I finished Atomic Habits yesterday and wanted to write some quick impressions. It definitely deserves a longer post. But I wanted to write something shorter because I’ve wanted to write long book notes posts for other books I really enjoyed and then never got around to it.
First, here’s a tweet from yesterday about one of the core analogies from the book.
Really enjoying @jamesclear's #AtomicHabits. Lots of great imagery to make the concepts sticky. I'll keep reminding myself of the ice cube analogy (poorly animated here by yours truly!) Small habits add up over time even if you don't see the change immediately. pic.twitter.com/44ytwjG06x
— Francis Cortez (@activerecall) October 16, 2018
The small things you do get stored and they add up over time. You won’t see the change for most things immediately but it doesn’t mean the effort is wasted.
Atomic Habits is great because it has (1) long-term strategy for building good habits and breaking down bad habits and (2) effective tactics that you can apply immediately.
- Long-term strategy: Re-framing your views around habits will not be an overnight thing. Just like overnight successes really have years of work backing them, it will take some time to change your views of habits. One big shift is looking at your systems instead of goals. (The NBA season just started. In every game, every team has the same goal—to win—and every game still has a loser.) Another big strategy change is to focus on identities. Knowing the magical “X” for changing a habit takes X amount of days won’t be as effective as focusing on your identity. You’re not a smoker who’s quitting temporarily. You’re not a smoker, period.
- Effective tactics: You can make changes today that will help you with your habits. What do you want to do tomorrow? Say it out loud. “I want to work out tomorrow.” Now add a time. “I want to work out tomorrow, first thing in the morning.” Now say what you’ll do. “I want to do a kettlebell workout tomorrow, first thing in the morning.” Now focus on the first two minutes, and make it easy. “Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, I’ll do some bodyweight get-ups for two minutes. Then I can stop if I want to.”
I’ll write more about the book in (hopefully) the next few days. I really enjoyed it.
P.S. I got through a good chunk of the book using a technique mentioned in the book called temptation bundling:
Temptation bundling works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do. In Byrne’s case, he bundled watching Netflix (the thing he wanted to do) with riding his stationary bike (the thing he needed to do).
Listening to Atomic Habits (the thing I wanted to do) while folding laundry (the thing I needed to do).