Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Atomic Habits (Book Notes)

Earlier this year, I did the 75Hard Challenge. One of the books that many of the people who do the challenge have read and recommend is Atomic Habits - An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear. 

Many of the concepts about habit tracking and focusing on several key smaller habits is something that 75Hard focuses on. So, this book was a reinforcement about what I've been doing already this year. However, what was new was the concept of habit stacking which I've never heard before. It sounds like it would be something beneficial to try. 

Below are notes from the book that I found interesting:

- Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long run.

- Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.

- An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results.

- Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making process. 

- 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.

- Do a habits scorecard to rate your habits. Use a plus sign for positive habits, a minus sign for negative habits, and an equal sign for neutral habits. See atomichabits.com/scorecard

- To set habits, use this formula: 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]. 

- Redesign your environment and make the cues for your preferred habits more obvious. For example, if you want to practice guitar more frequently, place your guitar stand in the middle of the living room. If you want to send more thank you notes, keep a stack of stationery on your desk. 

- Do you want to think more creatively? Move to a bigger room or take a break from the space where you do your daily work, which is also linked to your current thought patterns.

- Cut bad habits off at the source by reducing exposure to the cue that causes it. If you can't get any work done, leave your phone in another room for a few hours. If you're continually feeling like you're not enough, stop following social media accounts that trigger jealousy and envy. 

- Make a habit attractive. Do this by following this formula:

1. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].

2 After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].

If you want to check Facebook, but you need to exercise more:

1. After I pull out my phone, I will do ten burpees (need).

2. After I do ten burpees, I will check Facebook (want). 

- 40-50% of our actions on any given day are done out of habit.

- When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do. Nearly any habit can be scaled dow into a two-minute version:

- "Read before bed each night" becomes "Read one page."

- "Fold the laundry" becomes "Fold one pair of socks."

- Once you do the "gateway habit" that leads you down a more productive path. The point is to show up and start doing the habit.

- Phases of habit shaping for becoming vegan: start eating vegetables at each meal; stop eating animals with four legs (cow, pig, lamb, etc.). Stop eating animals with two legs (chicken, turkey, etc.). Stop eating animals with no legs (fish, clams, scallops, etc.). Stop eating all animal products (eggs, milk, cheese).

- Onetime actions that lock in good habits:

- Nutrition: buy a water filter to clean your drinking water. Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake.

- Sleep: buy a good mattress. Get blackout curtains. Remove your television from your bedroom.

- Productivity: unsubscribe from emails. Turn off notifications and mute group chats. Set your phone to silent. Delete social media apps on your phone.

- Happiness: get a dog.

- General health: get vaccinated. Buy good shoes to avoid back pain.

- Finance: enroll in an automatic savings plan. Set up automatic bill pay. 

- Do habit tracking. Whenever possible, measurement should be automated (e.g., credit card statements, Fitbit, calendar). Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habit. It is better to consistently track one habit than to sporadically track ten. Record each measurement immediately after the habit occurs.

- Never miss a habit twice. The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. 

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