Mastering Atomic Habits
8 min read
TL;DR: Some habit-building tips and tricks.
If you want to change your life, you need to start with your habits.
Atomic habits are the building blocks that make up our lives.
They are the things we do every day, without thinking, that shape our lives.
Tiny changes and baby steps are the way to great changes.
Most of us have never thought about our habits.
We go through the motions, day after day, without giving them much thought.
But if you want to change your life, you need to start with your habits.
The first step is to become aware of your habits.
Habits are automated behaviors that we have learned from experience.
You have to start paying attention to the things you do every day, without thinking.
When you walk through a dark room, you don't think, you try to find the light switch.
What are your morning rituals? What do you do when you first sit down at your desk? What do you do when you get off work?
A habit is a behavior you have repeated several times.
Once you become aware of your habits, you can start to change them. If you want to change your life, you need to start with your habits.
Atomic habits are small habits that you can do every day to improve your life.
Atomic habits are the building blocks of your success.
By creating atomic habits, you can improve your life without feeling overwhelmed.
We learn by trial and error.
We tend to repeat behaviors that give a reward until they become automatic.
Habits begin with a trigger and a desire to change to get a reward.
Habits are formed through a process called "classical conditioning."
This is when we associate a certain stimulus with a certain behavior.
Let’s say you’re trying to form the habit of going to the gym. The stimulus would be the gym itself. And the behavior would be working out.
Every time you see the gym, you’re going to be reminded to work out.
This association will become so strong that you’ll start to work out automatically, without even thinking about it.
This is the power of classical conditioning. And it’s how we form all habits.
Atomic habits are small and easy to do, but they can have a big impact over time.
If you want to eat healthier, you could start by adding a salad to your diet each day.
This small change can lead to big results over time, like losing weight and feeling better.
When it comes to forming new habits, we often underestimate the power of small, incremental changes.
We tell ourselves that we need to make radical overhauls to our lives to see results.
Even the smallest adjustments can lead to big results over time.
This is the principle of “compounding” – small changes compound to create large results. And it’s the key to making lasting change in your life.
Going back to start working out. You know you need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to see results.
But instead of jumping into a strenuous workout routine, you start by walking for 10 minutes a day.
It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a start. And after a week or two, you find that you have more energy and can walk for longer periods.
You keep at it, and you will be able to work your way up to a full 30-minute workout. But it all started with those small, baby steps.
The same principle applies to any area of your life where you want to make a change. Whether you want to eat healthier, quit smoking, or save money, it’s important to start small.
Pick one area to focus on and make a realistic goal. Then, take baby steps each day to move closer to that goal.
Remember, it’s the small, consistent steps that will get you there. So trust the process and be patient. The results will come.
Make the habit as easy to adopt as possible removing all excuses and obstacles.
An Action Plan
All habits are triggered by signals or stimuli.
Turning off all notifications is a plan of action to avoid stimuli (and habits).
We can hack our environment to encourage better habits by reducing harmful stimuli and making triggers more difficult.
A good plan of action requires concrete implementation steps and not vague intentions.
I will go for a walk in the national park at 8:00 PM every night.
This implementation intention is specific about when (8:00 PM), where (the national park), and what (going for a walk) you will do.
Making an implementation intention is a simple way to increase the likelihood of forming a new habit.
But it's not enough to have a plan, you also need to commit to following through with it.
If you're serious about changing your habits, give implementation intentions a try.
We can use records, calendars, notebooks, trackers, logs, and contracts to keep good habits.
A habit tracker is also a healthy habit to keep you motivated.
We are social animals, and sharing our commitment creates peer pressure.
Habits should be attractive.
We do things in anticipation of reward or fear of punishment.
Our brains release dopamine in pleasure situations.
We also release it anticipating them like when we plan a trip.
If we make a habit of something we desire, we will follow it.
We can link an important not-so-desirable behavior to a pleasurable one.
This is Tempation bundling.
This involves pairing an activity you enjoy with one that you find less appealing.
For example, you might allow yourself to watch television only after you have completed a set number of push-ups.
Temptation bundling allows you to indulge in short-term pleasure while still making progress towards your long-term goals.
You will stick to your new habit, as you will be motivated to do the activities you enjoy.
Temptation bundling is not a magic bullet and it will not work in every situation.
It is a useful tool that you can add to your arsenal in the fight against temptation.
We often get impatient when we don’t see immediate results from our efforts.
We want to see drastic changes right away, so we give up when we don’t see them.
But if we can learn to be patient and trust the process, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.
Habits should be immediately satisfying.
We live in a delayed return environment where rewards are far away.
Human brains are designed for immediate reward because this is the way our ancestors survived and evolved.
They had urgent problems like seeking shelter or finding food. No planning ahead was necessary.
We can attach immediate gratification and small rewards before reaching the finish line.
Scrolling on social media apps is easy because it is designed for habit.
We can make them more difficult by introducing artificial barriers.
For example, removing the batteries of the remote control.
Here are some tips for creating atomic habits:
Start small. Don’t try to change everything at once. Choose one small habit that you can easily do every day. Getting started is the most difficult task.
Make it automatic. Set up your environment so that your new habit is as easy as possible to do. For example, if you want to start exercising every day, put your workout clothes next to your bed so you can put them on as soon as you wake up.
Set a reminder. Use a reminder or trigger to help you remember to do your new habit. For example, you could put a note on your bathroom mirror to remind you to brush your teeth.
Be patient. Habits take time to form. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Keep at it and it will become second nature.
Reduce Friction. Make good habits as easy as possible and even more effortless.
Break tasks into baby steps. Follow the 2-minute rule in a small incremental way.
Change your environment
If you want to change your habits, it is important to understand how your environment affects you.
Your environment includes the people around you, your physical surroundings, and your daily routine. Each of these can influence your behavior in different ways.
It is easier to stick to new habits when the people around you support your goals.
If your friends and family are not on board with your plan to change, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Find a friend or family member who will help you stay accountable.
Your physical environment can also influence your behavior.
If your home is cluttered and chaotic, it can be difficult to focus on your goals.
Create a space that is conducive to your new habits. declutter your living space and make time each day to tidy up.
Your daily routine can either help or hinder your efforts to change your habits.
If you fill your days with activities that you don’t enjoy, it will be harder to find the motivation to stick to your goals.
Find ways to incorporate your new habits into your daily routine so that they become second nature.
Making changes to your environment is an important step in changing your habits.
By surrounding yourself with people and things that support your goals, you will be more likely to stick to your new habits and achieve your long-term objectives.
Atomic habits are habits that you can do every day, that will make a big difference in your life.
They are the kind of habits that will help you achieve your goals.
It is up to you.