Atomic Habits by James Clear

How small steps you need to take ?

British cycling team have an “aggregation of marginal gains, like 1% improvement on everything.

Often, we convince our-self massive success require massive action. We put pressure on our-self to make earth shattering improvement.

Habits is the compound interest of self-improvement. Success is a product of daily habit, not once a life time thing. Habit often appears to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock new level of performance. Result had little to do with the goals and nearly everything to do with the system followed.

Goals are good for setting direction, but systems are best for making progress. The main problems for goal over system is

  • Winner and loser have the same goal
  • Achieving goal is only momentary change – We need to solve problem at system level , fix the input and output for themselves
  • Goal restrict your happiness
  • Goals are at odd with long term progress

Changing habit is challenging because we often try to change the wrong thing, and we try to change it the wrong way.

3 level of changes

  1. Change your outcome – change result
  2. Chang your process – Habit we build
  3. Change your identity – belief, worldview, assumption

Behavior that is in-congruent with self will not last. Ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit become part of your identity.

2 Step process to changing your identity. Every belief, is learned and conditioned the rough experience. The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated. When you repeat the action, evidence accumulated and self image begin to change.

Each action you take is a vote for type of person you wish to be.

  1. Decide the type of person you want to be
  2. Prove it to yourself with small wins

Habit is not about having something, but becoming someone.

When you face a problem repeatedly, your brain begin to automate process and solve it. Habit is just memory of steps you previously followed to solve a problem in past.

 Science of habit CUE > Craving ( desire to change internal state)  > Response (through / action if action require more effort that you willing to spend, then you wont do it ) > Reward (Satisfying our craving, action to remember )

4 Law of Behave change

Good HabitBad Habit
CueMake it ObviousMake it invisible
CraveMake it attractiveMake it unattractive
ResponseMake it easyMake it difficult
RewardMake it satisfyingMake it unsatisfying

You don’t need to be aware of the cue for habit to begin. The cue speaks out habit become so common that they are essentially invisible – we must begin process of behavior change with awareness. By “pointing and calling “, we raise level of awareness from non conscious habit to a more conscious level. Say our loud the action you are thinking of taking and what outcome will be.

Implantation intention is a plan you make before-head about when / where to act. “When X arises, i will perform response Y.”. People will make a specific plan for when/where they will perform a new habit are likely to follow though. Tendency for one purchase after another , as we often decide what to do next based on what you just did.

Tie your desire behavior into something you already do each day. Habit stocking work best when cue is highly specific and immediate actionable.

People choose product because what they are, but where they are . Every habit is initiated by a cue, and we are likely to notice the cue that stand out. Create obvious visual cue. The most persistent behavior usually have multiple cues.

Habit can also change easily in a new environment. “One space, one use.” – Don’t mix context with habit. Addiction could spontaneously dissolve if radical change in environment. Once a habit has been encoded, urge to act follow where the environment cue appear. You can break a habit but unlikely to forget it.

Super-normal stimuli is a heightened version of reality which elicit a strong response than usual. If you want to increase the odds a behavior will occur, then you need to make it attractive. Habits are dopamine driven feedback loop. Dopamine is released when you experience pleasure, also when you anticipate it. Anticipation of rewards, not fulfillment , get us to take action. Desire is the engine that drive behavior. Temptation bundling – we can link one other thing you want to do + one action you need to do. You are more likely to find a behavior attractive if you get to do one of your favorite things at the same time. We can move from “new habit” > Habit i need > Habit i want.

Whatever habit is normal in your culture are most attractive. Social norms are invisible rule that guide your behavior every day.

  1. We initiate the dose, we pick up habit from people around us. One of most effective things you can do to building better habit is join a culture where desired behavior is normal.Nothing sustain motivation better than belong to a tribe
  2. Imitating the money. When we unsure to act, we look to group that guide our behavior. Human minds wants to get along with others. When changing habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive. When change means fitting in, its attractive
  3. Imitating the Powerful : We draw to behavior that earn us respect, approval, admiration. Once we fit in, we looking for ways to stand out.

Each behavior has a surface level craving and deeper, underlying motive. A curving is a specific manifestation of deeper underlying motive. A craving is the sense the something is missing, desire to change internal state. The gap between current state and desired state provide a reason to act. Habit are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings. You don’t have to do anything, you get to. We can have a “motivation ritual”, a conditioning yourself before playing the game.

We are focusing on figuring out the best approach that we can get around to take action, Biggest reason why we slip into nothing rather than action is we want to avoid failure. When preparation become a form of procrastination, you need to change something, you don’t want planning, you want to be practicing, you just need to get your reps in. Each time you repeat an action, you are circulating a particular neutral circuit associated. Habits form base on frequency, not time.

Law of least effort : Energy is precious, brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible. The least energy a habit require, the more likely its to occur. Every habit is just an obstacle getting what you really want. Habits are easier to build when they go into flow of your life. When we remove the point of friction the time / energy, we can achieve more with less effort. Central idea is to create an environment that doing the right things as easy as procrastinate.

Habits are like the entrance ramp to a high way. Lead you down a path and next behavior. We can use the 2 min rule : When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 mins to do. A habit most be established before it can be improved, you have to standardize before optimize.

The more you ritualize beginning of a large routine.

Sometimes success is less about making good habit easy and more about making bad habit hard. A commitment device is a choice you make in present that control your action in future. Its a way to lock in future behavior, bind to good habit and restrict from bad one. The best way to break a had habit is to make it impractical to do. Increase the friction until you don’t even have option to act.

Behavior change make it satisfying. Pleasure teach your brain that a behavior worth remembering and repeating. Cardinal rule of behavior : What is rewarded is repeated, what is punished is avoided. Human brain did not evolve for life in a delay return environment. “Cost of your good habit are in present, cost of bad habit are in future.” The more immediate pleasure from an action, the more strongly you should question if its align your long term goal. Add a little bit of immediate pleasure to habit that payoff in long run and little immediate pain to one that doesn’t. Immediate reinforcement can be helpful when dealing habit of avoidance – things you want to stop doing,. Short term reward should align your long term goal.

Making progress is satisfying, and visual measure provide clear confidence of your progress. “Don’t break the chain ” is a powerful mantra. How to recover when habit break down ? Never miss twice. If a miss one day, i will get back as possibly as possible. We fall into this “all or nothing” cycle with our habit. The problem is if you cant do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do at all.

when we optimize what we measure, what we choose the wrong measurement, we get the wrong behavior.

The more immediate the pain, the less likely the behavior. Gene do not determine your destiny.They determine your area of opportunity. How to find gene work in your favor ? 80% exploit and 20% explore.

When you cant win by being better you can win by being different. By combing skill, you reduce level of competition. Successful people feel the same lack of motivation, different is that they still find a way to show up despite feeling of boredom.

Upside of habit is that we can do something without thinking. Yet the downside is that you get used to do things and stop pay attention to error

Until next time !

Get the book here >>


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