In an episode of the North Star Podcast with David Perrell, the software entrepreneur Daniel Gross said something that I thought was very wise The definition of a habit, for me, is something that doesn t require willpower How can I build a large collection of habits that are healthy that are correct and save them to RAM in my head so that I don t have to think about them I would like to have that done by the end of my 20s I d like to be in a good place in terms of body composition, in terms of what I eat, in terms of how I work, so that I can spend the rest of my life not thinking about that stuff.I heard this a few weeks before the New Year, and I got to thinking about which habits I might want to build or break in 2019 I found the perfect companion to this reflection in James Clear s new book, Atomic Habits An Easy and Proven Way to Break Bad Habits Build Good Ones.The motivating idea behind the book is that habits are the compound interest of behaviour Get 1% better each day and you will rarely notice a change on any given day, but by the end of a year you will be 38% better than when you started 1.01 365 37.8 It s often not possible or useful to try to quantify your skill level maybe you just want to remember to floss but the insight is that huge long term differences can be born from barely perceptible but consistent short term differences Hence, atomic habits pennies that grow into a fortune.Clear explains that all habits, good or bad, play out in four stages The cue You perceive a specific signal You see cookies on the kitchen table The craving You feel a rush of desire for a specific reward Your mouth starts watering as you imagine the chocolate chips melting in your mouth The response You perform an action You pick up a cookie and bite into it The reward You experience pleasure as your desire is satisfied Your taste buds send gushing thank you notes up to your brain.Each stage of this cycle is a lever you can pull to influence your behaviour To build a good habit, pull them one way to break a bad one, pull them the other way This is the essence of Clear s method.To build a good habit Make it obvious the cue Make it attractive the craving Make it easy the response Make it satisfying the reward To break a bad habit Make it invisible the cue Make it unattractive the craving Make it hard the response Make it unsatisfying the reward The book is broken into four sections, one for each stage of the habit cycle Each chapter begins with a short vignette about a historical figure, and then dives into a related piece of advice If you ve done some thinking or reading about habit formation before, then you might be familiar with many of these ideas already This was the case for me However, even if you feel like you know the landscape well, I think you would find at least one actionable idea in the book For the rest of this post, I ll describe the ideas that I ve implemented myself since reading it.Habit stackingOne of the easiest ways to build a new habit is to attach it to an existing one By resolving to start performing a new habit directly following another one that is already ingrained, you turn the old habit s reward into the new habit s cue you make it obvious After enough repetitions, the new habit is woven into your life.Last year, I developed a stable habit of doing push ups and kettlebell swings after every 25 minute work block throughout my workday When I read about habit stacking, I recognized an opportunity to use these existing habits as foundations for a new one drinking water Now, every time I do my push ups and kettlebell swings, I drink a small glass of water I m hydrated than ever.Implementation intentionsIn a study, two groups were asked to make to do lists, but one group was given a small tweak that resulted in them accomplishing many tasks than the other They were told to write down with each task the time and location where they intended to complete it They created an implementation intention This is another way to make a behaviour obvious, this time by associating the action with a context that can be perceived as the cue.I ve started writing down implementation intentions every time I add an item to my to do list Instead of Call the bank to order a new debit card, it s Call the bank to order a new debit card in the living room on Saturday morning While there are still plenty of overdue tasks on my to do list, this new habit of writing down where and when I intend to complete each task has helped me cross a number of them off.Prime your environmentI first learned the value of this lesson three years ago when I lived in a tiny coach house in Welland, Ontario I had always struggled to get out of bed on time, but I was teaching courses of my own for the first time and couldn t afford to be late for class So I came up with a solution Each night before bed, I prepared my stovetop espresso maker and put it on the stove, alongside a clean mug and my phone my alarm When my alarm started ringing, I had to get out of bed and walk over to the stove to turn it off Immediately, I would turn on the stove element and go back to bed for a snooze Ten minutes later I would be woken again by the gurgling of the espresso, as well as the fear that it would boil over if I didn t get up to turn off the element My reward for getting up the second time was a fresh cup of coffee Ever since then I ve been completely cured of my snoozing habit.As Clear explains, priming your environment for its next use is a great way to make a desirable behaviour obvious as well as easier After reflecting on this, I ve been experimenting with a few changes Pumping up my bike tires as soon as I get home from my evening bike commute This makes it easier to choose the bike as my mode of transport the next day Repacking my gym bag as soon as I get home from the gym This makes it easier to go for a work out whenever I feel like it Filling up a big water jug next to my desk