Title: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Publisher: Penguin Random House
“With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.”
In his book, “Atomic Habits” James Clear, takes us into the world of habits, the everyday automatic actions that we do and do not do, these very same actions will form our future without us even noticing!
The beginning of “Atomic Habits” helps us create a bond with James. He starts out by telling us about his experience in high-school and how an accident in baseball training almost killed him (he was hit in the face with a bat). He walks us go through his recovery, and all the doubts and fears that he had, and his comeback to baseball.
After he recovered he started going to college, and his life changed for the better. Because of the accident, he first wanted to bring his life together, so while his friends stayed up late playing video games, he followed a routine. He went to bed early, he cleaned his room, he created habits to help him study and ended up getting A’s – being selected as the top male athlete at his university.
With all these small improvements and details, he didn’t just enjoy these benefits in the long run, but he realized how powerful these small habits were.
From there, James describes to us different examples, methods, and approaches of how people changed their lives with just being 1% better each day through small improvements that we can all do.
Atomic Habits and The 4 Laws of Behaviour Change
James mentions the 4 Laws of Behaviour Change, which are a simple set of rules to build better habits.
Below I explain these so you can gather them in a ‘snapshot overview’ along with examples of their daily practice in real life.
The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
Our brain is made to work using the least amount of energy possible, in other words, we do things automatically without any second thought.
We have to train our brain to recognize and pick up cues that predict certain outcomes unconsciously. The more we practice a specific habit, the easier it will be to repeat it.
Create a ‘context’ where doing the right thing is easy and doing the wrong thing is difficult.
See how your house is organized, where the junk food is and where the healthy food is, and check your social group.
The 2nd Law: Make it Attractive
If something that we do has a reward, the temptation and expectation to get it will drive our dopamine levels higher.
So basically, “the more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming.”
Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
You want to watch sports, but you need to make sales calls:
- 1. After I get back from my lunch break, I will call three potential clients (need).
- 2. After I call three potential clients, I will check ESPN (want).
The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
Do not just be in motion, but take action. The most effective form to learn is practice, not planning, you will have to repeat something again and again and again, until you can do it with your eyes closed.
This goes with what we talked about in the 1st rule; as humans, we follow the Law of Least Effort, which basically means that we tend to do things that require the less amount of energy possible. Therefore, do not make things harder for yourself, do not associate friction with good behaviours, associate headaches with the bad ones!
The 2-minute rule:
“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do”
Start with something simple, a small detail, and then with daily practice, start building momentum, thus a new habit.
- Very easy: Put on your running shoes
- Easy: Walk ten minutes
- Moderate: Walk ten thousand steps
- Hard: Run 5K
- Very hard: Run a marathon
The 4th Law: Make it Satisfying
With the three first laws, you can increase the odds that a behaviour will be performed, but if you add the 4th one, it will increase the odds that the behaviour will be repeated next time.
This law is simple, after doing something, we should feel good about ourselves so we can repeat the behaviour the next time, but if after all the effort we do not have any reward, or even worse, we get punished, we will not repeat it again.
A habit tracker is a simple way to measure if you did perform a habit, for example marking it off with an X on the calendar. This is a visual form of measure that provides you with clear evidence of your progress and gives you satisfaction when you realize how much you have done so far.
“Atomic Habits” is a superb book, full of strategies and practical methods that are really easy to follow and everything is explained with examples, stories, and backed up with credible psychological data.
He talks about genes and how we can take advantage of our situations by doing and pursuing what makes us feel alive but always being honest with ourselves.
Even pro athletes do not feel like training sometimes, we are all humans, sometimes ‘passion’ is not enough, that is when we focus on ‘discipline’; we focus on who can take more pain but also more ‘boredom’ and keep going.
Always be aware of your habits, keep learning and keep focused on your goals, surround yourself with people who want the best for you and track your progress so you can motivate yourself when you feel down.
The last thing I am going to mention is the simplest one and, in my opinion, the best key point from the book; get 1% better each day, which means: the fact that we do not see quick change does not mean we are not making progress. Perish the thought!
Each day read one page, each day, do one minute of meditation, each day, do one push up, and by the end of the year you will have read 365 pages, you will have done 365 minutes of meditation and 365 push ups. Make time your ally not your enemy.
Little Lessons from the Four Laws
- “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
- “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”
- “Problem #1: Winners and losers have the same goals.”
- “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
- “When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.”