Atomic Habits: The Power of Tiny Changes (Part 1)

I am part of an 8-week book club where we are co-reading (and co-learning) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

BLOT: This book will change your life.

Did I oversell it? Well, one way of thinking about life suggests that I am not overselling it. Tiny habits are the basis of everything that you are doing, from personal and professional goals to your beliefs and personal identity. Time keeps ticking forward. You are presented with many choices. Some choices fall into patterns, namely habits. The results are all the results of the systems that emerge.

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.”

James Clear

I am going to write about the book club as I go. This is kind of like a tiny habit that I want to form. The system is the framework of the book club and the habit is to read a little every day and reflect on it in the form of a blog post here.

Critical Threshold

My favorite takeaway from the first three chapters is this idea of hitting some critical threshold. Our intuition is that you make linear progress towards goals and outcomes. But it doesn’t work that way. It is often frustrating until it is not.

First Three Chapters

  1. The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits: The book starts by emphasizing the compound growth of tiny improvements and the concept of marginal gains. James Clear illustrates how making 1% better choices and improvements in your daily habits can lead to significant, transformative changes over time. The idea is that just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the small, foundational components that can lead to larger systems of success.
  2. How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa): This chapter delves into the relationship between habits and identity. Clear proposes that true behavior change starts with a change in our self-image and our sense of who we are. Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve, focus on who you wish to become. This shift from outcome-based habits to identity-based habits can lead to more sustainable change because it integrates the habits into your sense of self and everyday life.
  3. How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps: In the third chapter, James Clear introduces the four-step model of habit formation: cue, craving, response, and reward. These four steps are the backbone of every habit, and understanding them can help in breaking down and rebuilding habits. Clear explains how cues trigger a craving, which motivates a response, leading to a reward, which consolidates the habit. He emphasizes the importance of making cues obvious, cravings attractive, responses easy, and rewards satisfying to form new good habits.

Professional Systems Versus Personal Systems

A good discussion in our book club formed around why we separate our professional systems from our personal ones. At work, we tend to fall into the systems the office has in place. Often, these systems help us get things done and have predictable results, but at home, we don’t have any systems.

Challenge

What system do you want to build for yourself? Let me know. Maybe we can hold each other accountable.

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