Atomic Habits - How Making Tiny Changes Lead To Remarkable Results

Every one of us has at least one habit we hanker to get rid of. It doesn't have to be only that something which the world disagrees with. Let's discuss how you can do away with it?

The lockdown has allowed us to take some time away from our busy work schedule and focus on ourselves. For some, it could be getting back to doing something they missed, for some others it could be getting better at what they are already doing, and for yet others, it could be learning something new. In my case, it has given me time to disconnect myself from the world, the time to read books.

During the lockdown, I have enjoyed reading various books. Certainly, the genre of books I prefer now has changed, but happiness doesn't change when you do something that you love to do. 

A woman reading a book
Photo by: pexels

Out of the books that I have read during the lockdown, one book that I loved was the Atomic Habits - Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. It is an insightful book that emphasizes changing the tiny habits to succeed, instead of talking about 'thinking big'.

Right from explaining the title of the book and then taking the readers through various reasons, examples, and methods to inculcate good habits and break bad ones, the author has written it in a way that makes the readers feel connected to, adding on to the many reasons one should read it.   

The motive of the book

James Clear has provided us not with an academic research paper, but with an operating manual to create and change our habits, that will thus change our lives. 

Photo by: James Clear

As James Clear says,

" Human behavior is always changing: situation to situation, moment to moment, second to second. But this book is about what doesn’t change. It’s about the fundamentals of human behavior. The lasting principles you can rely on year after year. "

He has covered domains like biology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy in this book, to explain the science of habits. Throughout the book, in various instances, the book gives a wide set of ideas that were used by great people and organizations to succeed, apart from his personal experiences and research, which makes the book realistic and relatable to the readers. 

3 key takeaways from the book

From unfolding the power of tiny habits to explaining how our genes, talent, and motivation affect our habits, this book has twenty chapters majorly revolving around what James Clear calls, the Four Laws of Behavior Change. 

Below are the 3 key takeaways that I took from this book:

1. The power of Atomic Habits

James Clear has broken many myths in this book, out of which the most important one is that massive success requires massive action. He has brought to light how we overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the importance of making small improvements in any task we take up and has also justified how tiny improvements impact in the long run, in a very understandable manner. 

Using simple math, he says, if you get better each day by 1%, then by the end of one year you will end up being 37 times better. But, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, then you will decline down nearly to zero.

"Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement." - James Clear

2. Focus on systems instead of goals

Before giving us any idea about the framework for creating a habit change, James Clear has made certain the fact that we are sold to the idea of habit change by explaining its importance to the readers.

First, he gives a clear difference between goals and systems by defining them as, "Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results." 

Then he explains the importance of focusing on systems instead of goals with a simple statement, "Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress."

Photo by: unsplash

I understood it the best when James Clear said,

"The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard."

The tiniest of details that James Clear has decided to focus on, especially in reasoning things out, is one of the main reasons that made me love this book. In this case, he even goes on to state the problems one faces when he/she focuses only on goals.

The problems described are: Winners and losers have the same goals, Achieving a goal is only a momentary change, Goals restrict your happiness, and Goals are at odds with long-term progress. The detailed explanation provided for each one of these problems is enough to convince any person to shift their basis of working. 

3. The difference between 'being in motion' and 'taking action'

This part of the book caught my attention immediately when I read "We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action." because this is something that I have been doing for a long time. And, the best part is that it didn't just talk about one of my major mistakes, but it also revealed what exactly was wrong with it, as well as gave me a solution.

Planning and working
Photo by: unsplash

James Clear says there is a difference between being in motion and taking action, though it sounds similar. He explains it as, When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result.

Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.  The author calls this a form of procrastination and a way to escape criticism because being in motion makes you feel like you're getting things done, but in actual all that you're doing is preparing to get things done. The solution to this is to step off perfectionism and work towards making progress.

You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing. If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t need to map out every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it. 

- James Clear

Apart from these takeaways I have spoken about, there are many useful facts and methods which James Clear has covered in this book, like The Two Minute Rule to stop procrastinating. He has emphasized many things such as choosing the right habits based on your genes, the role of family and friends in shaping your habits, and the importance of tracking habits after building them. 

I can go on writing about this book for two reasons:

One, it is because I loved it. It will remain my all-time favorite self-help book and my go-to guidebook for instilling a change in my habits to get better results. This book can get even a hater of self-help books to consider trying the ideas put forward in it.

Two, because there is so much that the book has in store that it is hard to choose just a few topics to talk about. The takeaways that I have thrown light on are just a few of the amazing parts of the book and are my favorite ones. What's yours?

Just a girl with a curious mind and an excited heart, living with an enthusiasm to explore herself and the world.

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