I loved this book, it offers a fantastic, usable framework to create new habits and to change old ones. You can find my in-depth review of it with a lot of the main ideas of the book explained.
Here you can find all my highlights for the book, which give a really good overview of the most important content of Atomic Habits.
Introduction: My Story
A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly— and, in many cases, automatically. As each semester [of university] passed, I accumulated small but consistent habits that ultimately led to results that were unimaginable to me when I started.
Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.
The backbone of this book is my four-step model of habits— cue, craving, response, and reward— and the four laws of behavior change that evolve out of these steps. Readers with a psychology background may recognize some of these terms from operant conditioning, which was first proposed as “stimulus, response, reward” by B. F. Skinner in the 1930s and has been popularized more recently as “cue, routine, reward” in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
THE FUNDAMENTALS: Why Tiny Changes Make a Big Difference
Improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable— sometimes it isn’t even noticeable— but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty- seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
1% worse every day for one year. 0.99365 = 00.03 1% better every day for one year. 1.01365 = 37.78
Habits are the compound interest of self- improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.
But when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps— a 1 percent decline here and there— that eventually leads to a problem.
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
As Warren Buffett says, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
Relationships compound. People reflect your behavior back to you. The more you help others, the more others want to help you. Being a little bit nicer in each interaction can result in a network of broad and strong connections over time.
Negative thoughts compound. The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish, you see those kind of people everywhere.
This is one of the core reasons why it is so hard to build habits that last. People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau— what I call the Plateau of Latent Potential.
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it— but all that had gone before.”
We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.
Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.
Winners and losers have the same goals.
When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.
The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” The problem with a goals- first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.
The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long- term thinking is goal- less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Chapter Summary Habits are the compound interest of self- improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long- run. Habits are a double- edged sword. They can work for you or against you, which is why understanding the details is essential. Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient. An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Few things can have a more powerful impact on your life than improving your daily habits. And yet it is likely that this time next year you’ll be doing the same thing rather than something better.
There are three layers of behavior change: a change in your outcomes, a change in your processes, or a change in your identity.
With outcome- based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity- based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.
You can imagine many ways to try to get more people to vote in a democracy, but such behavior change would never get off the ground in a dictatorship. That’s not the identity of the system. Voting is a behavior that is impossible under a certain set of beliefs.
Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.
It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.
This mmade me think of my blog.. Ive become blogger and writer.
The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.
True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.
The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader. The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician.
The more deeply a thought or action is tied to your identity, the more difficult it is to change it. It can feel comfortable to believe what your culture believes (group identity) or to do what upholds your self- image (personal identity), even if it’s wrong.
Your identity emerges out of your habits. You are not born with preset beliefs. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience.
Each habit is like a suggestion: “Hey, maybe this is who I am.” If you finish a book, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes reading. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes exercise.
The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
Each time you write a page, you are a writer. Each time you practice the violin, you are a musician. Each time you start a workout, you are an athlete. Each time you encourage your employees, you are a leader.
Ask yourself, “Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?”
Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be.
Chapter Summary There are three levels of change: outcome change, process change, and identity change. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become. Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity. The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your beliefs about yourself.
Your response also depends on your ability. It sounds simple, but a habit can occur only if you are capable of doing it.
Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us and (2) they teach us.
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.
All behavior is driven by the desire to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is that you notice something good and you want to obtain it. Sometimes the problem is that you are experiencing pain and you want to relieve it.
How to Create a Good Habit The 1st law (Cue): Make it obvious. The 2nd law (Craving): Make it attractive. The 3rd law (Response): Make it easy. The 4th law (Reward): Make it satisfying.
How to Break a Bad Habit Inversion of the 1st law (Cue): Make it invisible. Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving): Make it unattractive. Inversion of the 3rd law (Response): Make it difficult. Inversion of the 4th law (Reward): Make it unsatisfying.
Every goal is doomed to fail if it goes against the grain of human nature.