at the end of each work day This makes it easier to stay hydrated the next day Note that putting the water jug there also makes my drinking habit obvious Placing a novel on my pillow after making my bed each morning I m trying to build the habit of reading fiction before bed because I find that it helps me sleep Make it smallI ve used various habit trackers for about four years now, and I ve just about settled on TaskLife as my favourite I define a list of behaviours, and each day the app asks me whether I ve done them The beauty of it is that I can choose the frequency with which I want to perform each task, as well as the time period over which to calculate that frequency It s like Andy Matuschak s system of smoothly ratcheting targets with teeth, minus a bit of smoothness and all the teeth.The most common reason that I ve failed to hit my target frequency has been the size of my tasks they have been too hard For example, it s often hard to find the time and motivation for one full hour of writing, so I would often skip that habit Even before reading Atomic Habits, I had recognized this problem and made some changes, like cutting 60 minutes of writing down to 10 But Clear offered many ways to break down a complex or challenging behaviour into a task that can be completed in under two minutes Since getting started is by far the hardest part of most habits, I decided to change all my habits in TaskLife to 2 minutes or under tasks as a way of making it easier to spend time on the things that matter to me Here is the current list of questions that TaskLife asks me each morning about my previous day, along with the frequency with which I aim to complete those tasks over a rolling window of 21 days Did you study at least one flashcard 70% Did you read at least one page of fiction 70% Did you write at least one sentence 55% Did you read at least one Pocket article 50% Did you play at least one chord on the guitar 50% Did you write at least one sentence in your journal 50% Did you go to bed by 9 30pm 50% Did you send at least one message to a friend 50% Did you read at least one page of nonfiction 40% Did you walk through the doors of the gym 25% Automate itLastly, the easiest way to make a task easier is to delegate it to a machine As a data scientist, I have obviously implemented this one before, too I ve automated my health insurance payments, my donations to charity, my bus pass top ups, my memorization efforts, my sleep tracking, my exercise tracking, and my rebalancing calculations in my investment accounts But there are always things to automate, and Clear s chapter on the subject got me to reflect on what else I could do Since reading the chapter, I ve set up automatic payments on all of my regular bills, and on my to do list with an implementation intention is the task of setting up automatic monthly transfers into my investment accounts.In summary, I highly recommend Atomic Habits If the topic of habit formation is new to you, I think this book is probably the best general resource you ll find And if the topic is already familiar, you ll find that the book is a quick and engaging read with dozens of fresh ideas that you can consider implementing in your life. This is a dual review of two books about habit Habits are important things in one s life and there are numerous books on the subject The classic book, a must read, is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey Another two popular books about habits are The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear, that came out very recently Having read all three of them I combined my notes for the last two in this post No matter what stage in life you are, it is always good to review one s habits and behaviour these books provide a good framework for doing it.One of the habits I m struggling with is to get rid of the reading of self help books Thus, reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and parallelly Atomic Habits by James Clear became a sort of a meta enterprise Would these self help books about habits help me to get rid of the habit of reading self help books There s nothing wrong with the self help genre per se I believe, everybody should strive to become a better version of themselves Evidently, there s a lot of great wisdom in this type of books many prominent figured refer to them when they tell the story of their success However, having read tons of them, one would usually circle around the same known stuff and shabby ideas wrapped in different narratives and supported by different anecdotes The trick here is to know when to stop and, actually, go out and do something by using the knowledge and inspiration gained.My own habit of falling back to self help books is, obviously, grounded in the alluring products of the habit loop driven by the craving for knowledge on self improvement We can use the basic members of the habit loop cue, routine, and reward well covered in the Duhigg s book and analyse the situation with the reading of self help books For this type of products, the cues triggers are everywhere, and who can ignore the wish for excellence Then, the routine is easily carried out the messages in those books are straightforward that doesn t require a very deep thinking and reading between the lines It just assumes the acceptance in many cases, and, finally, the reward is instant the feeling of getting something very valuable a digested wisdom and not seldom a bit of inspiration It can be compared to junk food which by the way is almost gone from my life thanks to this kind of books However, my point is not to pick on this genre, but rather to stress the importance of not getting stuck in it, as in my previous point Habit as a phenomena humans and other living creatures are equipped with is one of my favourite subjects I strongly believe, in the end, habits defines us and our destiny The subject of habit covers several interesting areas as