Atomic Habits by James Clear

August 1, 2019 | By Colin | Filed in: Book Summaries / Reviews, Musings and Ideas for Discussion, Thought Leadership, Writing.

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. A revolutionary system to get 1 per cent better every day

Atomic HabitsPeople think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call.

He calls them atomic habits.

In this ground-breaking book, Clear reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule, or the trick to entering the Goldilocks Zone), and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter.

These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life

My 5 take-aways

  1. Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the process that leads to those results. As a side note: There are no good habits or bad habits: only effective habits. Ask the question, "Does this behaviour help me become the type of person I wish to be?”
    1. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals, focus on your systems instead
      1. So James Clear says “Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves”.
      2. Create a system of ATOMIC HABITS. An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system.
    2. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.

I am focusing on creating a habit of writing. Focussing on who I wish to become. A writer. What about you?

  1. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience
    1. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become?

We need to take a deep dive into our psyche (might need a life coach?) to understand what this means for us. What/who do we believe we are? Start by completing the values questionnaire that you will find on this page. It is a great start to finding out what you believe about yourself. Some core values from Mr James Clear.

  1. The 4 laws of behaviour change are as follows:
    1. Cue (Make it obvious), Craving (Make it attractive), Response (Make it easy) Reward (Make it satisfying).

I won’t go into these in much detail. You’ll need to read the book, but suffice to say, you can use these 4 laws to guide you through the minefield of issues standing in the way of your success. Any success. Business, personal, emotional, financial – whatever.

Note that the inversion of each of these rules can be used to break ineffective habits.

  • Take the cue from something you WANT, really want, and make it, in your mind, really obvious that this is the way you need to go. Lose weight for example.
  • Then convert this into a craving. Make the whole deal attractive, ie kinda like WHY you want it. To be the best looking guy/girl on the beach. See it. Feel it. Smell it. Hear what people say. You know what I mean.
  • Respond to these feelings by taking action. For this to happen – it must be easy. No one will do anything for long if it is tedious. This is where small comes in. Start with having only half a glass of wine with dinner or half a serving of dessert. (If weight loss is your goal).
  • Finally, you need a reward. (Not another chocolate biscuit) Think of something you really like, say an extra hour in bed with a good book? Something that will make you feel good. Do it. Don't miss it. This is very important. That’s it.
  1. Use triggers to help you. If that happens- do this. Do things at a specific time each day. (I write 700 words each morning before breakfast. Doesn’t matter what I write it is the process that counts.) Then try stacking one habit upon another. After I do that – do this. Make the environment work for you. Put pill bottles next to your bed, for example, so you’ll get into the habit of taking your pills before you go to sleep.

Remember the 2-minute rule. When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.

  1. Finally, Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. Have an accountability partner or mentor. This is a fundamental law of personal development.

There is much, much more. The book is full of lists, exercises, references and stories to which we can all relate. Look for the paper clip strategy for example, and see how it can work in your life. A strategy about habit tracking.

Management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can't manage what you can't measure.” Drucker means that you can't know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.

Check out the Goldilocks rule. What the? Yep, it's a real thing. Look for it in ch.19.

Summary

Make one small change and repeat it over time. A new habit will be formed, almost un-consciously. This is awesome stuff.
Read ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olsen and David Mann.

5 Key Take-Aways 7 Favourite Self-Help / Personal-Development Books


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