I finished reading another great book on habits called Atomic Habits written by James Clear. The book was a quick and easy read. Having already read Power of Habit, this book was a great refresher and added some more information regarding habits and how to change them.

The book is broken down into the four sections. Each section discusses one of the four laws of behaviour change:

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.

Below are the notes I took while reading the book:

  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.
  • 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.
  • If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit.
  • Small changes in context can lead to large changes in behavior over time.
  • Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment.
  • It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.
  • The inversion of the 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it invisible.
  • 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 more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The inversion of the 2nd Law of Behavior Change is make it unattractive.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Habits can be completed in a few seconds but continue to impact your behavior for minutes or hours afterward.
  • 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.
  • The inversion of the 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it difficult.
  • The ultimate way to lock in future behavior is to automate your habits.
  • Onetime choices—like buying a better mattress or enrolling in an automatic savings plan—are single actions that automate your future habits and deliver increasing returns over time.
  • 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.
  • One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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