Summary of James Clear: Atomic Habits

This is not someone, somewhere got benefitted by Atomic Habits. Trusted sources of mine, with whom Iam working with, shared this below experience.

“I have implemented habit stacking and starting a new habit for 2 mins , this has helped , so I added reading a few pages every day after my habit of brushing my teeth in morning and also doing 2 min of pranayama after reading. This helped me build this habit now for 2 months with just 1–2 days break.”

“I use the concept around dissociation with labels,eg i am a foodie, which makes it easier for me to separate myself and my likes”

“small wins help. focus on the system and not the goal helps. I have started some small changes via atomic habits, need to channelize them”

“something which has worked for me is not directly from Atomic Habits but from a lifestyle coach — Luke Coutinho whom I have been following for some time but James Clear reinforced it through his “not focusing on goal but rather focus on system and making it part of your identity” … Luke talks about “small wins” i.e., rather than a big bang, start slow increasing the frequency as you go along … so instead of saying “I will exercise everyday”, start with “I will exercise 5 days a week” so you have 2 days buffer even if you miss it for a day or two, you still have motivation to hit your target … similarly, instead of thinking I will do 1 hour gym each day, start with 15–30 minutes and incrementally increase so brain has time to process and make it a habit … part which James Clear talks about is rather than focusing on “losing 5 kgs”, focus on 30 minutes exercise or having 1 healthy meal a day etc.. Other thing I have been implementing from Atomic Habits is making the distance between good habit and you shorter and that between bad habit and you longer — so I keep my workout clothes, shoes and yoga mat all ready the night before so it’s easy to get to it. Also, have stopped buying junk snacks so nothing is there even when I feel like eating … I’ve been following these since past 6ish months and it has been going much better than many unsuccessful attempts in previous many years …””

  • ** Special thank to my friends who had shared these thoughts and this also helped me to continue reading this book — Atomic habits by James Clear***

David Brailsford- Coach for British cycling team — ” the whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike and then improve it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together “.

1% better every day! For one years it’s 37.78 (1.01 365)

Wow — Habits are compound interest of self improvement

Success is Product of daily habits — not once in a lifetime transformation

Cancer. Bamboo. All these like habits. Unknown/unseen until a threshold point is reached! Then growth explodes.

Mastery requires patience.

Forget about Goals. Focus on the system instead. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.

Becoming best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit tour beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.

Your identity is “repeated beingness” in Latin.

Identity change is the North Star of your habit change. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

Outcome change, process change and identity change .

Chapter 3: 4 simple steps

Cue, craving , response and reward

Cue — cue triggers the brain for a behaviour to initiate

Craving — they are motivational force behind each habit.

Response- this is the actual habit you perform either thought or action.

Reward- end goal of habit.

Cue — Noticing the reward, crave — wanting the rewards , response — obtaining the reward.

Reward closes the feedback loop. Habit loop is formed like this in 4 steps.

Good habit :

Make it obvious (cue)

Make it attractive (craving )

Make it easy (response)

Make it satisfying ( reward)

Bad habit : break it

Make it invisible

Make it unattractive

Make it difficult

Make it unsatisfying

— -

Strategies : Point and calling. habit scorecard

(Effective or not effective for now )

Chapter 5: The best way to start a New habit

Implementation Intention:

“when situation X arises, I will perform response Y”

Habit Stacking :

French philosopher: Denis Diderot , 1765. The tendency for one purchase to lead to another one has a name : Diderot effect. Classic example- customer who bought this, bought this item also (Amazon)

Habit Stacking formula is

After [ current habit ], I will [ New Habit]

Eg: After I pour my coffee in the cup, I will meditate for one min.

Chapter 6: Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more

  • design your environment- if you want to learn music, keep the guitar/keyboard visible

A stable environment where everything has a place and purpose is an environment where habits thrive

Chapter 7: Secret to Self control

It’s easier to avoid temptation than resisting it.

Self control is a short term strategy. Not long term.

2nd LAW: make it attractive

Chapter 8; how to make a habit irresistible

Dopamine — is released not when the pleasure is experienced , but also when you anticipate it.

Temptation Building — create a heightened version of any habit by connecting it with something you already want. Strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

Eg: ten sit ups if you want to check face book

Chapter 9: The role of family and friends in shaping your habits.

We imitate the habits of three groups in particular:

  1. The close

3. Imitating the powerful : We continuously wonder “what will others think of me” . If a behavior can get us approval, respect praise , we find it attractive

Join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is normal behavior (2) you already have something in common with the group

Chapter 10: How to find and fix the causes of your bad habits.

A craving is just a specific manifestation of deeper underlying motive. Craving is the sense that something is missing. It is the desire to change your internal state.

Your habits are modern day solutions to ancient desires. You see a cue, categorise it based on past experiences, and determine the appropriate response.

Binge eating , social media, potato chips or any other Acts. What you really want is to feel different

Change your inner voice : “ you don’t have to . You get to “

You get to Wake up early for work. Eg: instead of “ I need to go run in the morning” say “it’s time to build endurance and get fast “

Motivation ritual: Do what you want , cue with what you have to do! Eg : wear headphones to write.

Chapter 11: Walk slowly, but never Backward.

Motion and action: eg- keep reading about diet plan is motion. Actually following is the Action.

To produce an outcome, you need to take action.

New habits are formed by repetitions. It’s the frequency which makes the difference. Over a period of Of time it become automatic.

Chapter 12: The law of least effort.

The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is was easy as possible.

Same for removing the habits also. More effort to do a work, less option to do it again. Eg: remove all unwanted cookies and chips from counter, if you do not want to eat mindlessly

Chapter 13: How to stop procrastinating by using the two-minute rule.

First two minute is the ritual for the Habit. Read a book.. instead say “Read a page”. Habit is entry way to Highway.

Standardize before to optimize. Breakdown the habit to 120 seconds.

Chapter 14: making good habits inevitable and bad impossible.

Use commitment devices. Eg : use an adapter to cut off router at 10pm. Everyone knows it’s time to go to Bed.

Victor Hugo example of writing the book before feb 1831. He packed all his clothes so that he cannot socialiZe. Just continue writing furiously !

Try automation as possible. Eg: reset social media password ms every Monday. Impossible to login, but just start focussing on your work properly .

Chapter 15: The cardinal rule of behavior change

Make it satisfying! What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.

First 3 laws, make it obvious, attractive, easy will make you do this time. 4th law – make it satisfying- will help to repeat the habit next time.

Chapter 16: How to stick with good habits every day.

Done break the Habit chain. Just track it daily.

Missing once is not a problem. Missing twice is the start of new habit.

Chapter 17: have a accountability partner.

Partner contract always helps. You commit to yourself and also to others.

Chapter 18: the truth about talent

Pick the right habit an progress is easy

Chapter 19: Goldilocks rule.

Maximum motivation is when facing a challenge if just manageable difficulty. Not more and not less. Few wins and lose helps.

Stepping up when it gets bored is the key factor to continue with the habit. Professionals stick to schedule. Amateurs let life get in the way.

Chapter 20: Downside of creating Good Habits.

Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery.

Conclusion: The secret to results that Last



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Gurusubramanian Swaminathan

Gurusubramanian Swaminathan

Life Coach, Vivid Writer on Reflections, Life Journey