Book Review: Atomic Habits - by James Clear


Really excellent, inspiring book, with a lot of very good practical advice to act upon. Lots of science-backed advice on how to make or break habits and why you should do so.

My notes

It’s easy to underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.

Should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

Weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits etc.

You get what you repeat.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.

A habit is just a memory of the steps you previously followed to solve a problem in the past.

When you have your habits dialed in and the basics of life are handled and done, your mind is free to focus on new challenges.

If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start. Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act. Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future. Without the first three steps, a behavior will not occur. Without all four, a behavior will not be repeated.

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.

How to Create a Good Habit: 1 (Cue): Make it obvious 2 (Craving): Make it attractive 3 (Response): Make it easy 4 (Reward): Make it satisfying

How to Break a Bad Habit: 1 (Cue): Make it invisible 2 (Craving): Make it unattractive 3 (Response): Make it difficult 4 (Reward): Make it unsatisfying

Make a list of your daily habits.

Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be?

Create an implementation intention: “When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.”

People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through.

You often decide what to do next based on what you have just finished doing.

Temptation bundling is one way to create a heightened version of any habit by connecting it with something you already want. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

To build a new habit, identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. The habit stacking formula is: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”

People often choose products not because of what they are, but because of where they are. Your habits change depending on the room you are in and the cues in front of you. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior. If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, make the cue a big part of your environment.

Habits can be easier to change in a new environment.

Practice self-restraint not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.

Remove a single cue and the entire habit often fades away.

Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have.

Reframe your habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks. Instead of telling yourself “I need to go run in the morning,” say “It’s time to build endurance and get fast.”

To master a habit, start with repetition, not perfection.

Habit formation: It doesn’t matter if it’s been thirty days or three hundred days. What matters is the rate at which you perform the behavior.

Addition by subtraction: look for every point of friction and eliminate it. Subtract wasted effort to achieve more with less effort.

Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy. Prime your environment so it’s ready for immediate use.

The best way to measure your progress is with a habit tracker. Don’t break the chain of creating every day and you will end up with an impressive portfolio. Record each measurement immediately after the habit occurs. The completion of the behavior is the cue to write it down.

If I miss one day, a simple rule: never miss twice. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.

When a measure becomes the target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Work on tasks of just manageable difficulty.

Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.