Atomic Habits. Breaking down habits into atoms. How to acquire the good ones and discard the bad ones: Awesome summary by ebookhike

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Author: James Clear 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones James Clear 2018

Atomic Habits
Atomic Habits

The Powerful Power of Tiny Habits (Atomic Habits)

Atomic Habits: We often underestimate the importance of small daily actions. We think that global one-time changes are necessary to achieve success.

But even a small, almost imperceptible, one percent daily improvement will lead to the fact that at the end of the year you will be 37 times better in your chosen area than you were at the beginning (how this math works – see below).

Accepting the value of small changes is difficult because we don’t see immediate results.

If we went to the gym once, then the figure has not changed at all. If you have learned a new word in a foreign language, then we will not be able to speak it right away.

Atomic Habits

The same is true with bad habits. 

If we ate one candy, then the weight did not change. If you are late for a business meeting, then your colleagues will forgive you.

Atomic Habits

The truth is that both bad and good repetitive actions have a cumulative effect. Good habits make time an ally. Bad habits turn time into an enemy.

Scheme. Hidden Potential Plateau

If you set aside a small amount on a savings account every day, then you can enjoy good results in a year. And if you spend a little more than you earn, then by the end of the year you can run into big trouble.

Atomic Habits

Sometimes success with other people looks like an instant powerful breakthrough. In fact, there is a huge amount of preliminary daily work behind this, which is not visible for a long time. And only after the critical threshold has been passed – the valley of disappointments or the plateau of hidden potential – the result becomes obvious. 

If you plant bamboo, then for the first five years it is practically invisible, since the plant is busy strengthening its root system. Once the bamboo is firmly anchored in the ground, it shoots up, growing 20 meters in 6 weeks. 

If you want to know where you are in life, then look at the graph and track your curve of tiny improvements or small deteriorations, and see how your daily choices will affect you in a few years.

Scheme. 1% better every day

Focus on the system, forget the goals 

To stick to the right behavior all the time, you need to focus on the system, not the goals. 

What is the difference between a system and goals? Goals are the results you want to achieve. A system is a process or path that will lead you to the desired results. A goal is good for seeing direction, and a system is ideal for progress and success.

If you are an entrepreneur, then your goal might be to make a million dollars in profits. And the system is what kind of people to hire, how to cut costs, what marketing policy to follow.

Atomic Habits

If you focus only on goals, there are several problems:

  1. Winners and losers have the same goals. Every participant in sports dreams of getting first place. But only one person will win – the one who is focused on progress in the system of training, daily routine, nutrition, and thinking. 
  2. Achieving a goal is only a momentary change. If a person buys a language course, he will speak it at the end of the course. But there will be no further progress if after the course you do not continue classes on a regular basis. 
  3. Goals hinder happiness. Very often people feel that they can afford to be satisfied only when they have achieved some significant goals. And if you enjoy the process of achieving the goal, then you don’t have to wait to feel happy. 
  4. Goals are at odds with the long-term process. If, during intense preparation for the exam, you study new materials, and delve into knowledge, then after passing it, development in this industry may stop, since the exam no longer motivates. 

If you are not successful, then the problem is not with you, but with the system, you have chosen.

System improvement depends on small, atomic habits that you can build into the system and achieve great results.

Three levels of behavior change

The diagram shows three levels of change in people’s behavior.

Scheme. Three levels of behavior change

The first level of change changes in what you get as a result. Publish a book, get a new job, and run a marathon. 

The second level of change is a process change, habit change. Introduce a new training program, refuse junk food, and reduce time on social networks.

The third level of change is personality change. What do you think about yourself and others, and what do you believe. 

When people plan for change, they often do not think about changing their personality, but simply focus on the results they want to achieve. Set goals and choose what actions will lead to them. 

People think that if they go to the gym (process), they will soon acquire a beautiful figure (result).

Atomic Habits

At the same time, people forget that their beliefs can hinder the achievement of goals.

A person believes that he does not have the ability for languages, which means that he will abandon the study of a new language at the first difficulties. 

Atomic Habits

Real behavioral change is personality change. 

A person is much more likely to train every day if he considers himself an athlete. And run in any weather if he believes he is a runner. 

Atomic Habits

To form the right beliefs, you need to confirm them to yourself with daily small actions and victories.

Every time you draw a picture, you prove to yourself that you are an artist. Every time you take responsibility for others, you prove to yourself that you are a leader. 

Atomic Habits

Two-step process for change:

  1. Determine the type of person you want to be.
  2. Prove it to yourself with small victories (atomic habits).

The main focus of change should be on what kind of person you want to become, not what you want to get.

This will create a feedback loop: your habits will shape your personality, and then your personality will shape your habits.

habit loop

The process of building a new habit can be divided into four stages:

1) signal;
2) desire;
3) reaction;
4) reward.

First, the brain catches a signal that a person will receive a reward for certain behavior. In response, there is a passionate desire to earn this reward. There is a reaction – actions to get what you want. And as a result, a reward awaits a person. 