Chapter Summary A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic. The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible. Any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves four steps: cue, craving, response, and reward. The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.
THE 1ST LAW: Make It Obvious
We underestimate how much our brains and bodies can do without thinking. You do not tell your hair to grow, your heart to pump, your lungs to breathe, or your stomach to digest. And yet your body handles all this and more on autopilot. You are much more than your conscious self.
This is one of the most surprising insights about our habits: you don’t need to be aware of the cue for a habit to begin. You can notice an opportunity and take action without dedicating conscious attention to it. This is what makes habits useful. It’s also what makes them dangerous. As habits form, your actions come under the direction of your automatic and nonconscious mind. You fall into old patterns before you realize what’s happening.
I also found the story of a man who had spent years working as a lifeguard and would occasionally yell “Walk!” whenever he saw a child running.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Chapter Summary With enough practice, your brain will pick up on the cues that predict certain outcomes without consciously thinking about it. Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing. The process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them. Pointing- and- Calling raises your level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level by verbalizing your actions. The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behavior.
Broadly speaking, the format for creating an implementation intention is: “When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.”
Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.
The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].
No behavior happens in isolation. Each action becomes a cue that triggers the next behavior.
The habit stacking formula is: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
Habit stacking increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with a habit by stacking your new behavior on top of an old one. This process can be repeated to chain numerous habits together, each one acting as the cue for the next.
Chapter Summary The 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it obvious. The two most common cues are time and location. Creating an implementation intention is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a specific time and location. The implementation intention formula is: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit. 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.
In this way, the most common form of change is not internal, but external: we are changed by the world around us. Every habit is context dependent.
Every habit is initiated by a cue, and we are more likely to notice cues that stand out. Unfortunately, the environments where we live and work often make it easy not to do certain actions because there is no obvious cue to trigger the behavior. It’s easy not to practice the guitar when it’s tucked away in the closet. It’s easy not to read a book when the bookshelf is in the corner of the guest room. It’s easy not to take your vitamins when they are out of sight in the pantry. When the cues that spark a habit are subtle or hidden, they are easy to ignore.
Environment design is powerful not only because it influences how we engage with the world but also because we rarely do it. Most people live in a world others have created for them.
Habits thrive under predictable circumstances like these. Focus comes automatically when you are sitting at your work desk. Relaxation is easier when you are in a space designed for that purpose. Sleep comes quickly when it is the only thing that happens in your bedroom. If you want behaviors that are stable and predictable, you need an environment that is stable and predictable.
Chapter Summary Small changes in context can lead to large changes in behavior over time. Every habit is initiated by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues that stand out. Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment. Gradually, your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behavior. The context becomes the cue. It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.
The people with the best self- control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self- restraint when you don’t have to use it very often.
You can break a habit, but you’re unlikely to forget it. Once the mental grooves of habit have been carved into your brain, they are nearly impossible to remove entirely— even if they go unused for quite a while. And that means that simply resisting temptation is an ineffective strategy. It is hard to maintain a Zen attitude in a life filled with interruptions. It takes too much energy. In the short- run, you can choose to overpower temptation. In the long- run, we become a product of the environment that we live in. To put it bluntly, I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment.
Self- control is a short- term strategy, not a long- term one. You may be able to resist temptation once or twice, but it’s unlikely you can muster the willpower to override your desires every time.
Chapter Summary The inversion of the 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it invisible. Once a habit is formed, it is unlikely to be forgotten. People with high self- control tend to spend less time in tempting situations. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it. One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it. Self- control is a short- term strategy, not a long- term one.
THE 2ND LAW: Make It Attractive
It is the anticipation of a reward— not the fulfillment of it— that gets us to take action.
Interestingly, the reward system that is activated in the brain when you receive a reward is the same system that is activated when you anticipate a reward.
The fact that the brain allocates so much precious space to the regions responsible for craving and desire provides further evidence of the crucial role these processes play. Desire is the engine that drives behavior. Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response.
