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Positive Change On Your Mind? But, intimidated by the huge amount of effort it would take to make the change? Worried that the efforts might not be worth the results? This book is a must-read for you.
In the book Atomic Habits, the author, James Clear, drives home the point that tiny changes in behavior, repeated over time, bring great results.
We bring to you key takeaways from the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
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Atomic Habits Summary & Key Takeaways
Atomic Habits has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, and there’s good reason for that! The book has some great writing style and golden nuggets in it. Here we bring to you a quick summary and a few key takeaways from this book. Read on.
1. Small Unnoticeable Changes Have a Powerful Impact Over Time
A 30-min jog today will not bring you in shape tomorrow.
A 12-inch cheese-loaded pizza will not make you fat tomorrow.
But the same activities repeated day in and day out will bring noticeable results over a couple of months.
Don’t let the Lack of visible progress prevent you from committing to the right trajectory to achieve your goals
2. Habits Come From Learned Experience
Edward Thorndike, a psychologist, conducted an experiment. He placed some cats in a dark box. The cats desperately tried to escape, scratching and pawing randomly until one cat found the lever that opened the door.
After repeating this experiment 20 times, the cats took just 6 seconds to find the lever and open the door.
Having repeated the same thing multiple times, it became natural for the cats to find the lever, and open the door easily.
Habits formation can be broken down into four parts
- Cue: trigger to act (cat in a dark box)
- Craving: for a change (cat wants to get out of the dark box)
- Response: the action taken to make the change happen (looking for a lever to open the door)
- Reward: the end goal (freedom)
Behaviors that give satisfying rewards tend to be repeated often, and then the habit forms automatically.
3. Be Intentional and Introduce Cues In Your Environment
Dr. Anne Thorndike, a doctor in Boston, conducted an experiment. In the hospital cafeteria, right next to the cash registers, all the refrigerators had sodas. Dr. Thorndike’s team replaced the sodas with water bottles.
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In addition, the team also placed baskets of water bottles all around the cafeteria, to make them easily noticeable to everyone.
Over the next three months, the sales of water went up by 25%, and the sales of soda fell by 11%.
Altering the environment a bit, and placing visible cues helped people make a healthier choice.
Want to learn how to play guitar?
Place unmissable cues around you: Keep the guitar in the center of the room.
Implementation Intention: Generic plans don’t help in habit formation. Be specific about your plan of action – Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at 6 pm, I will play the guitar for 15 minutes.
4. Use Dopamine to Your Advantage
Dopamine is a great motivator. Even the anticipation of a great result or pleasure sets the dopamine flowing. We can use this knowledge to our advantage and form good habits.
Temptation Bundling: Take any activity that you enjoy. To build a new habit, stack or ‘bundle’ that new desired behavior with the activity you naturally enjoy.
Ronan Byrne, a student in Ireland, enjoyed watching Netflix. He wanted to exercise and work out often, but would give in to his temptation and end up watching Netflix instead. To develop a habit of working out, he hacked his exercise bike in a way that his Netflix would only work if the exercise bike ran at a certain speed.
He worked out, and watched Netflix at the same time, thus bundling a lackluster activity and a pleasurable one together.
5. Leverage Friction
Reduce Friction To build a good habit:
Want to never miss sending a handwritten greeting card? Keep a pack of greeting cards at home, sorted by occasion – for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Whenever an occasion comes you don’t have to go to a shop to buy a new greeting card.
Increase friction To eliminate a bad habit:
Want to cut down on your TV time? Every time you switch off the TV, take out the batteries from the TV remote and keep it further away. Whenever you feel the urge to switch on the TV, you will need to find the batteries and put them in the remote control before you can turn on the TV.
6. Start By Committing Just 2 Minutes Per Day
Don’t commit to huge goals at once. Huge goals can be intimidating. Instead, focus on smaller bites. Want to develop a habit of reading books? Committing to reading one book a week may seem daunting, so commit to reading just 2 pages a day, before going to bed, let’s say.
Once you read two pages, most likely you will continue and read more. If you don’t end up reading more than two, it’s fine, repeat the same thing the next day and read another two pages. Stay committed to your regime. Slowly, but surely, you will build a habit of reading.
7. Introduce Instant Satisfying Rewards To Build Good Habits
Stephen Luby, a public-health researcher, managed to reduce diarrhea in children by 52% in Karachi, Pakistan. He joined hands with Proctor and Gamble and introduced a high-quality soap in the neighborhood for free. The premium feel and good smell of soap encouraged more and more people to use the soap. They enjoyed using the soap, and used it more often, thus improving the overall health among the locals.
Many of us are in living in a delayed-return environment. We work for a couple of weeks or a month, then get a paycheck as a reward at the end of the period.
Our forefathers, on the other hand, were focused more on the short-term returns – their focus was on things like how to get the next meal for survival, how to get fire for heat at night, etc.
If we focus on the short-term rewards, smoking a cigarette satisfies the craving for nicotine, but over the years it will destroy the lungs. The long-term consequence far outweighs the short-term reward.
To satisfy the natural instinct to crave instant gratification, we can attach a quick reward to a desirable activity.
For example, a couple wanted to cut on eating outside. So they created a goal that by saving money by cooking and eating healthier meals at home, whatever money they save, they will use it for a vacation in Europe. They created a savings account for the trip.
Every weekend when they would have otherwise gone for dinner outside, they stayed home and cooked, they transferred $50 to their “Trip” savings account. This way they were able to feel the pleasure of seeing their trip account growing immediately, and that helped them avoid going out for dinners.
8. Implement A Habit Monitoring And Tracking System
An effective way to track your progress is to set up a mechanism or framework for monitoring your activities. Involve friends and family in this and tell them what you are trying to achieve, and what are the goals and milestones along the way. Ask them to keep checking in with you and keep you accountable throughout.
Introduce a rewards system, so that you get something you like for progressing in the right direction. For example, if you have sales call targets, reward yourself with 30 minutes of social media browsing after every 10 sales calls.
Put in place a penalty system, so that you give up something you like in case you deviate from the trajectory. For example, if you fail to make the desired number of sales calls, you pay your friend or spouse $100.
Apart from the potential gain or monetary loss, there is a bigger motivator that works in this case. As humans, we do not want to lose face when there are people watching us. By creating a framework where others are involved, the urge is stronger to stay on track and build the habits.
Did we pique your interest in this NY Times Bestseller? Grab your copy of Atomic Habits today. An audible version of Atomic Habits is also available on Amazon.
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