Atomic Habits


Good habits unlock potential and compound overtime to great result. The four phases of the habit include cue, craving, response and reward. Clear seeks to synthesize various bodies of work in order to create an actionable operating manual for how to improve your habits and, by result, your life.

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Key Takeaways

  1. He starts the book out with the story of how he got slammed with a baseball bat in the face and how this ruined him physically for years. He was forced to relearn how to walk and this helped him develop discipline and consistency. He didn’t become a pro baseball player, but he did fulfill his potential
  2. A habit is a routine that is done frequently, often automatically. Changes that seem small and insignificant at first or compound over the years and make a world of difference. Habits are the compound interest of self improvement
  3. Focus on trajectory over results. You get what you repeat – your life is an accumulation of your lagging habits.
  4. Systems > Goals. You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems
  5. True behavior change requires identity change
  6. When the habit levers are in the right place, creating healthy habits becomes effortless
    1. Cue – make it obvious
    2. Craving – make it attractive
    3. Response – make it easy
    4. Reward – make it satisfying
    5. The inversion of the 4 above can help you stop doing things too (make it non-obvious, make it unattractive, make it hard, make it painful)
  7. The process for behavior change always begins with awareness
  8. When implementing a new habit, say what you’re going to do when and where helps increase the likelihood you’ll do it. Another powerful process is habit stacking – using the habits you already have in place to cue new habits you want to form
  9. Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more. Design your environment to be productive and have visual cues to trigger healthy habits. Do your best to design it to also avoid any negative temptations
    1. Proximity is powerful. One of the most powerful things you can do is join a group or culture that exhibits traits you want to emulate. We copy and seek approval of the close, the many, the successful
  10. If you want to master something, simply start. Repetition is better than a perfect plan. Quantity leads to quality. The right question is not “how long will it take to form a new habit?” but “how many will it take to form a new habit?”
  11. 2 minute rule – make new habits as easy as possible, they should take less than 2 minutes to start. Standardize before you optimize
  12. Make good choices as automatic as possible and unhealthy choices as difficult as possible. Here are some 1 time actions that have recurring benefits
    1. Nutrition and health – buy a water filter, use smaller plates, remove tv from bedroom, buy blackout curtains, buy a great mattress, buy great shoes, use a standing desk
    2. Productivity – unsubscribe from emails, turn off notifications, set phone to silent, delete games and social media apps,
    3. Happiness – get a pet, move to a friendly neighborhood,
    4. Finance – setup auto payments, delete recurring services you no longer use, ask service providers for lower prices, auto enroll in buying stocks every quarter and rebalancing,
  13. Habit tracking, habit contracts, and accountability partners are wonderful ways to start positive habits or stop unhealthy ones
  14. Make sure to take your interests and proclivities into account. What comes easy to you that is hard for others?
  15. One of the things that separates the greats is that they welcome the boredom. They’re willing to stick with it even when they’re not in the mood or want to do something else. The greatest threat to success is not failure, but boredom
  16. The downside of habits is when they become such an entrenched part of your identity that you can’t see beyond them

What I got out of it

  1.  Clear does an admirable job of making a relatively obscure concept of “habits” very pragmatic and actionable. He provides real and concrete examples and catchy 1-liners to help cement them in your mind.

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