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

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Year2018
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The only pragmatic book on habits.


Quotes (13)

Smoking and Anxiety

Showing pictures of blackened lungs to smokers leads to higher levels of anxiety, which drives many people to reach for a cigarette.

Goals Restrict Your Happiness

Goals restrict your happiness.

The Score Takes Care of Itself

In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, “The score takes care of itself.”

Pointing-And-Calling

Pointing-and-Calling raises your level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level by verbalizing your actions.

Achieving a Goal Only Changes Your Life for the Moment

Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment.

Every Habit is Context Dependent

Every habit is context dependent.

Goodhart’s Law

This pitfall is evident in many areas of life. We focus on working long hours instead of getting meaningful work done. We care more about getting ten thousand steps than we do about being healthy. We teach for standardized tests instead of emphasizing learning, curiosity, and critical thinking. In short, we optimize for what we measure. When we choose the wrong measurement, we get the wrong behavior. This is sometimes referred to as Goodhart’s Law. Named after the economist Charles Goodhart, the principle states, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” Measurement is only useful when it guides you and adds context to a larger picture, not when it consumes you. Each number is simply one piece of feedback in the overall system. In our data-driven world, we tend to overvalue numbers and undervalue anything ephemeral, soft, and difficult to quantify. We mistakenly think the factors we can measure are the only factors that exist. But just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing. And just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it’s not important at all.

The Goldilocks Rule

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

Locking Future Behavior

A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future. It is a way to lock in future behavior, bind you to good habits, and restrict you from bad ones. When Victor Hugo shut his clothes away so he could focus on writing, he was creating a commitment device.

See also:

The Four Laws of Behavior Change

The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.

Established Before Improved

The truth is, a habit must be established before it can be improved.

How Long Does It Take to Build a New habit?

One of the most common questions I hear is, “How long does it take to build a new habit?” But what people really should be asking is, “How many does it take to form a new habit?” That is, how many repetitions are required to make a habit automatic?

There is nothing magical about time passing with regard to habit formation. It doesn’t matter if it’s been twenty-one days or thirty days or three hundred days. What matters is the rate at which you perform the behavior. You could do something twice in thirty days, or two hundred times. It’s the frequency that makes the difference. Your current habits have been internalized over the course of hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions. New habits require the same level of frequency. You need to string together enough successful attempts until the behavior is firmly embedded in your mind and you cross the Habit Line.

Forget about goals, Focus on Systems Instead

Forget about goals, focus on systems instead