Chapter Summary The 2nd Law of Behavior Change is make it attractive. The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit- forming. Habits are a dopamine- driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act. It is the anticipation of a reward— not the fulfillment of it— that gets us to take action. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike. Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
whatever habits are normal in your culture are among the most attractive behaviors you’ll find.
Behaviors are attractive when they help us fit in.
We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful.
Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. You’ll rise together.
Nothing sustains motivation better than belonging to the tribe. It transforms a personal quest into a shared one. Previously, you were on your own.
There is tremendous internal pressure to comply with the norms of the group. The reward of being accepted is often greater than the reward of winning an argument, looking smart, or finding truth. Most days, we’d rather be wrong with the crowd than be right by ourselves.
Chapter Summary The culture we live in determines which behaviors are attractive to us. We tend to adopt habits that are praised and approved of by our culture because we have a strong desire to fit in and belong to the tribe. We tend to imitate the habits of three social groups: the close (family and friends), the many (the tribe), and the powerful (those with status and prestige). One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group. The normal behavior of the tribe often overpowers the desired behavior of the individual. Most days, we’d rather be wrong with the crowd than be right by ourselves. If a behavior can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.
Chapter Summary The inversion of the 2nd Law of Behavior Change is make it unattractive. Every behavior has a surface level craving and a deeper underlying motive. Your habits are modern- day solutions to ancient desires. The cause of your habits is actually the prediction that precedes them. The prediction leads to a feeling. Highlight the benefits of avoiding a bad habit to make it seem unattractive. Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings. Create a motivation ritual by doing something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
THE 3RD LAW: Make It Easy
We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.”
When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something. You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing.
With each repetition, cell- to- cell signaling improves and the neural connections tighten. First described by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb in 1949, this phenomenon is commonly known as Hebb’s Law: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Chapter Summary The 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it easy. The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning. Focus on taking action, not being in motion. Habit formation is the process by which a behavior becomes progressively more automatic through repetition. The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.
In a sense, every habit is just an obstacle to getting what you really want. Dieting is an obstacle to getting fit. Meditation is an obstacle to feeling calm. Journaling is an obstacle to thinking clearly. You don’t actually want the habit itself. What you really want is the outcome the habit delivers. The greater the obstacle— that is, the more difficult the habit— the more friction there is between you and your desired end state.
“Japanese firms emphasized what came to be known as ‘lean production,’ relentlessly looking to remove waste of all kinds from the production process, down to redesigning workspaces, so workers didn’t have to waste time twisting and turning to reach their tools. The result was that Japanese factories were more efficient and Japanese products were more reliable than American ones. In 1974, service calls for American- made color televisions were five times as common as for Japanese televisions. By 1979, it took American workers three times as long to assemble their sets.”
Business is a never- ending quest to deliver the same result in an easier fashion.
The greater the friction, the less likely the habit.
Chapter Summary Human behavior follows the Law of Least Effort. We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Reduce the friction associated with good behaviors. When friction is low, habits are easy. Increase the friction associated with bad behaviors. When friction is high, habits are difficult. Prime your environment to make future actions easier.
It’s better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.
Chapter Summary Habits can be completed in a few seconds but continue to impact your behavior for minutes or hours afterward. Many habits occur at decisive moments— choices that are like a fork in the road— and either send you in the direction of a productive day or an unproductive one. The Two- Minute Rule states, “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things. Standardize before you optimize. You can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist.
As mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.”
The average person spends over two hours per day on social media. What could you do with an extra six hundred hours per year?)
THE 4TH LAW: Make It Satisfying
“It is a lot easier for people to adopt a product that provides a strong positive sensory signal, for example the mint taste of toothpaste, than it is to adopt a habit that does not provide pleasurable sensory feedback, like flossing one’s teeth.
What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided. You learn what to do in the future based on what you were rewarded for doing (or punished for doing) in the past. Positive emotions cultivate habits. Negative emotions destroy them.
