Atomic Habits

2021, Aug 09

There are many self help books. And there are many self help books on good habits. This one stands out, though. It is simple (I don't mean easy) and has clear practical ideas on how to implement the philosophy it preaches. The book has a lot of interesting ideas but I am going to write down the simple set of rules to described in the book to form better habits. If you read the book, you will see that the chapters are arranged to deal with these rules in depth.

1. Make it obvious

When you want to form a new habit, make it easy to follow, make your environment friendly to encourage the habit and break the habit down into smaller and easy-to-conquer parts. Do not expect too much from yourself. That only causes frustration. For example, I want to read at night time rather than mindlessly scrolling on my phone. So I keep a book near my bed (environment). I do not expect myself to read a lot. A couple of pages is enough.

2. Make it attractive

Tiny rewards to make me go back and repeat a habit is important. Until the activity does not need my cognitive energy, I need to put efforts into doing it. The effort needs a reward. The reward forms a feedback loop and motivates me to do the activity again.

3. Make it easy

Think about it. When you have a checklist of tasks, you get done the easiest ones first. So, make your new habit easy. Get it over with for the day and move on with your life. To make the habit easy, reduce friction that associated with it. Pre-plan your workout, do not buy junk food while shopping. If you do not have junk food in your fridge, chances are you will pick up the fruit when you want to munch on something.

4. Make it satisfying

Good habits are good for you in the long term. But that is not good enough. You need to make it immediately satisfying. What is immediately rewarded is motivating. For long term good habits, such as exercising everyday, find short term rewards. Like, gamification - maintaining a streak for everyday exercise. Use a habit tracker - such as a Fitbit - that gives you awards for being consistant. Get an accountability partner and share the everyday success.

Here are some quotes that I would like to remember from the book.

The first three laws of behavior change—make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy—increase the odds that a behavior will be performed this time. The fourth law of behavior change—make it satisfying—increases the odds that a behavior will be repeated next time.