There are many books on habits that come and go but Atomic Habits is one of the most practical books in this segment.
This book not only tells you the science behind habit formation but also the methods on how you can break/create the habits you need for a better life.
Here are 10 lessons from this book that will help you to create a better life.
1) 1% better every day
This concept is all about compounding which states that when you start a new habit it might not be noticeable when you first start it, but it’s far more meaningful in the long run.
If you strive to get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you are done.
Conversely, if you get 1% worse for each day for one year, you would decline nearly down to 0.
Here is some math to back up the claim.
“Habits are compound interest of self-improvement.”
Becoming 1% better/worse is for you to determine and it could only be adopted by forming good/bad habits.
Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformation.
2) Plateau of Latent Potential- Achieving your true potential
When you continue with your good habits daily there will be a time when you will achieve the desired result you wanted.
These breakthrough moments are the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.
Similarly, habits won’t make a difference if you don’t follow them consistently.
When you start a habit and you don’t see a change in days, weeks, or maybe months it is called ‘The Valley of Disappointment.’
The most powerful outcomes are delayed.
In order to see a significant change, habits need to persist long enough to break the ‘Plateau of Latent Potential.’
When you finally break through the plateau of latent potential people will see it as an overnight success but you know the reality behind it.
Changes take years- before it happens all at once.
Don’t aim for the short-term result, play the long-term game.
3) Habit Scorecard
One of the best things you can do is be AWARE of your habits and ACCEPT them as a good/bad one.
The reason why most people fail in their life is due to a lack of self-awareness.
When we become self-aware, we get to know about our strengths and weaknesses.
Using this we can create a plan of things we need to maintain and those on which we need to work.
HABIT SCORECARD helps you with self-awareness.
To create a habit scorecard:
1) Write down all your habits.
2) If it’s a Good Habit write ‘+’
3) If it’s a Bad Habit write ‘-‘
4) If it’s a Neutral Habit write ‘=’
eg: Waking up ” = “, Brushing Teeth ” + ” and Checking phone as you wake up ” -“
This scorecard will help you be aware of good/bad habits and awareness is the first step towards change.
There are no good/bad habits there are only effective habits.
Make sure you create them.
4) Point-and-Call System
If you are too lazy to make a habit scorecard then this is the best method for you.
This system is the best way to end your bad habits.
To do this:
SAY OUT LOUD!! the action you are thinking of taking and what the outcome will be.
eg: If you want to start exercising and notice yourself procrastinating by watching Netflix on your couch.
Say out loud: “I am about to watch one more episode of game of thrones (action) and doing this will avoid me from working out. (outcome)
When you hear your bad habit spoken up loud it makes the consequences seem more real.
This makes you more conscious of your actions.
Which will help you in making better decisions throughout the day.
5) Designing your environment for success
Every habit is initiated by a cue.
eg: When you see chocolate, you want to eat it or When you see a notification on your phone, you want to check it.
The former part is your cue and the latter is the response to that cue.
You can construct your own environment for the desired habits that you want.
1) Want to go for a jog in the morning?
Get your workout clothes out and arrange them in front of the bed.
2) Want to read a book before going to bed?
Place it on the bed so you can see it.
3) Want to drink water as you wake up?
Place your water bottle near your bed so you can drink it.
“If you want to make a HABIT a big part of your life, make the CUE a big part of your environment.”
Most people live in the world others have created for them but you can alter the environment around you for positive cues and live life on your own terms.
6) The Role of Society in shaping your habits
One of the most effective things that you can do to build better habits is to join a ‘culture’ where your desired behavior is normal behavior.
eg: Love to read books? –> Join a Book Club.
New Habits will seem achievable when you see other people doing them every day.
We all are Social Animals and we love it when we belong to a group.
Nothing would sustain motivation better than belonging to a tribe.
As the saying goes:
“If you surround yourself with 5 fit people, you will be the 6th. Similarly, if you surround yourself with 5 alcoholics, you will be the 6th.”
We adopt the behavior of the people we surround ourselves with.
7) Use your cravings to your advantage
A craving is a sense that something is missing.
It is the desire to change the internal state.
eg: When you are hungry, you eat food.
- Being Hungry is your internal state.
- Eating here is your desire.
- Food is what you crave for.
The gap between the current state and the desired state provides a reason to act.
eg: Current state (hungry) — > Desired state (fullness)
To change this state we act by *eating*.
When you binge-watch on Netflix, use Social Media for hours, and eat more; what you really want is not a new series, a bunch of likes, or a potato chip.
What you really want is to “feel different“.
All the habits you perform are real attempts to reach the desired state.
When you make a habit you learn to predict the end result.
eg: Cigarettes will make you feel relaxed.
Social Media will make you feel loved.
Try to associate your habits with positive feelings, change the end result and you are more likely to follow it to get the end result.
eg: Reward yourself with a good hot water bath after a workout.
Eat your favorite chocolate after studying for an hour.
This way you will make a good habit and reach your desired state by rewarding yourself in the end.
This will improve your chance to stick to a habit you were struggling to maintain.
8) MOTION vs ACTION
Most of our problems in forming a habit will fade away when we learn the difference between these two.
- When you are in motion you are planning and learning but you don’t produce any result.
- Action on the other hand is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.
eg: If I want to lose weight and I read some diet books that’s a motion but when I start taking the diet it’s action.
Motion doesn’t lead to any result but still, we do it because we think when we plan and learn more we are progressing without running the risk of failure.
We are social animals and our biggest fear is to get embarrassed and that’s the main reason we slip into motion rather than take action.
Motion makes you feel that you are getting things done but in reality, you are just preparing to get something done.
Later then, preparation becomes a form of procrastination and you never start with the habit that you were planning to.
If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with REPETITION, not PERFECTION. 💡 To make a habit: You just need to get your reps in.
“One step at a time is all it takes to get you there.” – Emily Dickinson
9) The Law of Least Effort
Energy is precious, and the brain is programmed to conserve it whenever possible.
It’s human nature to follow The Law of Least Effort, which states when deciding between two similar tasks, people will choose the one that requires the least amount of work/effort.
Every action requires some energy.
The more energy it requires, the less likely it is to occur.
eg: Reading the whole novel (Difficult- a lot of energy)
Reading 2 chapters from it (Easy- less energy)
💡 The less energy the habit requires the more likely it is to occur.
If you want to make a habit stick make sure you make it easy to perform.
The easier it is to perform the habit, the more chances that it will stick.
10) Commitment Device
Make your bad habits more difficult by creating a commitment device.
The choices you make in the present controls your action in the future.
To follow the commitment device we need to remove our present temptations so that we don’t indulge in unproductive behaviors.
To make a commitment device:
- Identify your bad habit
- Take note of the cue that starts that habit
- Remove it from your environment.
This is how I used it to end my bad habit of using my phone.
- Bad Habit- Using Social media on my phone.
- Cue- Notification, and Apps
- Removal- I used an app blocker to block all the Social Media apps for a given amount of time.
It all starts with AWARENESS and designing your ENVIRONMENT in your favor.
All the steps we have addressed here are tangible and easy to implement in one’s life.
The only thing left is for you to decide whether you are ready to make some change in your life or not.
I seriously hope you do. 😄
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.
I hope this article helped you in some way.
Do tell me your views in the comments.