Atomic Habits

Tiny Changes Remarkable Results - Over Time

We live in a delayed return environment yet we are hardwired for instant gratification



Atomic Habits - Overview

Atomic habits are:

  1. The single irreducible component that when practiced regularly yield incredible results through the power of compound growth.
  2. Comprised of small and seemingly insignificant changes that will compound into remarkable results if you persist with them consistently over many years.
  3. The result of having the right system in place. Bad habits are the result of you having the wrong system in place.



The 5 Core Themes

James Clear's best selling book "Atomic Habits" is summarised excellently by Samuel Thomas Davis, and he identifies these 5 core themes:

  1. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
  2. Forget about setting goals and focus on your system instead and you will achieve better results
  3. Focus on who you wish to become not on what you want to achieve. This is the most effective way to change your habits. 
  4. "The Four Laws of Behavior Change" are the following simple rules to build better habits: [1] make it obvious [2] make it attractive [3] make it easy, and [4] make it satisfying.
  5. Human behavior  is shaped by the the invisible hand of the environment.





Atomic Habits - Key Take Away

I have read a number of reviews and summaries of James Clear's "Atomic Habits" and they focus on various aspects of the many very strong points in the book. However, my personal key takeaway is this:

In the modern world  we live in a "delayed return environment" where the ability to accept deferred gratification is critical.


We live in a delayed return environment

From an evolutionary perspective, back when we were living on the plains of Africa most of our decisions had an immediate impact and thus our focus was on the present or near future - what Clear refers to as an immediate-return environment.

In life on the Savannah plains of Africa it made sense to place a premium on instant gratification. Our survival often depended on it. So, our brains evolved over time to prefer quick hits of pleasure to the kind of satisfaction one might get from long-term accomplishments.

Whereas, as Clear points out:

"In modern society, many of the choices you make today will not benefit you immediately…You live in what scientists call a delayed-return environment because you can work for years before your actions deliver the intended payoff."

But given that are brains are hardwired for instant gratification, they process and evaluate potential rewards by ascribing a higher value to the present and a discount to the future.

This is the problem we face:

What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided...”

Therefore we have to align our behavioural changes  - adopting good habits - to this reality or we fail. Clear regards this is the number rule of behavioural change.




    “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to be broken” [Bertrand Russell]






How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps

readingraphics


Habits do not restrict freedom, they create it. The people who don’t have their habits handled are often the people with the least amount of freedom.

  • Without good financial habits, you will always be struggling for the next dollar.
  • Without good health habits, you will always seem to be short on energy.
  • Without good learning habits, you will always feel like you are behind the curve.

The 4-Step Process of Building a Habit (The Habit Loop)

  1. Cue
  2. Craving
  3. Response
  4. Reward

By the time we become an adult, we rarely notice the habits that are running our lives.

The Four Laws of Behavior Change:

  1. Cue: Make it obvious.
  2. Craving: Make it attractive.
  3. Response: Make it easy.
  4. Reward: Make it satisfying.

Invert these laws to break a bad habit:

  1. Cue: Make it invisible.
  2. Craving: Make it unattractive.
  3. Response: Make it difficult.
  4. Reward: Make it unsatisfying.

Whenever you want to change your behavior, you can ask yourself:

  1. How can I make it obvious?
  2. How can I make it attractive?
  3. How can I make it easy?
  4. How can I make it satisfying?











Atomic Habits - Key Quotations by James Clear




    Success


    Success is the product of daily habits - not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”


    "Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross, it is a system to improve, an endless process to refine."


    If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses, and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.









    Results


    You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”

    Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits.

    • Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits.
    • Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits.
    • Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits.
    • Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits.

    You get what you repeat.”


    "Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way."

    "Habits are the backbone of any pursuit of excellence."









    Breakthroughs


    Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.”        


    "It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis."






    Time


    Time magnifies the margin between success and failure.

    It will multiply whatever you feed it.

    Good habits make time your ally.

    Bad habits make time your enemy.”








    Systems


    “Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”


    "You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems."








