Atomic Habits by James Clear

1 Jun 2022

hello and welcome to this book summary

where we're looking at the book atomic

habits by James Kier

now it's very easy to underestimate the

value of making small improvements on a

daily basis

too often we convince ourselves that

massive success requires massive action

why should we try and get a little

better each day well because if you can

get just 1% better each day over the

next year you will be 37 times better by

the time you're done now this applies to

all goals whether they're losing weight

winning a race or starting a business

now according to atomic habits habits

are the compound interest of

self-improvement the same way that money

multiplies to compound interest the

effect of your habits multiplies as you

repeat them they seem to make little or

even no difference on any given day but

the impact they deliver over months or

years can be enormous

now bad habits compound to putting off a

project to tomorrow seems to make no

difference but when you repeat this type

of 1% error day after day after day

these tiny errors can be compounded into

toxic results success is the product of

daily habits not once in a lifetime

transformations would be aware that your

outcomes will lag behind your habits so

for example your wealth is a lagging

measure of your savings habits and

because of this lag factor you should be

far more concerned with your current

trajectory than with your current

results now the hallmark of any compound

process is that the most powerful

outcomes are delayed so habits appear to

make no difference until we cross a

threshold and unlock a new level of

performance the plateau of latent

potential shows us why it can be hard to

build habits you make a change but fail

to see any tangible results and you

decide to give up habits need to persist

long enough to break through this

plateau and that's going to take time

goals are the results that you want to

achieve and systems are about the

processes that lead to those results now

atomic habits states that if you focus

on the system the goal will take care of

itself now why is this well firstly

because winners and losers have the same

goals so every Olympian wants to win a

gold medal every entrepreneur wants to

be successful thus it's the system of

the winners that gets them those results

and not the goals because everyone

shares the same go secondly because

achieving a goal is only a momentary

change if our goal is to tidy a room and

we Tydeus then we fit our goal but

without changing our system will soon be

looking at a messy room again also goals

restrict your happiness our implicit

assumption is once I reach my goal then

I'll be happy but that sets us up to

fail because either you achieve your

goal but you don't feel fulfilled or you

fail to achieve your goal and that makes

you feel unhappy and also because goals

are at odds with long-term progress now

many people will train hard to complete

a marathon but when the marathon is over

they completely stopped running now the

goal of running the marathon was their

motivation but now it's gone

so they stopped so if you were having

trouble changing your habits the problem

isn't you the problem is your system

focusing on the overall system rather

than a single goal is one of the core

themes of Tomic habits you do not rise

to the level of your goals instead you

fall to the level of your system so it's

all about system not goals the three

layers of behaviour change you can think

about outcomes as being about what you

get processes are about what you do and

identity is about what you believe so

when people set out to improve they just

think I want to be skinny and if I stick

to this diet then I'll be skinny so

they're thinking about the outcome and

then thinking about the process they

need to follow to achieve that

outcome what they don't realize is that

their old identity can sabotage their

plans for change so for example you

might want better health but if you

continue to prioritize comfort over

accomplishment you will be drawn to

relaxing rather than training so it's

hard to change your habits if you don't

change your underlying beliefs that led

to your previous behavior so true

behavior change is identity change you

might start a habit because of

motivation but the only reason you stick

with one is because it becomes part of

your identity now boot habits can make

sense rationally but if they conflict

with your identity you will fail to

maintain them your identity is formed

through evidence so if you run even when

it's snowing you have some evidence that

you are a runner but it doesn't just

happen with one run it's a gradual

process that might even take years now

every action you take is a vote for the

type of person you wish to become no

single instance will transform your

beliefs but as the votes build up so

does the evidence of your new identity

so here's a simple two-step process for

change one beside the type of person you

want to be and to prove it to yourself

with small wins small atomic habits

everyday and this will set up a feedback

loop your habits will shape your

identity but then eventually your

identity will start to shape your habits

habits work like this first there is the

Q the Q triggers your brain to initiate

your behavior because it predicts a

reward next you have the craving what

you crave is not the habit itself but

the change in stage it delivers the

response is the actual habit you perform

and this can be a thought or an action

and finally the response delivers a

reward now the four steps together form

a neurological feedback loop Q craving

response reward Q craving response

reward that ultimately allow you to

create automatic habits

is the habit loop so atomic habits

provides a framework we can use to

transform the four steps of the habit

loop so that we can design good habits

and eliminate bad ones so if you want to

design good habits we need to make it

obvious we need to make it attractive we

need to make it easy and we need to make

it satisfying conversely if you want to

