Book Review: Atomic Habits
The book is a very practical book, it has very detailed steps to help you build habits & break bad ones.
The author kindly puts the cheat sheet online: https://s3.amazonaws.com/jamesclear/Atomic+Habits/Habits+Cheat+Sheet.pdf
The cheat sheet categorized the steps in his four-step model of habits - cue, craving, response, and reward - and the four laws of behavior change that evolve out of these steps.
Most tips in this book I've already been doing, but it helps me to develop a framework to understand the whole flow a bit deeper.
That said, I think the four-step model is better for someone who's already known what habits to build and what to break.
Many times my struggle is not knowing what is a better habit for my own goal, therefore not convinced enough to invest in such habits - once I know a habit is benefiting me, I can stick with it.
Identity change is the key #
My biggest take-away from the book is not the concrete steps/instructions, it is the habit-identity shaping theory.
Some highlights from the section:
How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa):
- Changing our habits is challenging for two reasons:
- We try to change the wrong thing and
- We try to change our habits in the wrong way.
- 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.
- Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
- Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
The mindset change is from:
Outcomes -> Processes -> Identity to
Identity -> Processes -> Outcomes.
In other words, you don't become a certain type of person because you've done something or established a routine; you naturally understand what routine to have and generate outcomes because you've become a certain type of person, or have started to believe in yourself to be.
For example, my goal is to become a reader. I don't "become" a reader when I check the daily reading habit for 1 year or something.
I should understand that a reader should try to read books more, ideally everyday when I decide to be a reader.
I would also start to think about what else would a reader do that I'm not currently doing - and I should start doing those because I'm a reader!
Back to my struggle of "unknown what habits to build", one possible solution is to ask folks who have the identity I seek to have.
I can ask mentors and friends of mine who read a lot about what habits they have and what their daily routines are.
I don't need to follow all of them, but I can get a better understanding of the commonalities and become a better self.
Start from the identity change, then true habits emerge.
Four laws for habits building #
Creating good habits:
- The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
- The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive
- The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
- The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying
Breaking bad habits:
- Inversion of the 1st Law: Make It Invisible
- Inversion of the 2st Law: Make It Unattractive
- Inversion of the 3rd Law: Make It Difficult
- Inversion of the 4th Law: Make It Unsatisfying