This blog post is a summary of the book “Atomic Habits” written by James Clear.
Like many of you, I too used to write/set resolutions, mostly around my birthday or New year and used to get disappointed in consequent days with the broken resolutions. The realisation that I am not yet the person I actually want to be or the feelings that my life is still floating because of something I need to fix with my effort made it myself irresistible to set resolutions repeatedly on aforementioned occasions year after year despite the breaking which follow up.
But once I happen to read the book titled “Atomic Habits” written by James Clear, things I envisaged started to move gradually towards accomplishment and the heaviness with broken resolutions fade away. The book is not about drastic changes, it is all about enjoying the steps towards visible changes. I am enjoying the serene wait to see the person I want to be with full confidence. So, I would like to write a brief review on this book.
Tiny changes in the trajectory of our life can lead us to different destinations. The habits have the power to impact these trajectories. So, it is important to follow the right trajectory to reach the desired destination. The book explains how small changes in our day today habits can control the trajectory as per our wish. We are our habits. As the author rightly said “A slight change in your daily habit can guide your life to a very different destination”. That is the power of “Atomic Habits”.
Our mind is conditioned to believe massive success is followed by massive action. We often use the word hard work in place of massive action. We focus to deliver an immediate leap in our visible result to gain others attention. But to make an incredible change, we need to follow tiny improvements which are not even noticeable at initial stage. The author explained it mathematically that 1 % better every day can compound to 38% better version of you by the end of an year. Whereas on the other hand, 1 % worse everyday can bring you to zero by an year. The habits which can compound against you are mentioned as negative self-talk, stress etc. and the habits that can compound for us are knowledge gain, fitness, skill development and positive relationships. The book makes us realize success is not a result of once in a life time transformation, but a product of daily habits.
As the title picture demonstrates, incredible accomplishment often crosses a valley of disappointment. Most people fail to cross it expecting linear progress. You can notice the region marked as “valley of disappoitment” where the progresses are very feeble to notice but there is a slow progress which become significant eventually. Perseverance is the key to compounded success.
We often frame resolutions with a focus on goals. The book enables us to focus on the system that lead to the goals. The winner and the loser would have pursued the same goal. So, no matter whatever the goal, you need to make progress in the right direction. The author put forward a statement “Goals are good for setting a direction but systems are best for making progress”. So, I reframed my resolutions with focus on the system instead of goals.
Little changes in the daily activities can bring incremental positive changes in life. The book explains, behavioral change is constituted from three layers such as the outcome, processes and identity. For instance, if your expected outcome is losing weight, the processes include maintaining a workout routine and diet. Most of us focus on the outcome. But the author conveys, we need to focus on the identity, that is the person we want to become instead of the outcome. When we say to ourself and to others that we are physically fit, we naturally start to pay attention to the system required to achieve the goal. So, the primary goal has to be identity change. Instead of bothering about the amount of weight you will loss, start ensuring yourself you are a person who don’t want to miss workout in any day and you dislike unhealthy food.
Resolutions often fail because we don’t develop the habit required to accomplish whatever we set in resolution. Habit formation follows a loop cue-craving-response-reward. We have to continuously make progress in the feedback loop. Our mind going to a low phase of blankness when doing a work is an example of cue, then we crave to overcome this mind set and as a response we check social media and get a short-term reward of happiness. Here, the cue actually lead us to 30 minute waste of time. If we repeat it few times, the habit become automated and it will influence on actual essence of what we really need through our resolution. The book gives us an awareness about good and bad habit loops and how to ensure we are striving towards good habit formation.
No matter how effective steps we take, there will be days where life interrupt you. Lost days used to hurt us more compared to the pleasant feeling a good day can bring. So, we should be conscious enough to maintain the consistency. You can miss a day when life make an unmanageable interruption but we have to take steps to not repeat it continuously. If you are unable to read 10 pages in your routine for some days, just read at least few pages on such days so that you can maintain the chain of habit without breakage.
I strongly encourage you to read the book atomic habits. I appreciate and took up the contents of the book which enhance the quality of my life and could feel the positive changes. It is possible that your approach and perception about the book can be different. After reading the book, my mindset is now relaxed and focused on the small progresses I make every day instead of worrying about the immediate visible results.