Behavioral economists refer to this tendency as time inconsistency. That is, the way your brain evaluates rewards is inconsistent across time.* You value the present more than the future.
French economist Frédéric Bastiat explained the problem clearly when he wrote, “It almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. . . . Often, the sweeter the first fruit of a habit, the more bitter are its later fruits.”
As a general rule, the more immediate pleasure you get from an action, the more strongly you should question whether it aligns with your long- term goals.*
Our preference for instant gratification reveals an important truth about success: because of how we are wired, most people will spend all day chasing quick hits of satisfaction. The road less traveled is the road of delayed gratification. If you’re willing to wait for the rewards, you’ll face less competition and often get a bigger payoff. As the saying goes, the last mile is always the least crowded.
The immediate reward of seeing yourself save money toward the leather jacket feels a lot better than being deprived. You are making it satisfying to do nothing.
It is worth noting that it is important to select short- term rewards that reinforce your identity rather than ones that conflict with
The more a habit becomes part of your life, the less you need outside encouragement to follow through. Incentives can start a habit. Identity sustains a habit.
Chapter Summary The 4th Law of Behavior Change is make it satisfying. We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying. The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards. The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided. To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful— even if it’s in a small way. The first three laws of behavior change— make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy— increase the odds that a behavior will be performed this time. The fourth law of behavior change— make it satisfying— increases the odds that a behavior will be repeated next time.
In summary, habit tracking (1) creates a visual cue that can remind you to act, (2) is inherently motivating because you see the progress you are making and don’t want to lose it, and (3) feels satisfying whenever you record another successful instance of your habit.
Charlie Munger says, “The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.”
Don’t put up a zero. Don’t let losses eat into your compounding.
Furthermore, it’s not always about what happens during the workout. It’s about being the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts. It’s easy to train when you feel good, but it’s crucial to show up when you don’t feel like it— even if you do less than you hope. Going to the gym for five minutes may not improve your performance, but it reaffirms your identity.
we optimize for what we measure. When we choose the wrong measurement, we get the wrong behavior.
“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”
In our data- driven world, we tend to overvalue numbers and undervalue anything ephemeral, soft, and difficult to quantify. We mistakenly think the factors we can measure are the only factors that exist. But just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing. And just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it’s not important at all.
Chapter Summary One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress. A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit— like marking an X on a calendar. Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress. Don’t break the chain. Try to keep your habit streak alive. Never miss twice. If you miss one day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing.
Just as we are more likely to repeat an experience when the ending is satisfying, we are also more likely to avoid an experience when the ending is painful. Pain is an effective teacher.
When the consequences are severe, people learn quickly.
Chapter Summary The inversion of the 4th Law of Behavior Change is make it unsatisfying. We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying. An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us. A habit contract can be used to add a social cost to any behavior. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful. Knowing that someone else is watching you can be a powerful motivator.
HOW TO CREATE A GOOD HABIT The 1st Law: Make It Obvious 1.1: Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them. 1.2: Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].” 1.3: Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].” 1.4: Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible. The 2nd Law:Make It Attractive 2.1: Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do. 2.2: Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. 2.3: Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit. The 3rd Law: Make It Easy 3.1: Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits. 3.2: Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier. 3.3: Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact. 3.4: Use the Two- Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less. 3.5: Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior. The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying 4.1: Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit. 4.2: Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits. 4.3: Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.” 4.4: Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
HOW TO BREAK A BAD HABIT Inversion of the 1st Law: Make It Invisible 1.5: Reduce exposure. Remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment. Inversion of the 2nd Law: Make It Unattractive 2.4: Reframe your mind- set. Highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits. Inversion of the 3rd Law: Make It Difficult 3.6: Increase friction. Increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits. 3.7: Use a commitment device. Restrict your future choices to the ones that benefit you. Inversion of the 4th Law: Make It Unsatisfying 4.5: Get an accountability partner. Ask someone to watch your behavior. 4.6: Create a habit contract. Make the costs of your bad habits public and painful.
