Atomic Habits


Atomic Habits - small consistent routine or practice. You get 1 percent better each day and after a year you will be 37 times better. Tiny consistent changes make big results. Search for marginal gains in everything you do.

It takes time to see results. Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. It takes time to cross the plateau of latent potential and see the change. Tectonic plates are always under pressure and when the pressure reaches a threshold, we see the effect.

Habits compound - both good and bad.

Goals are about results you want to achieve. System are the process that leads to the result. Focus on the system, fix the inputs and the results will follow. You go to gym for a day, you won't see results. But if you got to gym consistently, you will see results.

Beliefs drive actions. The first step in building a habit is updating your belief system. It starts from the inside.

Many people believe that I'm not a morning person; I'm terrible at directions. These are their beliefs, which laters becomes their identity and you accept these as facts. Later, you begin to resist certain actions because the actions are in contrast with your belief system.

Progress requires unlearning, continuously editing your beliefs and to upgrade, expand your identity. As you repeat certain actions, the evidence accumulates and your beliefs change. To wake up early, wake up 5 mins earlier every week and as the evidence accumulated, your belief changes and you become a morning person. Decide the kind of person you want to be and prove it to yourself with small wins. You can choose your identity in every choice you make in a day. It is about becoming someone.

As we practice a habit, our brains learns new associations and it starts performing the task unconsciouslly, freeing up cognitive load and mental capacity which can be allocated to other tasks. Habits create freedon, the mental space which can be used for free thinking and creativity.

Habit is a result of a cue, craving, action and response. The cue is noticing the reward. The craving is about desire, achieving a reward or a desired outcome. The response is the process which we take that leads to the reward.

To break a bad habit, eliminate its cues at first place. Reduce its craving and you won't start the habit. To stop doing a habit, make the response hard. If the rewards fail to satisfy you, the action will not recur again.

The four cardinal rules of building a habit: make it obvious (cue), make it attractive (craving), make it easy (response), make it satisfying (reward). The four rules to quit a bad habit: make it invisible (cue), make it unattractive (craving), make it difficult (response), make it unsatisfying (reward).

You can lookout for your habits by Pointing and Calling your daily habits. For every action, you point and say it aloud to verbalize it, thereby bringing it to the conscious level from a non-conscious level. Once you identify bad habits and good habits, you can then work towards fixing and improving them.

People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through. To apply this strategy, fill out this sentence: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. Saying that I will make a cup of tea for my wife is vague. But if you make a plan, I will make my wife a cup of tea after breakfast in kitchen, it is specific and there are more chances that you will stick to it.

The next way is to stack habits. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will do [NEW HABIT]. Example: After bath, I will meditate. Your habit should stick to a path in your existing routine.

By the above two methods, you give your habits a time and place in your world and make it obvious to follow.

Our brain has about 11 million sensory neurons. Of these, 10 million are dedicated to vision. Vision is the most powerful sensory ability. Our actions depends on the visual cues. Edit the visual cues by rearraging the environment to build better habits. Small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do.

Environment design helps to take back your control and become the architect of your life. To drink more water, fill bottles of water in the morning and place it common locations in your house. This makes it easy to drink more water. The best choice should be the most obvious one.

To stay away from phone, keep your phone away in another room. This way, you won't get tempted to pick your phone during works. Another way is attach a habit with a temptation.

Self-control is hard. It's hard to resist temptations, maintain Zen attitude in a life filled with interruptions - it takes too much energy. Updating the environment is easier. It cuts the bad habits at the source and you spend less time in tempting situations. Disciplined people better structure their environment to avoid tempting situations. Example: If you are peaking at phones during work hours, put your phone away where it is not visible.

Attractive habits are easy to follow. To follow a new habit, bundle it with an attractive activity you need to follow. The habit stacking + temptation bundling formula is: 1. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED] 2. After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT]. Example: 1. After I pull out my phone (current habit), I will do ten burpees (need). 2. After I do ten burpees, I will check Facebook (want).