break bad habits then you need to make

it invisible make it unattractive make

it difficult and make it on satisfying

now note that the method of breaking a

bad habit is always just the opposite of

building a good one let's examine each

law in a bit more detail and in each

section we'll look at one way to boost

your good habits along with an inversion

showing you how to break bad habits so

the first law is make it obvious and

according to atomic habits one of the

best ways to build a new habit is to

identify an existing habit and then

stack a new behavior on top of it and

this is called habit stacking so an

example might be after I shower in the

morning I will meditate or another

example would be as soon as I take off

my shoes after work I will spend 30

minutes learning French now once you

begin to master how to do this you can

create larger stacks by chaining habits

together now habits that stacking works

best when the cue is highly specific and

immediately actionable now as an

inversion we have the secret of

self-control bad habits are

autocatalytic they feed themselves they

promote the feelings they try to numb so

for example you feel bad so you eat junk

food but because you've eaten junk food

you feel bad now the idea that

self-discipline can solve our bad habits

is deeply embedded within our culture

research however shows something

different it shows that disciplined

people spend less time in tempting

situations and a practical way to remove

a bad habit therefore is to reduce

exposure to the cue that causes it

so for example if you regularly feel

like you're not enough then stop using

social media that trigger triggers your

jealousy and your envy and this practice

is an inversion of the first law of

behavior change rather than make it

obvious we want to make it invisible

self-control is short term not long term

the second law is make it attractive and

temptation bundling is a way to create a more desirable version of a habit by

connecting ish with something you

already want now temptation bundling can

be used to make most habits more

attractive than they would be otherwise

and temptation bundling basically says

that you're more likely to find find a

behavior attractive if you get to do one

of your favorite things at the same time

so for example you want to know some

celebrity gossip but you also need to

get in shape

then using temptation bundling you could

only read gossip magazines at the gym

now temptation bundling can be used in

conjunction with habit stacking to

create a set of rules to guide your

behavior now your bad habits are modern

solutions to ancient desires new

versions of old vices the underlying

motive behind the way you behave remains

the same so for example if your

underlying motive is to find love you'll

have it might be using tinder if your

underlying motive is to achieve social

acceptance your habit might be posting

on Instagram now why is this important

well it's important because there are

many different ways to address the same

underlying motive you might reduce your

stress by going for a run

or you might reduce your stress by

smoking a cigarette your current habits

are not necessarily the best way to

solve your problems they are just simply

the methods you've learned to use so

when you binge eat what you really want

isn't a potato chip what you want is to

change the way you feel the cravings you

experience and then the habits you

perform are an attempt to

address the underlying motives so when a

habit is successful in addressing a

motive you develop a craving to do it

again and again and in time you learn to

predict the checking Instagram for

example will make you feel accepted now

a simple way to make a bad habit seem

unattractive is to try and find a better

way of meeting your underlying motive so

if you eat because you want to feel

better then maybe next time you want to

feel better you could try going for a

run it's easy to get bogged down in

trying to find the optimal plan for

change often we get so focused on

figuring out the best approach we forget

to actually take action and the book has

this concept of motion versus action so

when you're in motion your planning and

your strategizing and that's very

different from actually taking action

it's only action that can directly lead

to actual results or actual outcomes but

if motion doesn't lead to results then

why do we do it well sometimes we need

to plan and learn but more often than

not motion allows us to feel as though

we're making progress without running

the risk of failure motion makes us feel

like we're getting things done but

actually you're not you're just

preparing to get something done if you

want to build a habit you need

repetition not perfection

you need action so how long does it take

to form a habit well actually that's the

wrong question the real question should

be how many reps does it take to form a

habit because habits are based on

frequency not time so your current

habits have been internalized over

hundreds or maybe even thousands of

repetitions new habits will require the

same level of frequency now atomic

habits might just take a short moment to

complete but they can continue to impact

your behavior for hours afterward and

the two-minute rule utilizes this fact

by saying when you start a new habit

it should take less than two minutes to

do so for example you want to read more

than maybe you could read a page day or

how about you want to write more than

maybe you could simply write one

sentence per day and there are two

reasons why the two minute rule works so

firstly it's a gateway habit and that

means it naturally leads you down the

road to a more productive path secondly it

reinforces the identity you want to

build if you show up at the gym seven

days a week even if it's just for five

minutes you're becoming the type of

person who doesn't miss workouts a key

point here is to simply get started you can worry about improving your atomic

habit later but you cannot improve a

habit that doesn't exist so let's look

