Atomic Habits (Highlights)
As a self-claimed “blogger”, I typically try to avoid simply listing out quotes from a book and calling it a “blog post.” However, every once in a while, a book comes along that is so packed with valuable insights that it’s hard to resist sharing some of the most impactful passages. One such book is James Clear’s “Atomic Habits,” which has taken the self-improvement world by storm since its release.
As I was reading the book, I found myself repeatedly highlighting and underlining certain passages that really stood out to me. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing some of these highlights.
- A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and, in many cases, automatically.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- There are three layers of behavior change: a change in your outcomes, a change in your processes, or a change in your identity. The first layer is changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results: losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change. The second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level. The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.
- Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads us to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become.
- The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others. Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.
- Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs.
- Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.
- 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.
- 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.
- Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.
- Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity. What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe that you are—either consciously or nonconsciously.
- Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience.
- More precisely, your habits are how you embody your identity.
- Whatever your identity is right now, you only believe it because you have proof of it.
- The effect of one-off experiences tends to fade away while the effect of habits gets reinforced with time, which means your habits contribute most of the evidence that shapes your identity. In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.
- Each habit not only gets results but also teaches you something far more important: to trust yourself. You start to believe you can actually accomplish these things. When the votes mount up and the evidence begins to change, the story you tell yourself begins to change as well.
- It is a simple two-step process: Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
- The concept of identity-based habits is our first introduction to another key theme in this book: feedback loops.
- Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits. It’s a two-way street. The formation of all habits is a feedback loop (a concept we will explore in depth in the next chapter), but it’s important to let your values, principles, and identity drive the loop rather than your results. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome.
- Identity change is the North Star of habit change.
- Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone. Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be.
- Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits.
- 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.
- From his studies, Thorndike described the learning process by stating, “behaviors followed by satisfying consequences tend to be repeated and those that produce unpleasant consequences are less likely to be repeated.”
- A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic. The process of habit formation begins with trial and error.
- Habits are mental shortcuts learned from experience. In a sense, a habit is just a memory of the steps you previously followed to solve a problem in the past.
- The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
- Every craving is linked to a desire to change your internal state.
- 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.
- In summary, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response, reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits. This cycle is known as the habit loop.
- 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.
- 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.
- If a habit remains mindless, you can’t expect to improve it. As the psychologist Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
- One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing. This helps explain why the consequences of bad habits can sneak up on us. We need a “point-and-call” system for our personal lives.
- Hearing your bad habits spoken aloud makes the consequences seem more real. It adds weight to the action rather than letting yourself mindlessly slip into an old routine. This approach is useful even if you’re simply trying to remember a task on your to-do list. Just saying out loud, “Tomorrow, I need to go to the post office after lunch,” increases the odds that you’ll actually do it. You’re getting yourself to acknowledge the need for action—and that can make all the difference.
- The process of behavior change always starts with awareness.
- 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.
- The sentence they filled out is what researchers refer to as an implementation intention, which is a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit.
- The cues that can trigger a habit come in a wide range of forms— —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.
- Give your habits a time and a space to live in the world.
- The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption that leads to additional purchases.
- Many human behaviors follow this cycle. You often decide what to do next based on what you have just finished doing.
- One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.
- Don’t ask yourself to do a habit when you’re likely to be occupied with something else.
- Habits like “read more” or “eat better” are worthy causes, but these goals do not provide instruction on how and when to act. Be specific and clear: After I close the door. After I brush my teeth. After I sit down at the table.
- The specificity is important. The more tightly bound your new habit is to a specific cue, the better the odds are that you will notice when the time comes to act.
- 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.
- In 1952, the economist Hawkins Stern described a phenomenon he called Suggestion Impulse Buying, which “is triggered when a shopper sees a product for the first time and visualizes a need for it.” In other words, customers will occasionally buy products not because they want them but because of how they are presented to them.
- By comparison, creating obvious visual cues can draw your attention toward a desired habit.
- The cues that trigger a habit can start out very specific, but over time your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behavior.
- When you can’t manage to get to an entirely new environment, redefine or rearrange your current one. Create a separate space for work, study, exercise, entertainment, and cooking. The mantra I find useful is “One space, one use.”
- Whenever possible, avoid mixing the context of one habit with another.
- 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.
- It’s easier to practice self-restraint when you don’t have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.
- Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. They foster the feelings they try to numb. You feel bad, so you eat junk food. Because you eat junk food, you feel bad.
- 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.
- 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.
