In the summary of Atomic habit, you will learn sixteen methods to create a habit. All methods are easy to implement to form a habit.
Why do you need to build habit?
The purpose of building a good habit is to make yourself one percent better each day. Improving one percent is not noticeable but with time, it will produce a surprising result and if you improve one percent each day, then in one year. You will become thirty-seven percent better.
Habits decide how successful and unsuccessful you become. But the dark side of habit, it does not show result until you cross a certain threshold. Once you plant a seed of good habit and works until habit sprout. Then, an amazing thing begins to happen.
The Science of habit sprouting.
Creating a new habit requires four areas to take care of clue, craving, response, and reward. A clue is the first stage of habit sprouting that triggers your brain. Your conscious mind continuously analyzing the external environment to find clues. As clue indicate you about reward. Craving is the second state of habit that motivates you to follow a path, once you find a clue.
Third stage is response. In this stage, you perform a behavior. But if a particular behavior requires more mental and physical energy. Then you will not perform it.
The last state is reward. Reward is the endpoint of every habit. And the reward, decide whether are going to perform the same action again or not.
Each time you see a specific clue, you will perform a certain behavior to get a reward. And follow the path of habit to satisfy your desire. As you grow up, your sensory nervous system continuously analyzing clue to satisfy your desire. A feeling of pleasure or disappointment is a part of a feedback system, that tells your brain which behavior is worth remembering.
Building your belief unconsciously?
Your actions are driven by beliefs. However, you are not born with any belief. All the beliefs you learn, teach you through society and religion. If you find any negative belief that does not add value in your life. You can replace it, with a positive one. Do you think about how you build your belief? The person you are right now is the outcome of your belief. As belief drive actions and add a vote to your identity.
Example: If you visit the gym each day. even it is raining outside. Then, you have evidence that you are committed to fitness.
Habits are actions that influence your personality. As you repeat these actions again and again. You are adding evidence to your belief and strengthen your identity. Each time you perform an action you add a vote in your belief. No belief can build in a single instant but continuous action cast more votes and strengthen your belief.
New identity requires a new belief. If you wish to become a writer, start practice writing every day. Each day you perform a writing activity you add a vote in your new identity. Then, with time, your tiny actions pile up and build a new identity. Once you define the type of person you want to become. You can start taking tiny action to strengthen your beliefs.
Why you fail to build a new habit.
Do you think, why you fail to build a new habit? You whisper in your head that you will start a new habit from tomorrow. But you are unable to do it. why? It is not about the motivation you lack. But you are unclear about your actions. Once you define where and what time, you are going to perform a certain habit. Then, you will more likely to perform.
You can use Implementation intention technique to determine your certain habit with respect to time and place. Then, you are more likely to say no to the thing that put you off track. Sentence framing of implementation technique:
I will [behavior] at [time] in [place].
I will meditate at 7 am in my room.
I will walk at 8 am in the garden.
Habit stacking technique.
Habit staking is allow you to create mulitple habits in a row. It means you can tie your old behavior with the new one.
“After [old habit], I will [new habit]”
After workout I will go and take shower.
“After dinner, I will go for walk.”
You can also use habit stacking technique to add a new habit in your routine.
Wake up – Turn off alarm – Make my bed.
Wake up – Turn off alarm – Drink a glass of water – Makes my bed.
Focus on your Environment.
Habit depends on the room you are in and clues that are in front of you. Your environment is an invisible hand that helps you to perform certain actions more often. Likewise, the environment makes it easy for you, to not perform certain actions, as there is no clue for them.
Actions you perform each day is not based on your choice but by most obvious options. However, you can train your brain to link particular habit with a particular context. Because for someone couch is a place to watch television and eat ice-cream. But for others, it is the place to read books. Your behavior in the environment is determined by your relationship with the object.
Optimization of the environment is an approach to reduce friction. Make your clue obvious so that you can perform your activity with least resistance. Conflict arises when we try to build a habit in high friction environment.
You try to read ten pages a day when our smartphone is kept nearby you. However, you can reduce friction and utilize your time and energy if you create an environment where the persisting habit is easy for you.
Finding and fixing flaws in your habit.
Habits allow you to solve problems and reduce the burden from your conscious mind. The main purpose of habit is to reduce the stress level and to make task automate. But if your current habits are unable to reduce the stress level. Then, you can alter with a new one.
For some people cigarette is well-known to reduce stress level while others prefer to walk. Once you tie up your problem with a solution. You will always come back to your same solution to get relief.
It depends upon wiring. What you predict when you see a clue. Your prediction will define your craving. The same clue can spark good habit as well as bad. Through prediction, you can make hard habit even more attractive by remembering pay off in the future. All you need a slight shift in mindset.
Habits become attractive when you associate them with a positive experience. Likewise, it becomes unattractive when you associate with a negative experience. If you want to avoid a bad habit, make it unattractive.
