“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.” – James Clear
Atomic Habits by James Clear, is an excellent book and worth the read. In this book, you would learn how to start good habits, stop bad one. You would also understand why paying attention to what you do on a day-to-day basis matters.
According to Will Durant, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Habit has a significant effect on one’s life over time, and the sooner you start with good habits and stop bad ones, the better your life will be in the short and long run.
As James said, it is easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements daily. Society has taught us that huge success requires massive action. So we often mount pressure on ourselves to make some weighty improvement that would make everyone talk about it.
Although improving by one percent is not notable or noticeable. However, it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference that this one percent improvement can do over time is outstanding.
You might start to think about it now; maybe there are some bad ones you are currently struggling with. It is vital to take note of them and ensure you work on changing because they accumulate into toxic results.
“The outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. The Knowledge you have is a lagging measure of your learning habits” – James Clear
Then you wonder, why is it so easy to repeat bad habits and so hard to form good ones? It often feels difficult to keep the good habit going for more than a few days, even after repeating a few motivational mantras every morning and the likes.
James noted that changing and sticking to good habits is difficult for two reasons; we try to change the wrong things, and we try to change it in the wrong way. In light of this, there are three layers of behavior change, outcome, process, and identity. The outcome is about what you get, the process is about what you do, and identity is about what you believe. The core of behavior change will reflect on your habits and your outcomes much more effectively if you start with your identity. Decide the type of person you want to be, prove it with small wins.
Here are four laws of behavior change for the process of Habits with an example each to make you understand better:
Make it obvious. “Don’t hide your fruits in your fridge; put them on display front and center.” According to Carl, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”
Make it attractive. “Start with the fruit you like the most, so you’ll want to eat one when you see it.”
Make it easy. “Don’t create needless friction by focusing on fruits that are hard to peel. Bananas and apples are super easy to eat, for example”.
Make it satisfying. “If you like the fruit you picked, you’ll love eating it and feel healthier as a result!”
With this kind of framework, it is essential you keep yourself accountable and not get overwhelmed. An easy way to do this is to track and visualize your progress – this will make you happy with yourself when you see how far you have come. According to James, “Measurement offers one way to overcome blindness to our behavior and notice what’s going on each day. When the evidence is right in front of you, you’re less likely to lie to yourself.”
Please note that this is just a summary of Atomic Habits, and lots of information and examples were left out. Therefore, I would recommend that to understand the concepts, you should read the book.