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Summary of Atomic Habits
In Atomic Habits, James Clear explains how and why the majority of people who try to change their habits often fail.
He highlights the importance of tiny changes, small wins, and 1% improvements to improve and create new good habits, as well as useful ways to remove bad habits.
5 Key Takeaways
1. Building a habit is easy if it’s based around your identity
2. The ability of just showing up is important
3. Make good habits easy and satisfying
4. Relying on motivation doesn’t work
5. Cue – Desire – Response – Reward
The 4 Laws Of Habit Stacking
The 1st Law: Make it Obvious
- Complete the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them
- Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]”
- Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]”
- Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive
- Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do
- Join a culture where your desired behaviour is normal
- Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit
The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
- Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits
- Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier
- Master the decisive moment. Optimise the small choices that deliver out sized impact
- Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less
- Automate your habits. Invest in technology and one-time purchases that lock in future behaviour
The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying
- Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit
- Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits
- Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain”
- Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately
Techniques To Build Good Habits
Habit Stacking – stack new habits with existing good ones. For example, after a run I will eat a healthy meal, after a healthy meal I will drink a glass of water
Make it Attractive – a revised version of habit stacking. Instead of randomly stacking habits, James Clear suggests you add a new habit with habits you are looking forward to.
For example, after finishing writing an article, I will go out with friends.
One space one use – if one of your habits is to start reading, it is better to have a dedicated space where you will read.
The association of that space and reading will help to form the habit.
Pointing and calling – this is when you stack a habit and say it out loud when you do it.
This technique is especially useful for trying to eliminate bad habits.
For example, next time you pick up a cigarette, say out loud “I am going to smoke”.
Habit Contract – take accountability and tell a friend you are going to do something and if you fail to do it you will give them £100.
By creating accountability you are more likely to succeed.
Use Friction to your advantage – keep the good habit triggers in front of you and put the bad habit triggers somewhere you cant see them as easily:
- Leave books lying around
- Put your gym by the front door
- Put your cigarettes in a drawer
- Take the TV out of your bedroom
Atomic habits is a really refreshing read and will open up your eyes to how habits exist and what we can do to create new ones and break bad ones.