Atomic Habits

The big idea 1% improvement = 37% better

Why should you buy the book?

I was skeptical when I saw all the hype the book was creating when it came to the market, I listened to the audiobook last year, This year I wanted to assimilate every page of this book and I hope the reflections ahead will make you want to read the book too, because it's worth it.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Habits are easy to form if it's based on building your identity
  2. Make good habits easy and satisfying
  3. Showing up is as important as doing things
  4. Cue - Desire - Response - Reward
  5. Motivation is overrated

What I liked about the book?

  • The book is short, crisp and to the point.
  • The chapters are just 5-7 minutes long making it easy to read
  • Every chapter starts with a title that induces interest followed by a story, that puts things in perspective before reading the actual content
  • The ideas and perspective in the book are new. For eg., Instead of punishing ourselves for eating junk, watching television, overusing social media, James clear points out an alternative perspective of how we are all the victims of billions of dollars spent by these companies.

Techniques to build Good habits

Habit Stacking

Stack new habits with existing habits. For eg, "After waking up I'll meditate for 5 minutes, after meditating I will brush my teeth, after brushing I will write my journal"

Make It Attractive

It is an upgraded version of habit stacking, instead of stacking habits randomly, add new habits with habits you are excited about. For eg., After finishing this blog, I'll go out with friends.

Feedback loops Habit -> Identity

Feedback loops are yet another human nature that happens in the background. If you take moment to pause and reflect on your behavior and course-correct along the way the habit will soon become your identity

One space one use

Let's say you want to start meditating, it is better to have a separate space for it. Association of a habit with a place makes it easier to implement it.

Pointing and calling

One of the biggest problems with bad habits is that it's so ingrained that we are unaware of it. Pointing and calling is when you stack habits and call it out loud when you do it. Next time you grab that smoke shout out loud "I am going to smoke!!!"

Habit Contract

Call up a friend and tell them you are going to quit/finish something and if you fail to do it, you would give them a big treat. You might miss a few times but the negative reinforcement that comes along will make the bad habit boring and keep you committed to the good habit. Keeping the promise is the key here.

Use Friction to your advantage

Keep the good habit triggers closer and bad habit triggers far far away.

  • Put your gym clothes on
  • Never roll up your gym mat
  • Have books lying around you
  • Hide the cigarettes or even better lock it

Goldilocks Rule - To Stay motivated

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

When trying to incorporate new habits don't push yourself. Stretch yourself just enough such that it's both challenging and amusing.

2-minutes rule

To get beyond procrastination break good habits into 2-minute chunks

“Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
“Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat<
“Study for class” becomes “Open my notes.”
“Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
“Run three miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

Parallel Ideas

Good Habits vs positivity

The more you do good habits, the easier it becomes, I was writing my yearly reflections and most of it was positive, I looked back 10 years and most of the moments I remembered are positive. It’s not like nothing negative had ever happened to me but, The more you reinforce your brain to look at positive things, the hazier the negative things become.

Little bits of improvement

One of the famous ruling entertainment channel is known their games and reality shows, despite their competitors trying to invest more money, make it big, bringing in more celebrities but nothing can beat them.

One day I happen to stumble upon a spiritual channel with singers performing. It caught my attention because all the singers and musicians were making eye contact, smiling at each other, nodding their heads as to how much they enjoy it, transferring their enthusiasm across television. Though their backdrop was boring, their equipment is not fancy, It still got my attention.

Now coming back to the successful channel, they have every piece right, from lighting, camera angle, editing, anchoring and so on.

That's when it hit me if we focus on little pieces of our lives and improve it by a percent it would make a huge difference.

Environment Induces Habits

Some habits are not noticeable until there is a presence of higher power, this can be peer pressure, a more authoritative person or just the environment.

For eg., when I was in college I used to have long nails. After I started my job for the last 3 years I never had nails . I thought I just grew out of it. But when I took a break last November the nails grew back but when I went back to the job in October all nails gone.

Turns out I have the habit of ripping them off when I work on problems. Some habits like these are environmentally induced and are so grained that it goes unnoticed unless you make a major change to your environment.

Ready for some Good Habits?

Choosing the right habit is an explore exploit the problem, The book states that not all habits fit you People tend to beat themselves up if they can’t get a habit right but, with the right activity, you do more, the more you do the more it becomes a habit.




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