Motion or Action, in which area you are putting your energy.
Habit makes the behavior automate. Each time you repeat the behavior, the more efficient you become. You decide goals, make plans, and then figure out habits to accomplish goals. But, you will get trap in making perfect plans. You stuck in what the author called ‘motion and taking action’.
Action is a behavior that produces desire result while motion is a process of accumulating data, making plans, and figuring out a strategy to produce the desired outcome. It is all good things to do but will not produce any outcome.
Example: If you make a plan to read ten books and then compose a list of books, you are going to read. But making a plan, does not produce any result. However, if you sit down and start reading a book. That’s called action and will produce the desired result.
The law of least effort.
Fuel requires to run an engine. Likewise, energy requires to do various activities of a day. Energy is precious and your brain tries to conserve it. Law of effort says when you need to choose between two options, you will prefer one that requires the least amount of energy. If the task requires more energy then there are fewer chances you are going to perform it.
Example: If you make a goal of doing fifty pushups, then the chance of doing 50 pushups is less. As it requires a huge form of energy. But doing one pushup a day requires a less amount of energy. And more chances of doing a behavior.
You prefer watching YouTube videos, checking emails, and using Facebook. You are more like to perform these activities as it requires a little amount of effort and can perform with almost no effort.
The Magic of two-minutes.
You can use the two-minute rule to create a habit in a challenging situation. Because doing activity for two minutes not only make your work as easy as possible but also reduce friction. In beginning performing a behavior should not be feeling like work, otherwise, you will give up. Performing habit for two minutes, help you to get into habit zone. As building a habit is the first step before improving it. Doing the same warm-up for two minutes, make your first action mindless.
“Run three miles became tie my running shoes.”
“Read before each night becomes read one page.”
“Do thirty minutes of yoga becomes take out my yoga mat.”
Tie your habit with reward.
You will repeat a behavior that makes you feel good. Feeling of pleasure, even minor once tell our brain ‘Hi this feel-good’ try one more times. Feelings of pleasure force your brain to remember the behavior, however, if the behavior is not satisfying you will not perform the activity in the future.
The best approach to sustain a good habit that pays off, in the long run, is to add a bit of pleasure. While building a good habit, you need reasons to sustain. Early on, building a good habit is all about sacrifices. At difficult times, reasons help you to stay on track. This is why the instant reward is essential as they keep you excited while delayed reward accumulates in background.
You tend to remember more if the reward is satisfying. That’s why the ending of any good behavior must be satisfying. The best approach to reinforce good behavior is to add an immediate reward, once the habit is performed.
Visual form of habit.
Habit tracker is well-known for measuring the progress of habits. It determines how far you have reached. Progress is the most effective form of motivation. Each day when you see your progress in visual form. You will feel motivate and do more hard work. But, visual measurement comes in many forms like moving marbles from one container to another or making a cross in the calendar on the date.
The activity provides clear evidence of progress. And, this visual measurement reinforces your behavior and give you a little bit of immediate pleasure. In bad days, habit tracker becomes the most powerful motivating tool. Days when you do not like to work. But Visual proof of the habit motivates you to align with the schedule and remind you how far you have to go.
However, perfection is not possible. There are days when you are not able to perform any behavior. But never miss twice, if you miss one day, it happens. Do not miss two days in a row. Because missing two days in a row will create another habit. Each day you perform an activity, even you like it or not. Each time you perform a behavior you add a vote in the person you want to become.
Exercise: Going to the gym, even if you do not want to work out. Add a vote in the person you want to become.
time investment in building habit.
Once you follow a habit of doing a certain activity on a certain time and discipline yourself. Then, following the schedule will become a habit and encoded in your brain. Once you form a habit you will more likely to perform a certain action when the clue appears. But, the twist is, if you did not use your habit for a while, your habit is still encoded in your brain. And it is impossible to remove the behavior.
Role of culture in developing habit.
You adapt habit from your culture, the way your colleague deal with a customer, the way your partner handle an argument, and if your partner has the habit to check door prior to sleep then surely you will also develop this habit. Now if you want to build habit but unable to sustain it. Find culture and join them where your desire habit performs by other people.
habit contract with accountability partner.
Habit contract is an agreement used for creating a habit. In this, write down your habit with time, you are going to perform your behavior. Now write down the consequence of missing the habit for one day. The consequence must be scary so that it forces you to do work. Once you aware yourself of the consequences of habit. You are less likely to procrastinate. Now sign in with your partner.
The Goldilocks rule.
For making continuous growth, you need to do tasks that can be coordinated with your current ability and skills. Because if the task is too difficult you will lose motivation and if it is too easy, you will feel tedious.
When you do activities according to your current abilities and skills. You will stop procrastinating, and able to give your full attention to the task at hand.
Above article is the extract version of the book “Atomic Habits” written by James Clear.