Atomic Habits Summary (8/10)

Atomic Habits by James Clear is a concise guide to breaking bad habits and implementing new ones. It is essentially a compilation of psychological tricks that you can use to help you in your fight against yourself.

How to create a good habit?

1. Make It Obvious

  1. Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
  2. Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
  3. Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
  4. Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.

2. Make It Attractive

  1. Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
  2. Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
  3. Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.

3. Make It Easy

  1. Reduce friction. Make it easier to do your habits.
  2. Prime the environment. Design your environment to help rather than impede your.
  3. Master the decisive moment. Look for small actions that create big outcomes.
  4. Use the Two-Minute Rule. Make your habits simple to implement.
  5. Automate your habits. Use technology to your advantage.

4. Make It Satisfying

  1. Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
  2. Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.
  3. Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.”
  4. Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.

Never stop. Small habits compound.

The four stages of habit-building

You do not crave smoking a cigarette, you crave the feeling of relief it provides.

If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit.

  1. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start.
  2. Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act.
  3. Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it.
  4. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future.

Chapter 1

Systems over goals make habits stick. Goals to set a direction, systems to make progress.

Goals get you temporary results, systems get your permanent results.

Ex: I want to lose 10 lbs. Don’t set a target, change the way you live.

Chapter 2

Change your identity to change your habit (I am an ex-smoker).

Progress requires unlearning.

Chapter 3

Do habits make life dull? Do they restrict freedom? No, they create it.

Every craving is linked to a desire to change your internal state (cigarettes: relax, TV: entertainment).

Chapter 5

Habit stacking: Pair new habits you want to form with old habits you already have.

Chapter 6

Redesign environment. Make the cues of your preferred habits more obvious (set apples in accessible locations rather than store them in the fridge if your goal is to eat more apples).

Give each habit a home. Phone: social media. Computer: writing. Chair: reading.

Chapter 7

People with the best self-control need to practice it the least. Best way to be disciplined? Don’t put yourself in situations that require use of willpower.

Cue induced wanting: worry about health, causes anxiety. Anxiety causes you to smoke. Smoking causes more anxiety. Cycle repeats.

Chapter 8

If history is instructive, we should expect more intense rewards in the future, and more enticing stimulants.

Junk food more intense than natural food.

Hard liquor more intense than beer.

Video game more intense than board game.

Temptation bundling: Pair things you want to do with things you have to do. If you know you must work out, but you also would like to hear a podcast, then pair the activities together.

Chapter 11

Motion vs Progress: You can fool yourself into thinking you are making progress by setting something in motion (ex: I came up with a new idea for the book, rather than write the book).

Chapter 12

Business is a never ending process that delivers the same result with less difficulty.

Chapter 14

Sunk cost for behavioral change: To create a habit, pre-commit. Pay for a gym membership before you go to the gym.

One-time choices — repeated results.

Nutrition: Water filter (clean water). Smaller plates (less calories).

Sleep: Good mattress, remove TV, blackout curtains.

Productivity: Unsubscribe from emails, turn off notifications, mute group chats, delete games and social media.

Health : Shoes to avoid backpain. Standing desk. Get vaccinated.

Finance: Enroll in auto-savings plan, set-up automated bill payments, call service provider, ask for lower price.

Tech: disable auto-play (YouTube), schedule infrequent reminders on digital calendar. Ex: Re-evaluate investment portfolio.

Chapter 16

Track habits. It keeps you motivated to stick to the process.

Chapter 17

Create a habit contract to attach an immediate cost to any bad habit.

Chapter 18

If winning, exploit.

If losing, explore.

Combine skills, stack your habits. Scott Adams is somewhat funny, and is an above average writer, who can also draw relatively well. Result? Unique product: Dilbert comics.

Change the game to suit your strengths.

Chapter 19

Success doesn’t come from motivation or hype, but from persistence through boredom and drudgery.

Chapter 20

At some point, you must re-evaluate your habits. Strike the right balance.

Review habits too frequently is overkill. You miss the big picture.

Never review habits? Blind to important details that are holding you back.

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