You were passing by a candy store on your way to the office and you smelled the inviting smell of baking. You wanted to eat a bun. You bought a bun and ate it. You felt satisfied. Now buying a bun will be associated with the road to the office.

Atomic Habits

A habit is formed when it goes through all four stages. If at least one of them is violated, the behavior will not become a habit. 

The four stages that form the neurological feedback loop (Cue, Drive, Response, Reward, Cue, Drive, Response, Reward) ultimately allow you to create automatic habits. It’s called a habit loop.

Scheme. habit loop

The Four Laws of Behavior Change

The process of habit formation can be explained by four laws or four rules of behavior change.

How to develop good habits

To get rid of bad habits, you need to use the opposite rules.

How to get rid of bad habits

If you want to change your behavior for the better, ask yourself:

How can I make it obvious?
How can I make it attractive?
How can I make it easy?
How can I make it satisfying?

You have decided to add fruits to your diet to improve your health.

Atomic Habits

1. Put them in the most visible place, do not hide them in the refrigerator.
2. Start with the most delicious fruits for you.
3. Choose those fruits that can be eaten without prior preparation, that is, apples, not melons. 
4. If you like the fruits you have chosen, then you will enjoy them and feel healthier.

And if you decide to quit smoking, then do it differently.

Atomic Habits

1. Hide cigarettes.
2. Agree that you will pay a fine to friends or colleagues when they see you with a cigarette.
3. Throw away all lighters.
4. Allow yourself to smoke only outside in bad weather – you will be cold and wet and will not enjoy smoking.

First Law: Make Signals Obvious

Before you build new habits or get rid of old ones, you need to deal with existing ones. The author advises to write down all your daily actions, to mark “+” positive, “-” negative, and “=” neutral. It is important to consider the impact these actions have on you in the long run. 

The best way to introduce a new habit

To introduce a new habit, it is good to use the “implementation of intention”. That is, tie the intention to do something to a specific action, place, or time. The formula looks like this:

“When situation A happens, I will do B.”

And even more precisely:

“I will [do] at [time] at [place] .”

I will exercise every evening at 17:00 for one hour at the local gym. I will study English every morning at 9:00 am for 30 minutes at my desk in the office. 

Atomic Habits

When people translate their intentions into concrete plans, they often succeed in introducing new habits. The main thing is to take the planned actions for a long time. 

Adding Habits

One of the best habit-building strategies is to add new habits to existing ones. Habit Adding Formula:

“After [existing habit] I will be [new habit] .”

After I have a cup of coffee in the morning, I will meditate for five minutes.

Atomic Habits

When the chosen habit is strengthened, you can create whole chains of actions.

Scheme. Adding habits.

After I have a cup of coffee in the morning, I will meditate for five minutes. After I meditate for five minutes, I will write a to-do list for the day. After I write the list for the day, I will do exercises for 15 minutes.

Create your environment

Very often we do some things not because we want to, but because the environment pushes us.

We will eat candy if it is in a vase on the table. We’ll order coffee if we smell it. We will not read a book if we have to go to another room for it, but we will watch TV if the remote control is nearby. 

Atomic Habits

To form the right habits, it is important to create the right environment for yourself. This will allow you to feel more control over your behavior and achieve success.

Want to drink more water? Put small bottles on your desk every morning and set up a water dispenser in your office.

Atomic Habits

Second Law: Make Performance Attractive

The more attractive the introduction of a habit, the more likely it is to take root for a long time. The more the reward beckons, the easier it is to master new actions. 

Turn Seduction into Adding Habits

Advanced Habit Adding Formula:

1) “after [an existing habit] I will be [a habit to be introduced]” ;
2) “After [the habit to be introduced] I will [the action I want]. “

After I get back from my lunch break, I’ll make three calls to potential clients. After I make three calls to potential clients, I can check Instagram.

Atomic Habits

Consider social norms

Social norms have a subconscious influence on our behavior. The culture in which we move dictates rules and norms to us. At what age to start a family, what holidays to celebrate, and where to spend your vacation. It is easier to adhere to the rules of the environment in which you are constantly. 

We are most often influenced by the habits of three main groups:

1) close people;
2) most of the people around us;
3) the most influential persons.

To introduce new habits, it makes sense to surround yourself with people who already have them, who appreciate the behavior you want, and with whom you can develop together.

Third law: make it easy

If you want to introduce a new habit, then the most important thing is to repeat new actions as often as possible. The idea is not to do it perfectly but to do it. 

Too often people get bogged down in the details at the planning stage. And the bottom line is that you need to move on to action.

If you want a good figure, then you should not wait until you find the perfect diet, the best training plan and the most correct exercises. Start practicing and make adjustments over time.

Atomic Habits

Law of Least Effort

We tend to do things with the least amount of effort. That is why in order to introduce a new habit, you need to create a favorable environment where actions can be performed very easily. 

