Updated: Jul 10
The following is a summary of the learnings and direct quotes from the book.
Atomic habits describes are small achievable changes, stacked together to achieve a greater systemic change in your life.
The book gives some practical examples of ways you can adjust your daily routines and mindset to achieve change.
Goals & Systems
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.
When you fall in love with the process rather than the product or outcome, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy.
Atomic habits form your system to make change.
Outcomes are what you get.
Processes are what you do.
Identity is what you believe.
Habits are how you embody your identity.
The more pride you have in an aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain habits associated with it. Consider, does this behaviour help me become the type of person I wish to be?
Sport example - Each time you start a workout (habit) and complete a workout (process) you are an athlete (identity).
Your goal is to win (complete the chosen habit) the majority of the time. 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.
Steps to sticking to habits:
Make it obvious such as packing your bag / getting equipment ready for morning workout.
Make it attractive by choosing habits that are fun for you and what suits you best, not what is most popular.
Make it easy by surrounding yourself with people who have the habits you want to have. It is friendship and community that embed a new identity and help behaviours last over the long run.
Make it satisfying by highlighting the immediate ‘reward’ (something you like to do) that supports your habit. Such as after my ride, I get to hang out with my friends at the cafe.
Track your behaviour eg. Garmin, Strava, Training Peaks. This has an addictive affect on motivation. Master the habit of showing up ‘ don’t break the chain’ ‘never miss twice’, or in Training Peaks - aim for all greens.
“Nothing sustains motivation better than belonging to a tribe”
To assist in the satisfaction of the habit, reframe the habit to highlight the benefits rather than the drawbacks; change from ‘have to’ to ‘get to’. I get to do a run this afternoon.
The more you repeat an activity, the more the structure of your brain changes to become more efficient at that activity.
The amount of time performing the habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it. The habit must be established before it can be improved upon.
Swimming is a great example, more frequent swims with purpose will embed a feel for the water more than one swim per week.
Habits + deliberate practice = mastery
To achieve ‘flow state’ engage in tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. This is where the real changes and improvements to performance and outcomes are made.
Atomic Habits Reflection
Reflect on your habit progress by doing a personal ‘integrity report’:
What are the core values that drive my life and work?
How am I living and working with integrity right now?
How can I set a higher standard in the future?
What went well this year?
What didn’t go well?
What did I learn?
Research suggests, the most successful people in their fields ensure they spend little time in tempting situations and make ‘bad habits’ invisible rather than have extra-ordinary willpower.
When successful people fail, they rebound quickly. They find a way to embrace the boredom but have enough variety to keep the process attractive and satisfying.
They take action when the mood isn’t right, they might not enjoy it, but they always find a way to get it done.
Habit change = a thousand 1% (atomic) habit improvements done regularly.