at the inversion sometimes success is

less about making good habits easy and

more about making bad habits hard now

one way to do this is by using something

called a commitment device and this is a

choice you make in the present to

control your actions in the future now a

commitment device makes bad habits

impractical to do they increase the

friction until you don't even have the

option to act so for example the average

person spends two hours per day on

social media now would you like to have

an extra 600 hours per year then maybe

you could ask your partner to change

your social media passwords every Monday

morning and only give them back to you

on Friday evening and you'll be

surprised how much extra time you gain

during each week using this kind of

commitment device next we have strategic

one-time decisions and these are things

you only have to do once but that keep

on giving and giving so for example if

you want to improve the quality of your

sleep you could buy a blackout blind if

you wanted to improve your mental health

then maybe you could get a dog and

thirdly we have technology now this is

especially useful when habits aren't

something you do every day

for example you could use an app to

automate your savings each month or to

automate your bill paying every month

now the fourth law is make it satisfying

you're more likely to repeat a behavior

when you find the experience satisfying

as humans it can be hard to pick up new

habits and that's because the beginning

of a new habit is mostly sacrifice

without reward you go to the gym a few

times and nothing happens it takes

months to see real results and this

difficulty is compounded because the

human brain has evolved to prioritize

immediate rewards over delayed rewards

so if you want to get a habit a stick

you need to figure out a way to give

yourself an immediate reward now one

technique you can use when the reward is

long term is to set up a loyalty system

for yourself so imagine you wanted to

give up alcohol now on its own there is

no real satisfaction in simply

abstaining but what if you transferred

$25 to your holiday bank account every

week you went without alcohol

you'd be immediately rewarding yourself

for your new habit now eventually the

intrinsic reward such as better moods

and more energy kick in and you'll no

longer need the reward as it's your

identity that will be changing now while

the first three laws of behavior change

make it obvious attractive and easy

increase the odds that a behavior will

be performed the fourth law make it

satisfying increases the odds that the

behavior will be repeated to stick to

your habits the book recommends using a

habit tracker why well because they

create a visual cue that reminds you to

act they're motivating because you see

the progress you're making and don't

want the streak to stop it's satisfying

to put another X on your tracker each

day and finally they provide visual

proof that you're casting votes for the

type of person you want to become now

things inevitably go wrong from

- time and you will break your streak

and when this happens try to get a new

streak started as quickly as possible

now missing once is an accident but

missing twice is the start of a new

habit and this is the difference between

winners and losers anyone can perform

badly once but when successful people

fail they rebound quickly the inversion

of the fourth law is to make it

unsatisfying we are less likely to

repeat a bad habit if it is painful and

unsatisfying in the moment now one way

to do this is to create an immediate

consequent to you using a habit contract

now these make the cost of violating

your promises public and painful so for

example every time you eat junk food you

could post on Facebook saying that

you've been unhealthy and offer $20 via

PayPal to the first person to respond

now an accountability partner can be really helpful with this -

accountability partners work because we

care about what others think about us

and we don't want them to have a poor

opinion of us now the fact we know

someone is watching can have a huge

impact on how we behave now finally we

have an advanced topic we're going to

cover around gaining mastery it's

precisely at the moment when you begin

to feel like you've mastered a skill

that you must avoid complacently so that

you progress to the next level so what's

the solution

well the book recommends establishing a

system for reflection and review and

that's going to enable you to

objectively see what's working and what

isn't and based on this make better

plans going forward now most people use

a weekly review or a monthly review or a

six-month review it depends on what

stage you're at and what you're trying

to achieve

so in summary atomic habits are small

habits that can have a huge impact if

performed over months or even years now

the goal isn't to make a single 1%

improvement but to make thousands of

them it's lots of atomic habits stacking


each part of a system that eventually

creates huge impact now at the start

small improvements often seem

meaningless even if you logically know

that they're the right thing to do

gradually though as you continue to

stack as small changes on top of one

another the scales starts to tip in your

favor eventually if you stick with it

you hit a tipping point suddenly it's

easier to stick with good habits and the

overall system is working for you rather

than against you now although there's

nothing new in the book atomic habits

I found it pulled lots of different

ideas together in a really cohesive way

I also found the four laws of behavior

change simple to remember and really

easy to implement on the downside

sometimes I fell sections were written

without having any real actionable steps

at the end of them and I was left

wondering how to implement what I just

read but overall I really think it's a

great book and I give atomic habits a

really solid 9 out of 10 so that's it

really hope you enjoyed this summary and

I look forward to speaking to you again


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