What I learned after reading Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book talks about how to create and maintain habits in your life, but also is about how to remove habits that you don’t want.
The base idea of the book is that you can create remarkable improvements in your life by improving 1 percent each day, this is the power of compounding, many books I’ve read in very different categories talk about this, and it’s because it’s so difficult for the human brain to wrap their head about how powerful this is:
So for example, by improving 1 percent each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done!
Take advantage of the compounding
The power of identity
The book also talks about how important it is to tight your identity to the habits you want to acquire, and to not think only in goals because as the book says:
The problems of focusing too much on goals:
- Achieving a goal is only a momentary change If your objective was only about a goal, once you accomplish it, you will probably lose your motivation and forget this habit.
This happened to me a while ago with biking, I wanted to do a 400kms race so bad that I trained like crazy for this, my motivation was on the roof, but once I did it, I’ve been struggling to find again the motivation to train at the levels before.
- Goals restrict your happiness If you live your life following a goal, you might never be good enough in your life, and your happiness will usually be postponed until this is done, like “I will finally be happy when I achieve this goal”
The process of creating an identity
Instead of saying to yourself:
I want to go to the gym every day
Say to yourself:
I’m the kind of person that cares about fitness
I’m the kind of person that is always learning something new
And once you have established the identity you want,** you need to start collecting votes**:
- Every time you do your action you come a bit closer to internalize your identity, a hack to apply when you don’t have motivation to do a habit a certain day is to ask yourself
Is this what an X (Your identity) will do in this case?
Following a plan to make new habits
Make it obvious
Put cues in your environment to trigger your brain into remembering and performing an action
Do you want to go to the gym every morning? Put your gym towel and shoes in the living room
If you already have good habits, you can bundle them together, this is effective as it creates a cue in your brain
“After I [Current habit], I will [new habit]”
Make it attractive
Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
- After I complete [Habit I need to do], I will [habit I want to do]
Find people that find your desired behavior desirable too
Do something you enjoy doing immediately after a difficult habit
Make it easy
Design your environment to make the new habit easier
- Taking back the previous example, do you want to go to the gym every day? Prepare all gym clothes every morning so when you wake up is only about taking them and go
Make your new habit small, start small, maybe following the 2 minutes rule
Make it satisfying
Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete the required action. This is important because your brain tends to prioritize behavior that gives you immediate satisfaction instead of long term satisfaction.
Never miss twice. Don’t break the chain
Removing a bad habit
Last but not least, the book talks about how to remove habits that you don’t want in your life, these rules are simply an inversion of the process to acquire a good habit:
Make it invisible
Make it unattractive
Make it difficult
Make it unsatisfying