ADVANCED TACTICS: How to Go from Being Merely Good to Being Truly Great
genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity.
Bundled together, your unique cluster of genetic traits predispose you to a particular personality. Your personality is the set of characteristics that is consistent from situation to situation.
The most proven scientific analysis of personality traits is known as the “Big Five,” which breaks them down into five spectrums of behavior. Openness to experience: from curious and inventive on one end to cautious and consistent on the other. Conscientiousness: organized and efficient to easygoing and spontaneous. Extroversion: outgoing and energetic to solitary and reserved (you likely know them as extroverts vs. introverts). Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate to challenging and detached. Neuroticism: anxious and sensitive to confident, calm, and stable.
Confirm this and research
What feels like fun to me, but work to others? The mark of whether you are made for a task is not whether you love it but whether you can handle the pain of the task easier than most people. When are you enjoying yourself while other people are complaining? The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you were made to do.
Boiling water will soften a potato but harden an egg. You can’t control whether you’re a potato or an egg, but you can decide to play a game where it’s better to be hard or soft.
Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck.
Chapter Summary The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. Pick the right habit and progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle. Genes cannot be easily changed, which means they provide a powerful advantage in favorable circumstances and a serious disadvantage in unfavorable circumstances. Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities. Choose the habits that best suit you. Play a game that favors your strengths. If you can’t find a game that favors you, create one. Genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on.
As soon as we experience the slightest dip in motivation, we begin seeking a new strategy— even if the old one was still working. As Machiavelli noted, “Men desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well wish for a change as much as those who are doing badly.”
At some point, everyone faces the same challenge on the journey of self- improvement: you have to fall in love with boredom.
But stepping up when it’s annoying or painful or draining to do so, that’s what makes the difference between a professional and an amateur.
The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.
Chapter Summary The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. As habits become routine, they become less interesting and less satisfying. We get bored. Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It’s the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference. Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.
When you know the simple movements so well that you can perform them without thinking, you are free to pay attention to more advanced details. In this way, habits are the backbone of any pursuit of excellence.
When you can do it “good enough” on autopilot, you stop thinking about how to do it better.
“Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, then do them the same way every time.”
Repeating a habit is essential to build up evidence of your desired identity. As you latch on to that new identity, however, those same beliefs can hold you back from the next level of growth. When working against you, your identity creates a kind of “pride” that encourages you to deny your weak spots and prevents you from truly growing.
The more sacred an idea is to us— that is, the more deeply it is tied to our identity— the more strongly we will defend it against criticism.
One solution is to avoid making any single aspect of your identity an overwhelming portion of who you are. In the words of investor Paul Graham, “keep your identity small.” The more you let a single belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you. If
The key to mitigating these losses of identity is to redefine yourself such that you get to keep important aspects of your identity even if your particular role changes. “I’m an athlete” becomes “I’m the type of person who is mentally tough and loves a physical challenge.” “I’m a great soldier” transforms into “I’m the type of person who is disciplined, reliable, and great on a team.” “I’m the CEO” translates to “I’m the type of person who builds and creates things.”
Everything is impermanent. Life is constantly changing, so you need to periodically check in to see if your old habits and beliefs are still serving
A lack of self- awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.
Chapter Summary The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside is that we stop paying attention to little errors. Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery Reflection and review is a process that allows you to remain conscious of your performance over time. The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.
THERE IS AN ancient Greek parable known as the Sorites Paradox,* which talks about the effect one small action can have when repeated enough times. One formulation of the paradox goes as follows: Can one coin make a person rich? If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you wouldn’t claim that he or she is rich. But what if you add another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him or her so. We can say the same about atomic habits.
Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine.
Behaviors are effortless here. Behaviors are difficult here. Obvious Invisible Attractive Unattractive Easy Hard Satisfying Unsatisfying
The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop.
saving. It’s remarkable the friendships you can build if you don’t stop caring.