Over the past few months, I have been devoted in a particular assignment that has changed my excitants, big and small. To begin PGP 11, my peers and I have been tasked to read, and live, James Clear’s New York Bestselling book: Atomic Habits.
To prefix the rest of this post, I must articulate to you my surprising enjoyment for the book. This book was informative, fun, and experiential. The moment I began reading this book I was pretty hooked, most days I would plug in and do a little reading, just because I enjoyed it. I read and listened to this book. The moment I heard about the book I had Mr. Hughes plug me in to the audible. I really enjoyed listening to the book, because of my niche for podcasts and it was great to always have it accessible, whether it be on my walk to school or basketball practice.
Atomic Habits is built on the 4 pillars of habits and these 4 laws must be in place to follow through. In this book James Clear does a interesting take on breaking down the complex ideas that incapsulate the art of habits.
The First Law: Make it Obvious
“Every habit is initiated by a cue.”
– James Clear
A day is comprised of hundreds of habits, like code you recite these habits everyday. Think of your habits, positive or negative. These habits come natural and you soon become conditioned as if second nature. Biting my nails is a habit that myself and many others fall victim to, it many times it stems from cues. James Clear says “Habits come natural when we make them obvious”. This first law sets the ground floor and support to build upon with the laws to come.
The case may be the a majority of your habits are negative and are based off these cues, but just as easily you can use these cues to your advantage to grow new and positive habits. James Clear outlines examples on how to manipulate cues and make habits obvious. The main 2 cues to formulate a habit is time and location. Let’s use the example of working out: Ex, I will workout at 3:45 on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays in Parkgate Gym. This layout and template is a addictive, it keeps it simple and obvious.
From there I used an implementation intention for my habit:
I will read every weekday at 9:45 on my desk.
I used habit stacking to make these behaviours defined and obvious:
After I study, I will spend 10 minutes stretching.
The Second Law: Make it Attractive
“Dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it.”
– James Clear
Just because your habits are obvious does not mean they are simply completed and implemented. Positive habits are a tedious and must be worked on religiously. The second law is: Making It Attractive. The glaring flaw to many of your most formidable habits for aa majority of people, is that these aspirations aren’t attractive. If the only thing habits have going for it are the idea of bettering yourself, there’s a high chance that they won’t be completed.
A goal that is appealing to me is stretching more often, the problem is that I have a low motivation after school, homework, and basketball. James Clear offers a solution, make the habit more appealing. I love listening to podcasts so I came up with the idea of sweeting the deal. This time would carve out a perfect opportunity to consume my favourite media, podcasts! This way I am much more inclined to stretch, rehab, and mediate, often and always.
The beauty of this law is that it can be inverted. Erase those bad habits and making them as unattractive as possible!
The Third Law: Make it Easy
“Rather than trying to overcome the friction in your life, you reduce it.”
– James Clear
Make it Easy! This third law of behaviour change goes hand in hand with the second law. This law states that habits must be easy to complete, or they just won’t stick with you. I would not consider myself lazy by no means, but everyone has a downfall sometimes.
The “Two-Minute Rule”
This rule, according to James Clear, states that when you begin a new habit it must take only 2 minutes. At first, the notion of the two-minute rule seems pointless and unimportant. Yet, after trying it on a habit I learned it is a helpful tool to begin a new habit. I have been trying to begin a habit of writing down a summative description of the day, and the goals I want to complete. This rule give the impression of the goal being easy. Building habits is pure physiology and when you believe it is easy, it will be.
Again, I felt as though you could utilize this law in a opposite manor and destroy negative habits. If you construct an environment that opposes the habit it can make it difficult to continue. The harder and more obvious it is will make it easy to begin ending that habit.
The Fourth Law: Make it Satisfying
“Many of the choices you make today will not benefit you immediately”
– James Clear
The final law, is arguably the most important and is based off the idea that the human brain craves immediate rewards. The reason you watch Netflix all weekend instead of going on a hike, is because we all enjoy immediate over delayed rewards.
I pride myself in knowing my motivations; I know that competition is a prime motivator. During this section I highlighted and noted the habit streaks. Because of the tally system and accountability to not stop the streak it seemed to breach into my competitiveness and crave for satisfaction.
Schedules such as: Things, Calendar, and Notes is a rewarding and satisfying system that is accessible to me. James Clear states that missing twice births an unwanted feeling of carelessness about the habit, and makes it non-priority. These systems are a way to stay accountable of habits, and give you the satisfaction of checking the boxes. Maybe you don’t check the schedule as often as you should? If so I find telling someone who is willing to support you, can help a lot by keeping yourself accountable.
To conclude, this book was short, rewarding, and fun. Whether your a sports enthusiast, gym buff, scholar, or someone trying to turn there life around, this is the book for you. A word that I used often was accountability, if you embrace the 4 laws and find places in your life for them you will succeed, my peers and I are living proof.