Further reading:

The Power of Habits

Delayed Gratification

The Road Less Traveled

Return from "Atomic Habits" to: Mental Models




Zen-Tools.Net



English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Live In A Participatory Universe

    What good is a universe without somebody around to look at it? What Conclusions Can We Draw About Living In A Participatory Universe? The inescapable conclusion is that the world and the universe (wit…

    Read More

  2. 4 Keys To Working With The Energy Of Life

    The journey home to the energy of life does not consist in arriving at a new destination it is a coming home to one’s self. [1] How are you feeling, what is your dominant emotion right now? [2] Where…

    Read More

  3. How To Deal With The Challenges Of Playing The Long Game

    You have to be willing to suffer today in order to reap enormous rewards tomorrow. The long game is so hard to play because it involves taking a series of very small steps, that people rarely see, per…

    Read More

  4. A Message For The New Year

    The outcomes that you experience are determined by your responses to the events in your life. 2 questions for you: [1] Have you made that fundamental connection between response and outcome? [2] Have…

    Read More

  5. If You Don't Take Care Of You, Who Will?

    How To Build Self Esteem In my early life and until my early twenties I suffered from a deep inferiority complex and low self esteem. Forty years later and, said in sincerity and with humility, I have…

    Read More

  6. Pay Attention To What Bothers Other People About You

    How To Develop Self Awareness Self awareness is how you consciously know and understand your own character, feelings, motives, and desires. In practical terms self awareness means: looking for pattern…

    Read More

  7. Be The Light At The End Of Someone Else's Tunnel

    What does it mean to Be the Light? "I can't cope with life, I just don't want to live any more," says a woman's softly spoken voice. "Nobody has listened, I just want to go to sleep and not wake up."

    Read More

  8. Asking The Right Questions - How To Avoid Wonky Thinking

    The human brain is hardwired to deal with immediate threats but in the modern world we live in a delayed benefit environment. One of the major points of focus on this site is learning how to think and…

    Read More

  9. Learn How To Benefit From The Fat Tail Fractal Factor

    Less than 1% of your efforts and resources can deliver over 50% of your results. Put simply, the fat tail fractal factor is a statistician's way of saying that less than 1% of your efforts and resour…

    Read More

  10. Dunbar's Number, More In Common And The Narcissism of Minor Differences

    A Reflection On Human Perversity. Dunbar's number has become an urban myth. It is an estimate of the number of people that we are allegedly hardwired to be to able to maintain stable and meaningful r…

    Read More

  11. Give Thanks In Everything - Respond Don't React!

    This is about responding to what happens not reacting to it. To give thanks in everything involves a seismic shift in perspective that can appear illogical and at best counter-intuitive, and at worst…

    Read More

  12. Recognising Limbo As A Stage Of Transition

    Limbo is transformed when you use it as an opportunity to do what you've long needed to do. Limbo is a situation in which nothing happens or changes for a long period of time, and it is difficult to m…

    Read More

  13. On Becoming The Ferryman

    The art of living is knowing how to make use of suffering. The traditional life of The Ferryman is all about transporting passengers from one side of a river or estuary to the other. He is needed wher…

    Read More

  14. Things Of The Spirit

    We are more than our bodies, and belong to more than just this earth. True wisdom lies in seeing the bigger picture, and fully living in a world that we know experientially to be intimately interconne…

    Read More

  15. Mind Games & How To Free Yourself From Them

    Don't give 100 percent of your attention to the external world and to your mind. Keep some within. This morning was the beginning of a not-so-good day. I sat down first thing with my early morning cup…

    Read More

  16. Just Do It - A Call To Action And Getting Started

    "Just Do It" has been popularised by Nike who have had it as a trademark since 1988 and like all successful promotional ideas it is one of those phrases that can mean whatever you want it to mean. In…

    Read More

  17. Self Dialogue - Dealing With Your Many Selves

    The key to effective self dialogue is to have tools, techniques and resources that work with all levels of your mind. This simple self-facilitated technique - or practice - that I am going to share wi…

    Read More

  18. The Transformative Power Of Acceptance

    There is one word in amongst the 400,000 words on this site that does have the power to change you and to transform your life - if you choose to act upon it. That word is acceptance. The power of acc…

    Read More

  19. Stop Thinking

    Discover The Benefits Of Having Space In Your Mind Can you stop thinking? According to Zen Buddhist priest Shunmyo Masuno the art of not thinking about anything is not easy to achieve. Even practising…

    Read More





The Balanced Life



The Balanced Toolkit



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:



Support This Site