I picked up Atomic Habits on a whim. To be honest, it's not entirely easy finding “new” books in Bali and I was drawn to the gold cover and the subtitle header, “An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.” I read Atomic Habits, then proceeded to re-read it. (It’s that good.) The author, James Clear, knows firsthand the power of good habits. When he was a senior in high school, an elite baseball player, a loose bat hit him in his face. This accident led to a broken nose, dangerous brain swellings, dislocated eyes, and fractures; his recovery took months. I almost threw up when reading this section in the book, actually as he described the incident with such detail and emotion. To get his own baseball career back on track after this terrible injury, he had to rely on the power of small gains over a long period of time. Once in college, he learned to implement and keep these *new* good habits and was eventually chosen as one of just 33 players for the All-American Academic team.
Today, he is one of the most popular habit researchers. Atomic Habits has become the definitive guide on the topic and sold millions of copies. I love the author’s ability to break down habit formation into simple steps that can be used to create or break habits of all kinds, for every type of person and their individual goals.
To optimize your environment, make the cues of your good habits obvious and the cues of your bad habits invisible. If you want to read more and watch less tv, unplug the tv and put it in a closet, layout some books on an end table, or put one on your pillow to read before bed. If you don’t want to drink, you might want to avoid after-work happy hours. We’re socialized to go along with the group. That’s why surrounding ourselves with people who have similar goals to ourselves is so important.
If you want to change your habits long-term, you must change how you identify with (or without) them. For example, two smokers are trying to break the habit. When offered a cigarette, person #1 says, “no thanks, I’m trying to quit.” Person #2 says, “no thanks, I don’t smoke.” Person #2 has stopped self-identifying as a smoker and is not less-likely to accept the cigarette, as well as less-likely to be offered another cigarette in the future. Obviously, this behavior (and result of this behavior) will help to break their habit faster.
Say you want to create a habit of exercising regularly. You begin to implement a regular movement schedule, get a gym membership and start working out and playing sports at the gym’s recreational center with friends. After a few months of this regular movement and athleticism, you wouldn't identify as someone who goes to the gym 3 times a week; you would identify as an athletic person. You can ask yourself, “what would an athletic person do in this situation?”
For example, let’s say you want to add more fruit to your diet.
You can apply these systems to all kinds of good habits; meditating, reading more, stretching, journaling, and so on.
Conversely, do the opposite to break bad habits. Make them invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying. For example, you could throw out your cigarettes, add financial penalties, get rid of all lighters, and only allow yourself to smoke outside in the cold.
I found Atomic Habits to be an entertaining, engaging, and easy to read. You’ll learn about the science of habits through real life examples and be able to quickly implement changes in your life. Since reading the book, I’ve been able to implement his teachings at home, in my office and my exercise routine. I re-organized my desk and work space to better facilitate my productivity, tweaked certain habits I practiced unconsciously with social media and have implemented small changes to help me achieve more work without necessarily spending more time in my office. As the author writes, “Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. Building habits in the present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.” I love that! I hope this book inspires and motivates you as much as it does me!