People always tell me “good things come in small packages”.
They tell me this because I’m short. They use it as a way to make me feel better. It doesn’t. However that does not mean it’s not true.
In Atomic Habits by James Clear , the notion that small things make the biggest difference is proved over and over within the 297 pages of the book.
It’s called Atomic Habits for two reasons:
1.) the word atomic is usually associated with atomic bombs which are the effect of an atomic level chain reaction, and the book talks about how small changes can cause a chain reaction to better your habits and reach your goals.
2.) the lessons in the book are all about how making small changes lead to big differences. How bettering yourself 1% a day will make all the difference in the world.
The book is split into four laws:
- The First Law: Make it Obvious
- The Second Law: Make it Attractive
- The Third Law: Make it Easy
- The Fourth Law: Make it Satisfying
—Make It Obvious—
I’ve been riding bikes since I was little. I know how to ride a bike and I do it easily. It’s habitual for me.
Hands on the handlebars > Leg over each side > Sit on seat > One foot on the pedal > Push off > Other foot on the pedal > Spin peddles to keep moving > Use handlebars to control direction
Easy. I do it automatically without having to think about it. It’s a habit I formed years ago that has never faded.
In the first section of Atomic Habits, it’s all about making systems that make your main goals come to life. The whole book is about that, but the first part is about the programming; the wee systems that make it happen. Even just fitting new systems into old ones.
This is my Habit Scorecard:
In it is my daily routine (to a certain degree) and weather or not the habits in it are good or bad or neutral. Many are neutral or good, and one or two are bad. But there are a few new habits I’ve been looking to integrate into my life.
Every month I write out a list of things I want to do to better my future self. I have this up on my mirror and since reading this book have found some good ways to simply integrate my already existing goals into better systems and plans.
This is my Habit Stacker
In this I chose some habits I’ve been wanting to pick up and planned where I would fit it into my day. By doing this I am taking the steps to slowly make little changes for my mental wellbeing and making time for things I enjoy.
And the final step of making my new habits obvious and real was my Implementation Intention assignment
In it is the simple act of planning the when’s and where’s of making my habits happen. In this case it was implementing meditation into my morning routine which makes it an obvious and simple task per day.
—Make It Attractive—
The happy hormone: Dopamine.
That’s what your body supplies you with when you succeed at something. Feeling happy is your body’s reward for doing something well. Like getting biceps from going to the gym or being able to hold your breath underwater after a swimming class. In the second part of Atomic Habits we learnt about how to use that rewarding feeling to our advantage.
The facts are: the more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. We can use this to our advantage.
As people we like the idea of rewards, so we are motivated by the anticipation for one. Whether that reward is a candy-bar, a new car, or just the satisfying feeling of happiness when the task is complete, it’s how we can motivate ourselves better our habits.
I use this system all the time for getting work done.
“just finish it and you can do whatever for the rest of the day/night”
And it works. well. Because I just want to do fun things like paint or watch tv (lazy, but enjoyable).
In conclusion:: Make things enjoyable, and motivation will follow.
—Make It Easy—
As people we are motivated to do what is easy. It’s all about starting small and easy and working up to big and still easy.
The easier a habit is, the more likely we are to get it done. For example: wanting to read more. I’ve followed the steps;
- Included it into my daily schedule plan
- Decided a good time and place for it
- Written out how I will make it happen
But I keep forgetting. How does one fix forgetfulness?
- Make a trigger reminder, and make it easy.
Placing a book on my pillow in the morning will remind me that as I get into bed I should read for a bit before going to sleep.
Easy > Effective > Repetition = Habits > Reading before bed becomes a habit.
“repetition is a form of change” —Atomic Habits, 144.21.5
It’s simple human coding.
—Make It Satisfying—
So if habits are simple human coding, what is the end result?
If an experience is satisfying we are more likely to repeat it (dopamine/chocolate bar/new car/Reward=Satisfaction). If an experience is unsatisfying we are more likely to avoid it. This is how we can create and break habits.
A bad habit? Make it unsatisfying.
Want to create good habits? Make them satisfying.
“what is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided” — Atomic Habits, 189.25.2
Habits are chain reactions. Like the atomic bomb, the chain reaction is what creates the habit. At the end of the atomic bombs chain reaction, the satisfaction is that it blows up. A lot. For a habit the satisfaction at the end of the chain can vary, but it’s always there. Good or bad. Breaking the chain ruins the habit and removed the satisfaction.
That’s how you keep a solid habit. Make the chain and don’t break it. One of the most satisfying feelings is making progress, so keeping that chain going will result in satisfaction and habitualization.
This is my habit contract
This is how I am going to keep myself responsible for forming a good chain and a good habit. The contract keeps me under the eye of others to make sure I am on track with my habit making goals and not break the chain.
Human coding. Habits and goals. All those good things.
This book has been really interesting to read because it’s different. It doesn’t say “plan goals and make them happen”. It says “habits help you become more than your goals. You become the person you want to be when the goal is complete.” And that’s pretty reasonable to me.
On a scale from one to ten this book is a 9.99/10. There’s always room for improvement. That never changes.
I learnt a lot reading this book, and I look forward to continuing to implement the things I learnt from it into my life. May my habits never falter again.
Have a good day, take care, make some good habits,