In my life I’ve always been a very goal-centred person, feeling very motivated to go through with my goals but getting bogged down in the details. This, I believe, is one of my greatest flaws as a person. Many times I’ve felt on a whim that I can get my life onto the exact path that I think is ideal in a flash, but that just isn’t true. This is mainly what “Atomic Habits” highlights; the importance of small habits over time that build up to the big goal. I was very interested in this book as I began to read it because of it’s use of tested data, and systems. I have a hard time with doing work or envisioning things when I don’t know the purpose behind it. This, I’ve realized is why I’ve failed in the past when it comes to consistent habits that will lead to the goal; it’s because I didn’t understand how to properly ‘manipulate’ my brain. The systems and data highlighted in this book really excited me, and opened me up new areas of thinking, where I’ve never been before, and I feel optimistic about implementing them into my life.
In “Atomic Habits” there are four main sections that encompass the information of successfully creating and maintaining habits. They are:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
These four sections include life-examples, systems, data, and stories for context (among other factors as well). I will go into more detail below about my thoughts about them, and what I took away from each section. My goals throughout reading the book were to develop my habits of time management, spending my time doing healthy productive things, and maintaining a clean space.
MAKE IT OBVIOUS
This section was basically what you’d expect from the title “make your habits obvious”. Being clear and concise with yourself and ‘the universe’ about your goal can make the biggest difference in your success. I found the example of the success of the Japanese Railway due to their use of the system “Pointing-and Calling” (the use of verbal and conscious signals for good communication and safety) very interesting, and the statistics blew my mind.
“Pointing-and-Calling reduces errors by up to 85 percent and cuts accidents by 30 percent.”
So simple, yet so effective.
This section then challenged me to write down a basic daily routine of mine, and evaluate it. Labeling the event positive(+), negative (-), or neutral (=). This is mine:
Wake up =
Brush teeth +
Eat oatmeal +
Get dressed =
Watch a youtube video –
Go to school =
Make/eat lunch +
Karate practice +
Time with family +
I definitely took a lot away from this activity, as spending time on electronics is something that I really want to limit in my life. It was a bit of a wake-up call to understand that I am on it too much, and a new active goal was created, limiting my use of electronics by replacing it with better and healthier things, using systems from “Atomic Habits” to facilitate.
“The first step to changing bad habits is to be on the look-out for them”
MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE
One of my main take-aways from this section was how the book explained human temptation and desire.
“After spending hundreds of thousands of years hunting and foraging for food in the wild, the human brain has evolved to place a high value on salt, sugar, and fat. Such foods are often calorie-dense and they were quite rare when our ancient ancestors were roaming the savannah. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, eating as much as possible is an excellent strategy for survival.”
I find ideas much easier to understand when they’re put into the perspective of evolution and primal instincts. The whole need for ‘manipulation’ of the brain through systems is because most human brains aren’t wired to stay doing habits that don’t either provide a necessary service, or are pleasurable. Another part of this section that stuck with me was the system “The habit stacking + temptation bundling formula”
After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].
After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].”
Examples of this for me would be:
After I shower, I will tidy up my bedroom.
After I tidy my bedroom, I will invite my dad in and we will play cards.
After I spend time with family, I will read 2 chapters of my book.
After I read, I will have my evening treat.
MAKE IT EASY
This section was more about the fact that if you really want your habits to be successful, you have to make sacrifices but also plan ahead and set yourself up for success. If your goal is to lose weight, keep apples on the counter in plain sight, and keep little to no unhealthy food around the house. When you feel really hungry, your instincts will go to what’s closest and most satisfying, and with fruit there available for you in those inevitable moments, you are going to choose the healthier option way easier. That was just one example though, there are always ways to help yourself out, and make the process easier, you just need to take the steps.
One of the tasks in this section was to complete an implementation intention, in the form “I will [activity] at [time] in [place]” , some that I made for myself were:
I will plan out my day at 7:30 at my dining room table.
I will read books on leadership and history at 8:45 pm on my couch in the living room.
MAKE IT SATISFYING
In the end of the book, it concludes with the idea of making your atomic habits satisfying, which is quite different than the three previous sections. The first three sections “make it obvious”, “make it attractive”, and “make it easy” were mostly based around getting yourself to do the task, whereas “make it satisfying” could be even more important because it is the one that touches on actually repeating the task, making it into a habit. The reason that I workout at my gym regularly isn’t primarily because it keeps me in shape, or is a healthy thing for me to do, but I always come back to it because I love it. Over the years, I’ve developed a system that always keeps me motivated to maintain the habit, and leaves me feeling amazing afterwards, and I find great satisfaction in that. With my goals to develop my habits of time management, to spend my time doing healthy productive things, and to maintain a clean space, I know that there will be setbacks as there always are. I may be a person who needs to work on self-management and detailing my plans, by no means am I not a hard worker. I take pride in the things that I develop and put my time into and I have gained satisfying successes in my life. Using these new strategies I’ve learned in “Atomic Habits” I will most definitely be seeing improvements in my goals, and in my life.