We imitate the habits of the close (family and friends), the many (the tribe and social norms) and the powrful (those with prestige and status). It is hard to move against the grain of the culture. Move to a culture which follows your values and where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want for yourself. To become a reader, join a readers club.

Make bad habits unattractive. Habits satisy a craving which address an underlying motives. A habit is a solution to the problem you need to solve. Example: You feel anxiety, you take a cigaratte to relax - smoking here is the solution to the underlying motive or problem which is anxiety. Underlying motives of human beings are to conserve energy, obtain food and water, reproduce, reduce uncertainity etc. The gap between your current state and desire state makes you to act. The cue which creates the craving can be interrupted in different ways. By highlighting the benefits of bad habits and making it unattractive, we can quit bad habits.

Motion and taking action - motion makes you feel good. It is about planning for the act. Practicing the habit is the act. Don't be planning. You have to act. To build a habit, you need to practice it.

Our brains takes the path of least resistance. We are wired to save energy and follow the convenient path. The greater the obstacle to a habit, the harder it is to follow. Ask How we create an environment where it is easy to do the right thing? and create an environment which reduces friction and makes good habits easy to follow and increases friction for bad habits, making them hard. Example: To eat more fruits, cut fruits at the start of the week. It makes it easy to eat more fruits.

Every day we have a handful of decisive moments which impact your behavior for minutes or hours afterward. Make healthy choices in the descisive moments. Two-minute rule: You should be able to get into the habit in two minutes. Enforce the two-minute rule in the descisive moments. This makes it easy to start. To get to the gym, the first two minutes will be getting on to your workout clothes. Show up for the first two-minutes and the next set of habits will follow (putting on shoes, going to gym etc.) The first two-minutes becomes a ritual to the larger routine.

If a habit feels like a chore, you will quit it. The secret is to stay below the point where it feels like a chore.

A commitment device is a choice that you make in the present that controls your action in the future. Some one-time actions like unsubscribing from emails can improve your productivity, buying a better mattress can give better sleep. Automate as much as possible - to follow good habits as well as to make bad habits impossible. Also use commitment devices to make bad habits difficult. To not watch social media, uninstall the a social-media blocker app.

To quit a bad habit, force yourself to say the task loud before performing the bad habit. Saying it loud creates resistance and you will not perform the bad habit.

We are more likely to repeat experiences which gives us rewards, activities which satisfy us. Add a little bit of immediate pleasure/reward to good habits. This reinforces the good habits. For example, your goal is to read more books, you can give yourself a reward of a dollar every time you read a book and save it for a trip to Europe.

Track your habits and goals. Visual measures like cross-marks which you make in the calendar when you perform a habit itself can acts as a reward and help you to stick to a habit daily. Whenever possible, automate the measurement. Manual tracking should be limited only to your most important habits. Record a habit immediately after it occurs. A pitfall of using measures is when the measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. Along with looking at measure, also look at the intangible benefits which you observe.

You can use an accountability partner - a friend or spouse to keep you accountable on a good habit. Create a habit contract - a written or verbal agreement with your accountability partner.

Genes influence everyting from the number of hours you spend watching television to your response for stress. Genes create area of opportunity where we can excel. Choose the right field of competition to maximize your odds of success. Take a personality test and choose habits that work for your personality.

Ask the following questions to pick habits:

Make the task just enough difficult to get through. This is known as Goldilocks zone. If the task is too difficult, we struggle. If the task is too easy, we do it in autocompletion mode and we don't improve skills. Choose a task which is just enough hard and you will advance in small ways.

At some point, you get bored over training every day. Mastery requires practice. Start loving boredom and stick to practice in any mood.

When you reach good-enough state, you stop improving as you start doing the habit without thinking. It leads to a plateau. Review your performance and make adjustments. You need deliberate practice - constantly stretching your skills to improve and to become the elite.