- Other processed foods enhance dynamic contrast, which refers to items with a combination of sensations, like crunchy and creamy.
- Society is filled with highly engineered versions of reality that are more attractive than the world our ancestors evolved in.
- The ability to experience pleasure remained, but without dopamine, desire died. And without desire, action stopped.
- Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop.
- When it comes to habits, the key takeaway is this: dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it.
- It is the anticipation of a reward—not the fulfillment of it—that gets us to take action.
- 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.
- You’re more likely to find a behavior attractive if you get to do one of your favorite things at the same time.
- The habit stacking + temptation bundling formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED]. After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].
- 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.
- As Charles Darwin noted, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” As a result, one of the deepest human desires is to belong. And this ancient preference exerts a powerful influence on our modern behavior.
- We don’t choose our earliest habits, we imitate them. We follow the script handed down by our friends and family, our church or school, our local community and society at large.
- We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful.
- Nothing sustains motivation better than belonging to the tribe. It transforms a personal quest into a shared one.
- The normal behavior of the tribe often overpowers the desired behavior of the individual.
- When changing your habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive. When changing your habits means fitting in with the tribe, change is very attractive.
- This is one reason we care so much about the habits of highly effective people. We try to copy the behavior of successful people because we desire success ourselves. Many of our daily habits are imitations of people we admire.
- 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.
- A craving is just a specific manifestation of a deeper underlying motive. Your brain did not evolve with a desire to smoke cigarettes or to check Instagram or to play video games. At a deep level, you simply want to reduce uncertainty and relieve anxiety, to win social acceptance and approval, or to achieve status.
- Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires. New versions of old vices. The underlying motives behind human behavior remain the same. The specific habits we perform differ based on the period of history.
- Your current habits are not necessarily the best way to solve the problems you face; they are just the methods you learned to use. Once you associate a solution with the problem you need to solve, you keep coming back to it.
- A craving is the sense that something is missing. It is the desire to change your internal state. When the temperature falls, there is a gap between what your body is currently sensing and what it wants to be sensing. This gap between your current state and your desired state provides a reason to act.
- Desire is the difference between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Even the tiniest action is tinged with the motivation to feel differently than you do in the moment. When you binge-eat or light up or browse social media, what you really want is not a potato chip or a cigarette or a bunch of likes. What you really want is to feel different.
- To summarize, the specific cravings you feel and habits you perform are really an attempt to address your fundamental underlying motives. Whenever a habit successfully addresses a motive, you develop a craving to do it again. In time, you learn to predict that checking social media will help you feel loved or that watching YouTube will allow you to forget your fears. Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings, and we can use this insight to our advantage rather than to our detriment.
- The key point is that both versions of reality are true. You have to do those things, and you also get to do them.
- By simply changing one word, you shift the way you view each event. You transition from seeing these behaviors as burdens and turn them into opportunities.
- Reframing your habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive.
- 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 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.
- Sometimes motion is useful, but it will never produce an outcome by itself. It doesn’t matter how many times you go talk to the personal trainer, that motion will never get you in shape. Only the action of working out will get the result you’re looking to achieve. If motion doesn’t lead to results, why do we do it? Sometimes we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. But more often than not, we do it because motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. Most of us are experts at avoiding criticism. It doesn’t feel good to fail or to be judged publicly, so we tend to avoid situations where that might happen. And that’s the biggest reason why you slip into motion rather than taking action: you want to delay failure.
- Motion makes you feel like you’re getting things done. But really, you’re just preparing to get something done. 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.
- All habits follow a similar trajectory from effortful practice to automatic behavior, a process known as automaticity. Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which occurs when the nonconscious mind takes over.
- The 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it easy. The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.
- 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. 12 The Law of Least Effort IN HIS AWARD-WINNING BOOK, Guns, Germs, and Steel, anthropologist and biologist Jared Diamond points out a simple fact: different continents have different shapes.
- 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.
- Maybe if you really wanted it, you’d actually do it. But the truth is, our real motivation is to be lazy and to do what is convenient. And despite what the latest productivity best seller will tell you, this is a smart strategy, not a dumb one.
- 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 less friction you face, the easier it is for your stronger self to emerge. The idea behind make it easy is not to only do easy things. The idea is to make it as easy as possible in the moment to do things that payoff in the long run.
- Too often, we try to start habits in high-friction environments.
- Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy.
- 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 a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it—makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.”
- Decisive moments set the options available to your future self.
