Atomic Habits (James Clear)

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework to help you make little improvements every day. James Clear is one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, and in this New York Times bestseller, he 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 results.

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No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework to help you make little improvements every day. James Clear is one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, and in this New York Times bestseller, he 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 results.

If 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 heights, and Atomic Habits will give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits and your life.

 

Show notes

In this episode, you’ll learn...

  • A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly, and often automatically.  Small but consistent habits can lead to results that were unimaginable when you first start—that’s the atomic portion: changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick to them for years.

  • Success is the product of daily habits not once in a lifetime transformations

  • You get what you repeat.  Habits can compound for OR against you

  • Forget about goals; focus on systems instead. Here’s why:

    • Winners and losers have the same goals

    • Achieving a goal is only a momentary change

    • Goals restrict your happiness

  • There are 3 levels of change: outcome change, process change, identity change. Focus not on what you want to change, but who you want to become.

  • Any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves 4 steps: cue, craving, response, reward.

  • The 4 Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits:

    • Make it obvious  / invisible

    • Make it attractive  / unattractive

    • Make it easy  / difficult

    • Make it satisfying  / unsatisfying

  • The 1st Law: Make it Obvious (or Invisible)

    • Behavior change always starts with awareness; create a Habits Scorecard (see “Bookmarked activity” below for details)

    • Two most common cues are time and location

    • To make the cue of time obvious, try habit stacking, a strategy to pair a new habit with a current habit (on top of a habit or in between existing habits). Formula: After CURRENT HABIT I will NEW HABIT

    • Make cues of good habits obvious in your environment (or invisible, if you’re trying to break a bad habit!)

  • The 2nd Law: Make it Attractive (or Unattractive)

    • Add dopamine! When dopamine rises so does your motivation to act

    • Pair an action you want to do with one you need to do

    • Bundle habit stacking with temptation. Formula: After [CURRENT HABIT] I will [HABIT I NEED] \ After [HABIT I NEED] I will [HABIT I WANT]

    • We tend to imitate habits of our social groups: the close, the many, the powerful

    • To build better habits, join a culture where 1) your desired behavior is normal; 2) you already have something in common with the group

    • Every behavior has a surface level craving that is a manifestation of a deeper underlying motive. What you really want is to feel different.

  • The 3rd Law: Make it Easy (or Difficult)

    • Focus on taking action (not “planning” or “strategizing”—that’s procrastination!)

    • The number of times you have performed a habit is more important than the amount of time.

    • We naturally gravitate toward action of least effort. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible

    • Make it as easy as possible to start.  The actions that follow may be challenging but the first two minutes—the gateway habit—should be easy.  When you start a new habit it should take less than two minutes to do

    • Show up; it is better to do less than nothing at all

    • Use commitment devices: a choice in the present to lock in better behavior in the future (i.e. at 10pm a timer cuts off internet)

  • The 4th Law: Make it Satisfying (or Unsatisfying)

    • The other laws increase odds you’ll do it this time.  This law increases the odds you’ll do it again

    • The human brain prioritizes immediate rewards over delayed; work with human nature, not against it, by making good habits satisfying

    • A habit tracker is a simple way to measure your habits—and make them more satisfying—by providing clear evidence of your progress

    • Never miss twice

    • You’re less likely to repeat a bad habit if its painful or unsatisfying (i.e. a bad grade, bad review, late fee). To stop bad habits, create a system of punishment that’s painful enough and reliably enforced—like with an accountability partner

  • Advanced Tactics

    • Choose the right field of competition for you

    • Stay motivated by working on habits/tasks that are right on the edge of your current abilities—4% beyond your current ability is show to be that FLOW state

    • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way. Pros feel the same lack of motivation, they just do it anyway

    • Establish a system for reflection and review. An annual review and an integrity review 6 months later can help you reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how you’re sticking to your goals. You can also us this opportunity to tally the number of times you stuck to your habits and celebrate your accomplishments!


Bookmarked activity

Create a Habits Scorecard for yourself

The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise to become more aware of your behavior—good and bad. Start by making a list of your daily habits.  Include every little detail, for example: “Wake up, turn on bedside table lamp, go to bathroom, wash face, etc.” Then, review and note: is this a good, neutral or bad habit?  Assign a + = - sign to each. If you’re not sure, ask, “Does this habit help me become the type of person I want to be?” Then, think about what new habits you might stack with your old habits to add positive habits or replace bad habits.  Feel free to add temptation if it will help, like, “After I see a text alert on my phone, I will do 5 pushups. After I do 5 pushups, I will read my texts!”


Create a Habit Tracker

Once you have identified new habits in your routine, decide which you want to track.  Remember, the third law of habit change: make it easy! One habit is easier to track than ten.  Then, choose how you are going to track each one when you’ve done it. A next step to this might be to commit to doing this for one month, and then reflect on your progress and see how you want to refine from there.



Other fun stuff referenced

  • Done, the free app Melissa enjoys using for habit tracking

Share your takeaways

If you’ve read this book, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know if you’ve started new habits or stopped bad habits by emailing us at hello@booksmartpodcast.com. You can also leave us a voicemail at 929-515-BOOK. That’s 929-515-BOOK (2665).

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Emily Hammel-ShaverEP 04