them out after reading it. For example, he had a habit of buying fruit, keeping it in the fridge and it spoiling. Instead, he would set an apple on his counter each day to see if he would walk by and eat it. I tried this. You better believe I ate all the apples.
I have a bad habit of getting on my phone when in front of my computer. I moved my phone across my office so I would have to get up and get it. Now there is extra work involved and I find myself less likely to get up and get it (can’t believe I am that lazy).
Before I started reading this book I started tracking my daily habits. I was thrilled to see a chapter in this book dedicated to tracking and optimizing habits. If you want to learn how you can improve you first need to document what you are doing.
Another amazing strategy discussed in Atomic Habits is habit stacking. I really like this one because it tricks you into following through. You can read more about habit stacking in chapter 5. Habit stacking is when you tell yourself that one habit will lead to another. For example, during commercials of my hour-long TV show, I will drop and do 25 push ups. By the end of the show, I have my 100 push-ups done. Another example could be as soon as I wake up I will make my bed. As soon as my bed is made I will drink a cup of water. You just get in the habit of doing one habit after the other. The more you stack, the better you can stick with a new habit.
Towards the end of the book, the author talks about what differentiates someone who sticks with a habit versus those who don’t. Essentially it comes down to who is willing to do the work when it’s boring and unfulfilling. Some of the most successful people are only successful because they stuck with the boring habits that yielded little results. But only after consistently following through did they hit momentum and see a big reward for their effort.
I strongly recommend everyone read this book. Even if you think you have good habits you can still learn a lot from this book.
I got a ton from this book. I will just make a condensed list here.
- Don’t focus on goals but rather on the systems and processes to get to your goal
- Winners and losers have the same goals, the habits they have are what differentiate them
- Focus on identity-based habits – every time you complete a good habit it is a vote for what you want your future self to be. Don’t focus on the what or how but rather on the who
- Habits aren’t about having something they are about becoming something
- Design your environment to force habit cues. You have to make it easy to engage in the habit or your brain will naturally find a way to escape doing the work
- Align yourself with people who successfully execute the habits you want to create in your life (monkey see, monkey do).
- The key to successfully creating a new habit is not time but repetitions. It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you do the habit every single day. As reps grow automaticity will follow.
- Try the two-minute rule. Break down the habit you want to create by doing it for 2 minutes to start. As it becomes easier bump the time up (example read for 2 minutes before bed).
- Find what you are naturally good at and create habits around it. Similarly, find what you are really bad at and analyze why you are bad and if the habit is worth your time
- Habits + deliberate practice = mastery
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