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Atomic Habits by James Clear – Neen’s summary

By May 20, 2023May 31st, 2023No Comments
Atomic Habits by James Clear review by Neen James
Atomic Habits is dog-eared, highlighted, and regularly read in my life.
James has created an easy-to-follow guide emphasizing that tiny changes will achieve remarkable results. He shares an easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones.
Here’s a random (long) list of my favorite ideas that I enjoyed and thought you might too:
  • Dopamine is experienced when you experience pleasure and when you anticipate it
  • Forget about goals; focus on systems
  • Habits become part of your identity
  • Your identity is your ‘repeated beingness”
  • Habits free up mental capacity
  • A formula for helping habit stacking: After I (INSERT) … I will (INSERT) habit stacking
  • Create obvious visual cues
  • Structure your life that doesn’t need superhero willpower
  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
  • Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply when you feed it.
  • Your work is not wasted; it’s being stored.
  • Mastery requires patience.
  • All big things come from small beginnings.
  • The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.
  • And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.
  • Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
  • Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.
  • We need to change the systems that cause those results.
  • If you are having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system.
  • You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
  • Atomic habit refers to a tiny change, a marginal gain, a 1 percent improvement.
  • Habits are like the atoms of our lives.
  • Atomic habits are a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power” a component of the system of compound growth.
  • Old identity can sabotage their new plans for change.
  • The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity.
  • Once your pride gets involved, you’ll fight tooth and nail to maintain your habits.
  • Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity.
  • The real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way.
  • Your habits are how you embody your identity – when you train each day you embody the identity of an athletic person.
  • Your identity is literally your ‘repeated beingness’
  • Every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become.
  • Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity.
  • Each time you start a workout, you are an athlete
  • Decide the type of person you want to be
  • Prove it to yourself with small wins.
  • What would a healthy person do?
  • Identity change is the north star of habit change.
  • You need to know who you want to be.
  • You have the power to change your beliefs about yourself.
  • Who are you becoming?
  • There are three levels of change: outcome change, process change, and identity change.
  • The most effective way to change your habits is to focus on who you wish to become.
  • Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
  • Continuously edit your beliefs.
  • A habit is a behavior repeated enough times to become automatic.
  • Habits are mental shortcuts learned from experience.
  • Habit formation is useful because the conscious mind is the bottleneck of the brain. It can only pay attention to one problem at a time. Your brain is always working to reserve your conscious attention for whatever task is most essential.
  • Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity so you can allocate your attention to other tasks
  • Your mind is free to focus on new challenges
  • Cue is the first indication close to a reward
  • Cravings are the second step and they are the motivational force behind every habit.
  • What you crave is not the habit itself but the change it delivers.
  • The first purpose of rewards is to satisfy your cravings.
  • The process of behavior change always starts with awareness.
    Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing.
Whenever you want to change your behavior 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?
The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life iwth as little energy and effort as possible.
  • Make it obvious
  • Before we can effectively build new habits, we need to get a handle on our current ones.
  • Pointing-and-calling is so effective because it raises the level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level.
  • Consider saying: “Eating it will cause me to gain weight and hurt my health”
  • Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.
  • Hearing your bad habits spoken aloud makes the consequences seem more real.
Habits are simply, reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment.
Habit Stacking
  • Identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.
  • Habit stacking is a special form of implementation intention.
  • e.g., After I pour my cup of coffee each morning I will meditate for a minute
  • After I take off my work shoes, I will change into my workout gear.
  • The key is to tie your desired behavior into something you already do daily.
  • Every habit is context-dependent.
  • The most powerful of all human sensory abilities is vision.
  • Small changes in what you SEE can lead to a BIG shift in what you do. i.e., if you want to drink more water, fill up bottles each morning and place them in a common location
  • Stop thinking about your environment as filled with objects. Start thinking about it as filled with relationships.
  • It’s easier to associate a new habit with a new context than to build a new habit in the face of competing cues.
  • One space, one use.
  • Every habit should have a home.
  • A stable environment where everything has a place and a purpose is an environment where habits can easily form.
  • Small changes in context can lead to large changes in behavior over time.
  • Every habit is initiated by a cue.
  • Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment
  • Gradually your habits become associated with a single trigger
  • Disciplined people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. They spend less time in tempting situations.
  • The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the lease.
  • Once a habit is formed it’s unlikely to be forgotten.
  • Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one.
  • Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop.
  • Dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure but when you anticipate it.
  • We need to make our habits attractive because it is the expectation of a rewarding experience that motivates us to act in the first place.
  • Temptation bundling works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
We imitate the habits of three groups:
  1. The close
  2. the many
  3. the powerful
  • We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us.
  • Nothing sustains a motivation better than belonging to the tribe. It transforms a personal quest into a shared one.
  • The shared identity begins to reinforce your personal identity.
  • If a behavior can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.
  • A craving is just a specific manifestation of a deeper underlying motive. A craving is something that is missing.
  • You can make hard habits more attractive if you can learn to associate them with a positive experience.
  • Reframing habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawback is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive.
  • The key to fixing and finding the causes of your bad habits is to reframe the associations you have about them.
  • Motion makes you feel like you’re getting things done. But really you’re just preparing to get something done.
  • You don’t want to be merely planning. You want to be practicing.
  • To master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection.
  • Focus on taking action, not being in motion.
  • Habit formation is the process by which a behavior becomes progressively more automatic through repetition.
  • Energy is precious, and the brain is wired to conserve it – we naturally gravitate to the option that requires the least amount of work.
  • If you make your good habits more convenient you’ll be more likely to follow through on them.
  • Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible.
  • Make good habits the path of least resistance.
  • It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habituates it – makes it repeatable.
  • Little choices are decisive moments
  • When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.
  • You have to standardize before you can optimize.
  • The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely you can slip into a state of deep focus that it is easy to do great things.
  • They reinforce the identity you want to build.

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