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Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Goals are end results and systems are processes that lead to those results. Focus on systems instead of goals for long-term achievements.

Three layers of behavior change, starting from a surface level and ending in the deep end:

  1. Outcomes or results
  2. Systems or processes
  3. Identity

The most successful efforts come from focusing on who we want to become rather than what goals we want to reach. For example, the goal is not to run a marathon but to become a runner, not to learn to play an instrument but to become a musician.

Four steps to behavior change:

  1. cue
  2. craving
  3. response
  4. reward

From that stem the four “laws” of behavior change. Make it:

  1. obvious
  2. attractive
  3. easy
  4. satisfying

To break a bad habit, make it the opposite: hidden, unattractive, complicated, and unsatisfying.

Below are several tactics for implementing the “laws” of behavior change.

  • Explicitly describe how you’ll do something. For example: When and where are you going to the gym or voting place tomorrow. This is called implementation intention.
  • Make rules. For example: If I want to buy something more expensive than $100, I’ll wait 24 hours before deciding.
  • Link habits to events. For example: I’ll stretch while I wait for the water to boil.
  • Change your environment. It can provide more cues or make a response easier to perform.
  • Surround yourself with people who exhibit a habit you want to have. You’ll make the habit stick better if they’re socially acceptable in your social circle.
  • Start with small steps. To make a habit stick, the response time shouldn’t last more than two minutes (make it easy).
  • Track your habits and make them visual.

The author references The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, originally published in 2012.

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