Atomic Habits by James Clear is a powerful guide to creating positive changes in your life by focusing on small, incremental changes in daily habits. As someone who has struggled with developing and maintaining good habits, I found this book to be both inspiring and actionable.
In this review, I’ll summarize the five key points I learnt and how to apply it in my daily life. I hope through that you also can identify how this can help you as well.
Atomic Habits 1 – Consistency
In the book, James shares a story about comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his “don’t break the chain” method for productivity. Seinfeld believed that the key to becoming a better comedian was to write every day.
To motivate himself, he put a calendar on his wall and marked a big X over each day that he wrote. His goal was to never break the chain. This simple but effective technique allowed him to build a consistent writing habit, which eventually led to his success.
Application: One way to apply this concept is to create a morning routine. As we’ve seen, a key component of habit formation is consistency. A morning routine is a powerful way to establish consistency in your day. By creating a set of habits that you do every morning, you can kickstart your day in a positive way. Here’s an example of my morning routine:
- Wake up at the same time every weekday when I work from home
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Exercise for 20 minutes
- Meditate for 5 minutes
- Read 20 pages from my selected book of the month (like this book)
- Start work
By stacking these habits, I can create a morning routine that supports my overall goals. Plus, since I’m doing them every day, they’ll become ingrained habits that I’ll do without thinking.
Habits 2 – Small, incremental changes
Atomic Habits are small, incremental changes that we make in our daily lives. They may seem insignificant on their own, but over time, they can have a profound impact on our lives. By defining ourselves as the type of person who performs a certain habit, we can create lasting change in our lives.
In the book, James tells the story of how British Cycling improved their performance by focusing on small, incremental changes. They didn’t just focus on the big things like training and equipment, but also on the small things like improving the ergonomics of the seats. All of these small improvements added up to a significant improvement in performance.
Application: One way to apply this principle in daily life is to focus on the small things that you can improve on. For example, one of my 2023 target is to improve and get in shape. So I now starting exercise every morning at 7.30am for 20 minutes without fail. I focus on small habits like going for a walk or doing a few push-ups every day. Over time, these small habits will add up to big results.
Atomic Habits 3 – Cue, Craving, Response and Reward 4-step approach
The 4-step “Atomic Habits” system includes cue, craving, response, and reward. By identifying and manipulating these four elements, we can create new habits or break old ones.
The cue is the trigger that initiates the habit, the craving is the desire to perform the habit, the response is the action taken, and the reward is the outcome that reinforces the habit. To create a new habit, we need to make the cue obvious, the craving attractive, the response easy, and the reward satisfying.
In the book, James tells the story of how he quit biting his nails. He identified the cue (when he was bored or stressed), the craving (to relieve the boredom or stress), the response (biting his nails), and the reward (a temporary relief from boredom or stress). By changing the response to something else (like playing with a stress ball), he was able to break the habit.
Application: One way to apply this principle in daily life is to identify the cues and rewards associated with a bad habit, and then come up with a new response that satisfies the same craving. Personally, I tend to eat snacks when I’m stressed. To overcome that, I now change to taking 5-minutes power break instead.
Habits 4 – Environment is key
Environment plays a crucial role in habit formation. By designing our environment to support our desired habits, we can make it easier to stick to them.
In the book, James tells the story of how a reader named Katie was able to create a new habit of writing by changing her environment. She designated a specific area of her house as her “writing area,” and set up a desk with all of the tools she needed. By doing this, she was able to create a clear separation between her writing time and the rest of her day.
Application: One way to apply this principle in daily life is to design your environment to support your desired habits. For example, I designed my reading spot as one corner of my sofa in the living hall. A place where I can feel the breeze in the early morning hearing the morning birds chirping while I complete 20 pages every morning.
Atomic Habits 5 – Habit stacking
Habit stacking is a powerful way to create new habits. By building new habits onto existing habits, we can create a chain reaction of positive habits and make it easier to stick to our habits.
In the book, James tells the story of how he was able to create a new habit of flossing by linking it to an existing habit of brushing his teeth. He would always floss right after brushing his teeth, so the two habits became linked in his mind.
Application: One way to apply this principle in daily life is to identify an existing habit that you do every day, and then link a new habit to it. For example, every morning if you want to start meditating, I try doing it right after my morning exercise. It helps to calm myself.
So Who Should Read This Book?
In conclusion, Atomic Habits is a must-read book for anyone looking to create positive change in their lives. By focusing on small, incremental changes and identity-based habits, you can create lasting change and achieve your goals. The 4-step “Atomic Habits” system, environment design, and habit stacking are powerful tools that can help create new habits and break old ones.
The examples and practical advice in this book are actionable and relatable, making it an easy and enjoyable read. If you want to take control of your life and create positive change, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s an investment in yourself and your future, and I’m confident that you’ll find it to be well worth the read.
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