This season of lockdown, I prefer to commit myself to productive stuff such as reading books. It’s my delight to share with you the insights I learned from the book “Atomic Habits”.
Are you tired of living with your bad habits and having no control over them? How can you make change as easy as possible?
The book written by New York Times bestselling author, James Clear, is packed with evidence-based self-improvement strategies to teach you how to make small changes that transform to habits and deliver remarkable results. These are the key points:
1️⃣ There are four laws of Creating a Good Habit.
1st Law – Make it Obvious
- Use implementation intentions: I will [behavior] at [Time] in [Location] (i.e. I will work out at 9am at the gym).
- Use habit stacking: “After [Current Activity], I will [New Activity] (i.e. after I finished lunch, I will start to read the first chapter).
2nd Law – Make it Attractive
- Use temptation bundling by pairing an action you want to do with an action you need to do (i.e. Bundle your drinking coffee and reading books).
3rd Law-Make it Easy
- Prime your environment by preparing your environment to make your future action easier (i.e. store only fresh vegetable and lean meat inside your refrigerator, remove all unhealthy foods).
- Use two-minute rule by downscaling your habits (i.e. “Run 3 miles tomorrow” becomes “Tie my running shoes”)
4th Law-Make it Satisfying
- Use habit tracker by keeping track your habit streak and “don’t break the chain”. Never miss twice!
2️⃣ Inversely, there are four laws of Breaking a Bad Habit.
1st Law – Make it Invisible
- Reduce exposure by removing the cues of your bad habits from your environment (i.e. if you are wasting too much time watching TV, move the TV out of the bedroom)
2nd Law – Make it Unattractive
- Reframe your mindset by highlighting the benefits of avoiding your bad habits (i.e. you think that smoking is about relieving stress, but it’s not, smoking does not relieve your nerves, it destroys them).
3rd Law – Make it Difficult
- Increase your friction by increasing the number of steps between you and your bad habits (i.e. sign-out all social media apps and accumulate it in one folder. Then, locate this on the difficult area of your phone).
4th Law-Make it Unsatisfying
- Get an accountability partner. Ask someone to watch your behavior. Make the cost of your bad habit public and painful (i.e. ask your close friend to make a deal to monitor your workout routine and impose that you’ll pay him for a treat and punish you to intensify the difficulty of your workout).
3️⃣ One percent (1%) better every day on any activity has a massive impact because the effect of small habits compound overtime. (i.e. one percent worse every day for one year=0.99^365=00.03 rather than one percent better every day for one year=1.01^365=37.78).
4️⃣ In reality, expect that the results of your efforts are delayed. It is called the “valley of disappointment” where people feel disappointed after weeks and months of hard work without experiencing any results. Most powerful outcomes are delayed.
5️⃣ To enhance your performance to reach your goals, you have to focus on the change of your identity rather than focus on the outcome. With this, you spearhead the high qualities or self-image of who you wish to become. Then, change the process by doing what you need to do to achieve your desired outcomes.
6️⃣ Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Motivation is overrated; environment often matters more.
7️⃣ The biggest reason why you slip into motion instead of action: you want to delay your failure.
In a nutshell, Atomic Habits is about looking at improvement as adding a grain of sand to the positive side of scale, slowly tilting things in your favor. Eventually, if you stick with it, you hit a tipping point and the weight of the system is working for you rather than against you.
NOTE: Rodel Garcia is a former student of the American Institute for English Proficiency. He is a civil engineer and a financial advisor.