neuroscience, biology, psychology, and The basic mechanics of habit system can be described through the theory of operand conditioning, a term coined by B.F Skinner back in 1930 It is a technique of learning that occurs through reward and punishment for behaviour Through operand conditioning, an individual makes an association between a behaviour and a consequence A relatively simple feedback loop forming habits of an individual can be described in terms of drive, stimulus, response, reward with different kind of reinforcers positive or negative What was lacking in the model of operand conditioning was other influencers like feelings, thoughts, and, very importantly beliefs Moreover, human behaviour is so complex that factors as the environment and group psychology are of crucial importance when it comes to the habit science Modern behavioural science takes these terms into account and they are very important in the habit theory The authors of both books did a great job addressing these factors in their respective methodologies.Based on the early theory of operand conditioning, different models around habits and behaviour in my interpretation, behaviour is a series of actions evoked by habits are developed and fundamental terms are just called different names Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit grounds his model on the habit loop consisting of cue routine reward parameters which are driven by craving James Clear in Atomic Habits suggests his model consisting of four steps called cue, craving, response, and reward These factors are systematically analysed by respective author and the steps how to build good habits and remove the bad ones based on these models are suggested In both books I found some valuable and interesting points as well as good tips on how to keep one s habits on the right track.As one can see from the parameters in each model, there s a difference in the arrangement of them making some differences in application of the methodologies of habit treatment Duhigg sees the term craving as a driving force for the members in the habit loop cue, routine, reward Clear suggests that craving is simply a second stage in his model of habit This is the main difference, and I need to admit I haven t put enough time to analyse which model is right both make sense We would need some deeper diving in relevant disciplines and get help from ontology of the actual things here Anyhow, I tend to believe that a craving lies above cue, routine, and reward Cues alone without craving are meaningless Nevertheless, both models are very useful for working on one s habits Duhigg argues that the way of changing or replacing of habit is to focus on the routine parameter, or the response part according to the terminology or Clear Clear gives a lot of examples on how the cue and reward steps can be worked on I completely agree that even these parts can be influenced, whereas Duhigg argues that the most important thing is to focus on routine leaving cues and rewards unchanged I believe, we can remove unwanted triggers Like making the tempting things like candies hard to reach and out of sight, etc This has been well researched in a very interesting work by Richard H Thaler for which he was awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2017 Then, we can reprogram our brain to think about rewards differently change the mode of them or reinforce the distant rewards requiring immediate sacrifice by some direct reward Clear has a lot of good examples how to do it.Habit should be seen as one of the essential parts forming an individual A brilliant quote by Margaret Thatcher shows the operational importance of habits Watch your thoughts, for they will become actions Watch your actions, for they ll become habits Watch your habits for they will forge your character Watch your character, for it will make your destiny If we put those terms it in a different order, we can see that habits are very important, perhaps important than one s thoughts, because they are operational tools defining which actions one will take and what destiny those actions will form.In summary, if you are somehow unsatisfied with any of your habits and would like to actively and effectively change them and thus become an individual you d like to be, I strongly recommend both books I would read The Power of Habit book first, this book is longer, has stories, and has research behind it Atomic Habits book is easier to get through, especially after reading Duhigg s book Both books, as you might have guessed, are clear, easy to read and grasp They will give you the right mindset to approach your behaviour and provide valuable tools to shape your personality. The Instant New York Times Bestseller Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results No Matter Your Goals, Atomic Habits Offers A Proven Framework For Improving Every Day James Clear, One Of The World S Leading Experts On Habit Formation, Reveals Practical Strategies That Will Teach You Exactly How To Form Good Habits, Break Bad Ones, And Master The Tiny Behaviors That Lead To Remarkable ResultsIf You Re Having Trouble Changing Your Habits, The Problem Isn T You The Problem Is Your System Bad Habits Repeat Themselves Again And Again Not Because You Don T Want To Change, But Because You Have The Wrong System For Change You Do Not Rise To The Level Of Your Goals You Fall To The Level Of Your Systems Here, You Ll Get A Proven System That Can Take You To New HeightsClear Is Known For His Ability To Distill Complex Topics Into Simple Behaviors That Can Be Easily Applied To Daily Life And Work Here, He Draws On The Most Proven Ideas From Biology, Psychology, And Neuroscience To Create An Easy To Understand Guide For Making Good Habits Inevitable And Bad Habits Impossible Along The Way, Readers Will Be Inspired And Entertained With True Stories From Olympic Gold Medalists, Award Winning Artists, Business Leaders, Life Saving