Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

by James Clear and Penguin Audio

Nutshell:

In Chapter 3 the author gives the key to building better habits: behaviors with satisfying consequences will be repeated. Another interesting fact he points out: As habits are created, brain activity decreases

We are wasting time and energy when we are constantly thinking about how to use our time.  Time spent deciding is eating away our free time.

 

Notice cues – cues tell us we are close to a reward.

Thoughts feelings and emotions transform the cue into a craving. Not for (a cigarette) but for the  state (of mind or other) the (cigarette) brings

Blockade at any of the steps breaks the habit

 

 

Deeper dive

               Read the book for the author’s story – No spoiler here, you really have to read the book, it is not my story to tell.

               Sometimes you won’t notice any change for a while. The author uses Bamboo as a good example.  You won’t see much (progress, plant above the soil) in the first few years. Trust the process, the systems you create. You will see progress over time.  The author encourages us to not be put off by the “valley of disappointment” where you are seeing less results you expect – keep up the habit and you will be rewarded with results exceeding your expectations.

               A key item: People who want different results think that changing their processes will yield different results and then they will finally be able to believe they are capable of better things. This is backwards. Examine your beliefs first. Change your beliefs by focusing on WHO you want to become, then change your process to fit your new beliefs. “I am a nonsmoker/healthy eater/weightlifter/person who reads interesting books.” Then build identity-based habits. You will get different (more desirable) results. Your (new) identity gives you courage to stay the course when temptation comes knocking.

               If you’re always late, you will be late to your next engagement. If you are someone who values your time and the time of others, you start showing up in time. Notice “Cues” – these tell us we are close to our reward. Thoughts and beliefs transform cues into cravings. Not for the (cigarette) but for the end result (relaxation). Response (smoking) is the habit. The habit delivers the reward (relaxation).

               I hate going to the gym to lift weights. I’d rather be riding my bike on the road than going to “cycle class” at the gym. But I am someone who loves that feeling accomplishment combined with muscle fatigue that tells me I just finished a good workout. (And now I can have dessert tonight!)

               At this point I think the author makes a crucial mistake. He says that your chances of success go up the more pride you have associated with this identity. While pride may increase your effectiveness, this is not a healthy way to achieve and maintain success. This leads to an “I can never miss a day at the gym” attitude, which can negatively impact other aspects of your life. He does get it right when he says when you are trying to change your identity, you are in a battle of beliefs and every action you take is a vote for one belief or the other.

               You smoke 1 cigarette – 1 vote for “I AM a smoker

               You don’t smoke 3 cigarettes – 3 votes for “I AM a Nonsmoker.”

So

  1. Decide the type of person you want to be
  2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
  3. Continuously edit your beliefs and to upgrade and expand your identity