Why is James Clear’s book Atomic Habits #1 on Amazon’s most purchased and most read lists for last week, even though it was published more than 3 years ago? Our guess is that people are wanting to make positive changes in their life – maybe everyone needed a Fresh Start February to become their best!
We believe that knowing why you’re doing something – the personal value, meaning, and importance of the behavior – is essential. Building or changing your habits starts with deciding the kind of person you want to be, defining the behaviors that that kind of person engages in, and then empowering your vision with a progression of small wins emerging from habits.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. – James Clear
Atomic Habits is an engaging read in which Clear offers science-backed strategies for successfully reprogramming your routines to become the person you want to be. He outlines how minimizing the need for motivation by manipulating your environment and introducing new habits slowly and incrementally allow small actions to gradually add up to big progress.
Clear suggests that the easiest way to change a habit is to change the environment. To do that, he outlines four simple Laws of Behavior Change addressing the Habit Loop we discussed in our last post.
To build a desired habit:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
These laws can be inverted to change an undesirable habit:
- Make it invisible
- Make it unattractive
- Make it difficult
- Make it unsatisfying
This is his brief summary of how to effectively apply the Four Laws of Behavior Change:
- Start with an incredibly small habit. Make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation. For example, if you want to build a new reading habit, begin by reading just one page every day.
- Increase your habit in very small ways. One percent improvements add up surprisingly fast. So do one percent declines.
- As you build up, break habits into chunks. It is important to keep each habit reasonable, so that you can maintain momentum and make the behavior as easy as possible to accomplish. Building up to 20 minutes of meditation? Split it into two segments of 10 minutes at first. Trying to do 50 pushups per day? Five sets of 10 might be much easier as you make your way there.
- When you slip, get back on track quickly. Top performers make mistakes, commit errors, and get off track just like everyone else. The difference is that they get back on track as quickly as possible. You just need to be consistent, not perfect. Focus on building the identity of someone who never misses a habit twice.
- Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain. Learning to be patient is perhaps the most critical skill of all. You can make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient.
“You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behavior. Nearly all of the friction in a task is at the beginning. After you start, progress occurs more naturally. In other words, it is often easier to finish a task than it was to start it in the first place.” – James Clear
Read Atomic Habits to be inspired by fascinating illustrations and many more insights to help you create and sustain positive habits. (Clear’s website also offers a wealth of great information.) Decide who you want to become, define the habits that person engages in, create a plan for change and “vote” for that identity with a progression of small actions!