A friend once told me they used set recurring daily reminders to read more. “Come on,” I responded, “that would be like paying your rent, filling out school applications and scheduling annual physicals are tasks. Making love, exercising, and sleeping more (maybe the three forms a compelling bundle?) are habits that lie well outside the jurisdiction of the to-do list.
I have re-read the ‘Atomic Habit’ wherein Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones . In this book James Clear managed gives us a playbook for durable and long-lasting habits. In this summary, I will cover why habits don’t stick, the Four Laws of Behavior Change, and the challenge behind “habits of the mind.”
Atomic Habits Compound Like Crazy
The case for habit formation is a compelling one. Internalizing and automating these tiny behaviours sets our lives up for improved health, finances, and career growth. And better versions of ourselves. Despite their tiny size, compounding them over long periods can have exponential impacts.
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement,” writes Clear.
He uses the 1% Rule to illustrate how an Atomic Habit that drives a 1% improvement can logarithmically scale; and how the inverse, being 1% worse, can quickly decay towards a negative asymptote.
Why Habits are hard to break…?
We already know that habits are good for you. Yet why do we fail spectacularly, when it comes to adding a new habit or removing a bad one? James Clear thinks that we fail because we dream too big and do not have the right systems in place:
We start too big:
Clear warns, “Your life goals are not your habits.” You’re unlikely to become a millionaire if you’re not saving in your 401k; You won’t run a marathon if you swap your morning run with the snooze button. It’s great to dream big, but dreaming big can be daunting and unrealistic.
In Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success, Brad Sulberg points out the deceptive nature of “consistently heroic efforts:”
Stulberg argues that we make the mistake of aiming too high. Borrowing an analogy from Moneyball, we try to hit a home run every time we step up to the plate. Not only is that unrealistic but it’s also emotionally exhausting and the perfect recipe for self-loathing.
Systems work better than goals:
Being too outcome-oriented can distract from having the right processes in place to make habits effortless.
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