- We are limited by where our habits lead us. This is why mastering the decisive moments throughout your day is so important. Each day is made up of many moments, but it is really a few habitual choices that determine the path you take. These little choices stack up, each one setting the trajectory for how you spend the next chunk of time.
- Habits are the entry point, not the end point. They are the cab, not the gym.
- When you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon. The most effective way I know to counteract this tendency is to use the Two-Minute Rule, which states, “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”
- A new habit should not feel like a challenge. The actions that follow can be challenging, but the first two minutes should be easy. What you want is a “gateway habit” that naturally leads you down a more productive path.
- The Two-Minute Rule can seem like a trick to some people. You know that the real goal is to do more than just two minutes, so it may feel like you’re trying to fool yourself. Nobody is actually aspiring to read one page or do one push-up or open their notes.
- He always stopped journaling before it seemed like a hassle. Ernest Hemingway believed in similar advice for any kind of writing. “The best way is to always stop when you are going good,” he said.
- Strategies like this work for another reason, too: they reinforce the identity you want to build.
- Nearly any larger life goal can be transformed into a two-minute behavior.
- 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.
- If you find yourself continually struggling to follow through on your plans, then you can take a page from Victor Hugo and make your bad habits more difficult by creating what psychologists call a commitment device.
- A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future. It is a way to lock in future behavior, bind you to good habits, and restrict you from bad ones.
- The key is to change the task such that it requires more work to get out of the good habit than to get started on it.
- Technology creates a level of convenience that enables you to act on your smallest whims and desires.
- It’s easy to write off these minor distractions as “just taking a break,” but over time they can accumulate into a serious issue. The constant tug of “just one more minute” can prevent me from doing anything of consequence.
- The inversion of the 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it difficult. A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that locks in better behavior in the future. 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. Using technology to automate your habits is the most reliable and effective way to guarantee the right behavior.
- We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying.
- 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.
- 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. It completes the habit loop.
- In modern society, many of the choices you make today will not benefit you immediately.
- The human brain did not evolve for life in a delayed-return environment. The earliest remains of modern humans, known as Homo sapiens sapiens, are approximately two hundred thousand years old. These were the first humans to have a brain relatively similar to ours. In particular, the neocortex—the newest part of the brain and the region responsible for higher functions like language—was roughly the same size two hundred thousand years ago as today. You are walking around with the same hardware as your Paleolithic ancestors.
- 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. Usually, this tendency serves us well. A reward that is certain right now is typically worth more than one that is merely possible in the future. But occasionally, our bias toward instant gratification causes problems.
- With our bad habits, the immediate outcome usually feels good, but the ultimate outcome feels bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: the immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the ultimate outcome feels good.
- What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.
- In a perfect world, the reward for a good habit is the habit itself. In the real world, good habits tend to feel worthwhile only after they have provided you with something.
- You want the ending of your habit to be satisfying. The best approach is to use reinforcement, which refers to the process of using an immediate reward to increase the rate of a behavior.
- Immediate reinforcement can be especially helpful when dealing with habits of avoidance, which are behaviors you want to stop doing.
- 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.
- Making progress is satisfying, and visual measures—like moving paper clips or hairpins or marbles—provide clear evidence of your progress. As a result, they reinforce your behavior and add a little bit of immediate satisfaction to any activity.
- “Don’t break the chain” is a powerful mantra. Don’t break the chain of sales calls and you’ll build a successful book of business.
- The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.
- Sluggish days and bad workouts maintain the compound gains you accrued from previous good days. Simply doing something—ten squats, five sprints, a push-up, anything really—is huge. 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.
- The dark side of tracking a particular behavior is that we become driven by the number rather than the purpose behind it.
- Named after the economist Charles Goodhart, the principle states, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” Measurement is only useful when it guides you and adds context to a larger picture, not when it consumes you. Each number is simply one piece of feedback in the overall system.
- 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.
- 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.
- A habit contract is a verbal or written agreement in which you state your commitment to a particular habit and the punishment that will occur if you don’t follow through. Then you find one or two people to act as your accountability partners and sign off on the contract with you.
- 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.
- 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.
- The human brain loves a challenge, but only if it is within an optimal zone of difficulty.
- The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
- 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 of habits is that you get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention to little errors. You assume you’re getting better because you’re gaining experience. In reality, you are merely reinforcing your current habits—not improving them.
- Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
- The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside is that we stop paying attention to little errors.
- 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.
- The holy grail of habit change is not a single 1 percent improvement, but a thousand of them. It’s a bunch of atomic habits stacking up, each one a fundamental unit of the overall system.
- The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements.