I got through my high school and university years with my favourite quote being: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” by Aristotle. This quote helped me survive school.
When I picked up Atomic Habits by James Clear, I was very impressed with how goes in detail in creating great habits and eliminating bad ideas.
It lays out all the rules of changing/developing habits in a simple, straightforward way and gets right to the point without a bunch of ramblings.
The author’s framework to the formation of right habits is:
- Cues — triggers and signs in environment; you need to make it obvious
- Cravings — motivations to pursue; you need to make habits attractive
- Response — actions we take; habits need to be made little easy to start with and then little hard incrementally, so that they don’t become too hard in one go. Make it easy does not mean easy things — but to remove as much friction that stands in the way of doing things you want to do.
- Rewards — feedback, the satisfaction for cravings; habits need to be made satisfying.
For each of the above elements in the framework, the author provides practical advice on what levers could be changed, to make those elements effective.
For example: For cues, the author covers aspects like location, time and also what he calls as Habit stacking [piling a new habit on top of an existing habit].
He also advocates planting visual cues all along the spaces so that the environment is designed right for habit formation. If youmare having trouble changing your habits, the problem is not you. The problem is your system.
For craving, he suggests ideas like temptation bundling [like get on treadmill while watching Netflix].
My advice before starting this book, write down some good habits you want to build and some bad habits you want to break. This book is filled with practical steps and examples. As you read this book, apply the guidelines on the good habits you want to build and the bad ones you want to break.
The reason I love this book is because it gives you a blueprint on the how of creating good habits.
It breaks down the details of how to develop habits by giving simple examples. But it also helps in how to stop bad habits that you may have.
The book is softly written, simple English, the examples are relatable, and it has great stories. I really enjoyed how easily digested this book was.
The draw-back for me is that it has too many stories, the concepts are not really new, and it feels like I’m reading a summary of other books on habits.
Overall, I recommend Atomic Habits because of the way it blends in some practical tips with powerful stories that align with those tips.
- “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
- “Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
- “The best way of building a habit is making it part of your identity.”
- “Make it easy to start: Habits are the entry point – not the goal. “Read 30 books” ⇒ “Read before bed every night” ⇒ “Read one page”. Reduce a habit into a 2-minute first step.”
- “Stick to the plan: “Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way.”
- “Don’t be a “fair weather runner” if you want to run a lot.”
- “Make it hard to do the things you want to avoid.”
- “Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. Building habits in the present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.”
- “The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
- “With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.”