Atomic Habits

Have you ever gotten stuck trying to implement a really important habit? Why is it so hard to stay consistent? How often do you start a new activity with lots of energy, only to just stop after a few days?

Today’s post will be all about habit formation and how to incorporate consistency into your life. I’ll use the techniques I gained from ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and some of my own little life hacks. You’ll probably want to get a journal out and take down some notes, this will be very interesting!

I’ll discuss what, how and why to form habits, then I’ll introduce you to a concept called habit-stacking and the 2-minute rule.

What are habits? –> Outcome

A habit is essentially a behaviour that is performed automatically or on a regular basis. They are mental shortcuts learned from experience. Your personal feedback loop to living more efficiently.

“Success is the product of daily habits, not a once-in-a-lifetime transformation.”

Let’s identify the different between goal-oriented habits and system-oriented habits. Goals are essentially about the results you’d like to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. You need to be more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

It’s your commitment to the process that will determine your progress. I think most of the time we become obsessed with achieving a certain goal, without putting much thought into how we’re actually going to get there. So how can we form systems that will allow us to reach those goals?

“If you can get 1% better each day, you’ll end up 37x times better after 365 days.”

How do you form habits that last? –> Processes

It starts with trial and error. The feedback loop involves trying, failing, learning and then trying differently. The emphasis here is on the failing, because that’s often the most demotivating part. You need to realize that failure is part of growth. Progress requires you to unlearn and then relearn. It’s all part of the plan.

There are 2 phases each containing 2 subcategories to the habit loop; a problem phase and a solution phase. The problem phase consists of Cue and Craving, whilst the solution phase consists of Response and Reward.

To put it simply: the cue is about noticing a reward (trigger), craving is wanting that reward (desire), response is about working towards the reward (motivation) and reward ultimately satisfies us or teaches us. This in turn associates the reward with the cue.

Four laws of behaviour change:

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

If you combine that concept with the four laws of behaviour change, you’ll amplify the habit formation process. So why form habits?

Why should you form habits? –> Identity

When a habit becomes part of your identity, it feeds the loop that will continuously motivate you. Decide who you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small consistent wins.

Keep the benefits of the habit you’re about to form at the forefront of your mind. You want to remind yourself on a regular basis how this will serve you and why you’re pursuing it.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of failure, because pain is an effective teacher. The more you identify as a ‘perfectionist’ or someone who never fails, the less likely you are to overcome the fear of failure.

Habit stacking

This is a simple trick whereby you pair a new habit with an existing one. For example, if you want to start reading more every night before you go to bed, start immediately after you brush your teeth. This makes it easier for your mind to remember when to do it.

“We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying.”

You’re pairing those habits together so that you can stay consistent. Let’s dive into how to develop that consistency.

The two-minute rule

You need to make it as easy as possible to get started. This is one of the most important concepts to learn, because we are often very resistant to habits that seem like mountains to climb.

The two-minute rule is essentially sticking to the new habit for 2 minutes everyday. Want to start reading? Do it for 2 minutes. Want to start meditating? Do it for 2 minutes. Want to start exercising? Do it for 2 minutes.

Master the habit of showing up. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to do it. Once it starts becoming part of who you are, you can optimize and push yourself a little more. The key is to get comfortable with consistency.

“A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.”

I hope this has served you in some way. It’s not easy to form habits that last, but once you make it part of who you are, you’ll never be able to let go. Remember to focus on processes not just goals when forming habits. You will slip up here and there, but don’t give up. You will get there, just keep trying your best.

“The process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.”

If you have any thoughts or questions that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below.

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