Physicians, And Star Comedians Who Have Used The Science Of Small Habits To Master Their Craft And Vault To The Top Of Their FieldLearn How To Make Time For New Habits Even When Life Gets Crazy Overcome A Lack Of Motivation And Willpower Design Your Environment To Make Success Easier Get Back On Track When You Fall Off Course And Much Atomic Habits Will Reshape The Way You Think About Progress And Success, And Give You The Tools And Strategies You Need To Transform Your Habits Whether You Are A Team Looking To Win A Championship, An Organization Hoping To Redefine An Industry, Or Simply An Individual Who Wishes To Quit Smoking, Lose Weight, Reduce Stress, Or Achieve Any Other Goal My 2019 girl boss recommendation Habits do not restrict freedom They create it Building habits in the present allows you to do of what you want in the future This book has helped me build a productive morning routine and I love it Being a morning person has always been a struggle for me, but this book gives you very clear and very easy steps to create the life you ve always imagined When going through your daily habits, ask yourself, Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity Being mindful about your day to day activities will open up so many doors This is truly such a life changing book This is basically reinforcement for Duhigg s books on habits There is some good advice get rid of obstacles, use cues of things you like to do with things you need to do i.e., everytime you check facebook, do pushups or whatever It s good advice, but nothing new or unique. TLDR You do not rise to the level of your goals You fall to the level of your systems The best way of building a habit is making it part of your identity Make it easy to start Habits are the entry point not the goal Read 30 books Read before bed every night Read one page Reduce a habit into a 2 minute first step Stick to the plan Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way Don t be a fair weather runner if you want to run a lot Make it hard to do the things you want to avoid.Most modern American self help books for engineers or entrepreneurs it is a category for me are too repetitive and too long Atomic Habits is not It does have the category required set of stories of American mostly men who built a great habit and got to the top but just the right amount NOTES Identity The three levels of change the lower the fundamental 3 Outcomes Your goals 2 Processes Your system1 Identity Who you perceive yourself to beMake every action is a vote for what kind of person you want to become Building habits is becoming the version of yourself you want to be Habits help you to trust yourself Realize that You don t have to do anything, you get to Ask What would a healthy person do Ask What feel like fun to you, but is work to others Engineer it so that Things you want to achieve vs Things you want to avoidObvious InvisibleAttractive UnattractiveEasy HardSatisfying SatisfyingFor example if you want to watch less TV keep it unplugged only plugin if you can say out loud the name of the show you want to watch. This book is what I expected The power of habit to be Where TPOH mostly is a collection of stories anecdotes, Atomic Habits actually goes over practical ways of implementing your own system It s great Here s to stop reading and to start doing Enjoyed this one much than The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, as it s to the point Some great takeaways and excellent reminders Each chapter succinctly summarized at the end, very quotable Highly recommend 1 Sentence Summary Atomic Habits is the definitive guide to break bad behaviors and adopt good ones in four steps, showing you how small, incremental, everyday routines compound and add up to massive, positive change over time via Four Minute Books excellent review.Favorite QuotesEvery action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity You do not rise to the level of your goals You fall to the level of your systems When you can t win by being better, you can win by being different Before starting this book, write down some good habits you want to build and some bad habits you want to break This book is filled with practical steps and examples Yes, there are plenty of habit building books out there just as there are plenty of diet books but yet there s still new books published every year Plenty of people are seeking the right book that resonates with them The key points in this book are Compound Effect Very small changes over time will have a big impact Habit Building Techniques Make good habits into routines use positive reinforcements and other techniques outlined in the book Monitor and Measure Keep track of your progress and improvements. I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway yesterday and immediately settled down to read it I am always very skeptical of self help books because they often do no get to the root of issues This one did James Clear s main arguments are that habits are the compound interest of self improvement and that your identify emerges out of your habits So, you must expereince a shift in identity for your habits to hold This made a lot of sense to me, but I do think that Clear should have addresses deeper emotional issues and gave readers resources so as not to mislead them into believing that they can change their identity by action repeating new habits alone.
James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits An Easy Proven Way to Build Good Habits Break Bad Ones He writes about habits, decision making, and continuous improvement at jamesclear.com His website receives millions of visitors each month and hundreds of thousands subscribe to his popular email newsletter.His work has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Time, and on CBS Thi
- Kindle Edition
- 319 pages
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
- James Clear
- 27 August 2018 James Clear