Do you want to learn a language? Find courses on the way from work to home, or better yet, a teacher who will come to your house. 

Atomic Habits

And to get rid of a bad habit, create difficult conditions for its implementation.

Want to watch less TV? Hide the remote in a safe that only your wife knows the code to.

Atomic Habits

The Fourth Law: Get Satisfaction from Performance

We stick to bad habits because they give us an immediate feeling of pleasure, even if we realize that they will lead to bad consequences in the future. Good habits are difficult to implement because the rewards are not immediately felt. 

We went to the hall, but the figure did not change. We will go regularly for a year – we will get a beautiful body. We drank a glass of wine, relaxed, but a daily glass of wine will not lead to good health. 

Atomic Habits

The cardinal rule of behavior change is that what is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.

The idea of ​​the fourth law is to feel immediate satisfaction from the introduction of a good habit.

Do you want to write a book? Open a savings account and after ten pages written, transfer a certain amount to yourself. When the book is written, spend the money on a nice purchase.

Atomic Habits

Habit tracker

Use the tracker to keep track of your new habits. It can be a program on a computer, an application on a phone, an ordinary notebook, or even paper clips that you will transfer from one box to another. The main thing is that your progress tracker is highly visible and easy to use. 

Tracking positive results, and marking the completion will bring you immediate satisfaction.

The main rule of introducing a new habit is not to interrupt the sequence of your actions. We decided to go to the gym – go every day, do not miss it. If you miss once, it can be called an accident. Twice – that’s it, a new habit will begin to form to give up the difficult halfway. 

The algorithm for acquiring a good habit and getting rid of a bad one 

Law 1: Make good signals visible and bad signals invisible. 

  1. Write down all your daily activities and divide them into positive, negative, and neutral.
  2. Use the intention realization formula: “I will [do] at [time] at [place].”
  3. Use the formula for adding habits: “After [existing habit] I will be [new habit].”
  4. Transform your environment so that the signals of new habits stand out.
  5. Remove all possible signals that provoke you to follow a bad habit.

Law 2: Make performance attractive to good habits and unpleasant to bad habits.

  1. Include temptation in adding habits. 
  2. Add an action you really want to take to what you need to do.
  3. Join a society where the habit or behavior you desire is well received and encouraged.
  4. Come up with a motivational ritual, and do something very nice for yourself after you complete a series of new habits.
  5. Consider all the downsides and consequences of following a bad habit.

Law 3: Make it easy for a good habit and hard for a bad one.

  1. Remove as many barriers to the new habit as possible.
  2. Create an environment conducive to the new habit.
  3. Track the moment of decision making, and make it easy to make the right decision.
  4. Break the habit into small parts so that each part can be done in a couple of minutes or less.
  5. Add automatism and technical devices to make it easier to execute the habit.
  6. Add as many barriers to the old habit as possible.
  7. Create an environment that is inhospitable to the old habit.

Law 4. Get satisfaction from performance.

  1. Reward yourself immediately after doing the right thing.
  2. Consider the benefits of introducing a good habit.
  3. Use a tracker to track the adoption of a habit.
  4. Never skip the selected action twice.
  5. Agree with a partner, or colleague that he will help you track your behavior.
  6. Punish yourself immediately after a wrong action.

The sooner you start introducing new habits, the sooner it will change your life for the better. 

The four laws above are a great foundation to help you develop good habits and break bad ones.

If one small positive change is added to one more, and then another and another, then a powerful positive transformation of all life will occur.

Top 10 Thoughts 

1. Habits have incredible potential. If you repeat even the smallest action daily, then in the end you can achieve a tremendous improvement in life.

2. To achieve success in the introduction of habits, you need to change the wrong thinking model, suggesting that you first need to choose a goal, make a plan, and this will lead to a change in personality for the better. The right model is to decide what kind of person you want to be, make a clear and simple plan, and get results. 

3. Every habit starts with a cue or trigger that shows a possible reward. The desire for a reward causes the desire to receive it. Aspiration breeds action. Actions lead to a reward. Without going through all four stages, a habit will not form. 

4. Good habits are easier to develop in the right environment. To form it, you need to surround yourself with bright and noticeable incentives that will push you to take action in the right direction.

5. To introduce a new habit, you need to make new daily activities as simple and enjoyable as possible. To do this, you must allow yourself to enjoy pleasant deeds only after new ones are completed. 

6. It is worth removing as many as possible obstacles to perform new actions. You need to break them down into really tiny pieces. Each task should take no more than two minutes to complete. 

7. Every series of correct actions must be followed by a reward. Reward yourself for following a good habit and for avoiding a bad one. 

8. Tracking a continuous chain of implemented habits brings additional satisfaction and motivates further improvement. Use technology and technical devices to control and limit.

9. Involve your environment in helping you. Make contracts with loved ones to feel additional responsibility for your actions. 

10. Improvement is the continuous process of narrowing down the focus to a tiny element of success, repeating it until you master the skill, and then using that new habit to move on to the next milestone.

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