Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

James Clear

December 21, 2020

This is the wisdom behind Seneca’s famous quote, “Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more.” If your wants outpace your likes, you’ll always be unsatisfied. You’re perpetually putting more weight on the problem than the solution.

December 18, 2020

The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop. It’s remarkable the business you can build if you don’t stop working. It’s remarkable the body you can build if you don’t stop training. It’s remarkable the knowledge you can build if you don’t stop learning. It’s remarkable the fortune you can build if you don’t stop saving. It’s remarkable the friendships you can build if you don’t stop caring. Small habits don’t add up. They compound. That’s the power of atomic habits. Tiny changes. Remarkable results. Appendix

December 18, 2020

Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine.

December 18, 2020

slowly tilting things in your favor. Eventually, if you stick with it, you hit a tipping point. Suddenly, it feels easier to stick with good habits. The weight of the system is working for you rather than against you.

December 18, 2020

Each of the people, teams, and companies we have covered has faced different circumstances, but ultimately progressed in the same way: through a commitment to tiny, sustainable, unrelenting improvements.

December 18, 2020

A lack of self-awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.

December 18, 2020

For most of my young life, being an athlete was a major part of my identity. After my baseball career ended, I struggled to find myself. When you spend your whole life defining yourself in one way and that disappears, who are you now?

December 18, 2020

Six months later, when summer rolls around, I conduct an Integrity Report.

December 18, 2020

I employ two primary modes of reflection and review. Each December, I perform an Annual Review,

December 18, 2020

Improvement is not just about learning habits, it’s also about fine-tuning them.

December 18, 2020

where they went wrong.* Improvement is not just about learning habits, it’s also about fine-tuning them.

December 17, 2020

Reflection and review enables the long-term improvement of all habits because it makes you aware of your mistakes and helps you consider possible paths for improvement.

December 17, 2020

improved rather than declined. Reflection and review enables the long-term improvement of all habits because it makes you aware of your mistakes and helps you consider possible paths for improvement.

December 17, 2020

Mastery is the process of narrowing your focus to a tiny element of success, repeating it until you have internalized the skill, and then using this new habit as the foundation to advance to the next frontier of your development.

December 17, 2020

The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.

December 17, 2020

In psychology, this is known as a variable reward.* Slot machines are the most common real-world example. A gambler hits the jackpot every now and then but not at any predictable interval. The pace of rewards varies. This variance leads to the greatest spike of dopamine, enhances memory recall, and accelerates habit formation.

December 17, 2020

The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stop delighting us. The outcome becomes expected.

December 17, 2020

Play a game that favors your strengths. If you can’t find a game that favors you, create one.

December 17, 2020

one of the best ways to ensure your habits remain satisfying over the long-run is to pick behaviors that align with your personality and skills. Work hard on the things that come easy.

December 14, 2020

Even if you’re not the most naturally gifted, you can often win by being the best in a very narrow category.

December 14, 2020

A good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that favors their strengths and avoids their weaknesses.

December 14, 2020

Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction.

December 14, 2020

Where do I get greater returns than the average person?

December 14, 2020

It is nearly impossible to experience a flow state and not find the task satisfying at least to some degree.

December 14, 2020

What feels like fun to me, but work to others? The

December 14, 2020

The goal is to try out many possibilities, research a broad range of ideas, and cast a wide net.

December 14, 2020

Choose the habit that best suits you, not the one that is most popular.

December 14, 2020

In short: genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity.

December 14, 2020

The people at the top of any competitive field are not only well trained, they are also well suited to the task. And this is why, if you want to be truly great, selecting the right place to focus is crucial.

December 14, 2020

An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us.

December 14, 2020

He wrote up a habit contract between himself, his wife, and his personal trainer. The first version read, “Bryan’s 1 objective for Q1 of 2017 is to start eating correctly again so he feels better, looks better, and is able to hit his long-term goal of 200 pounds at 10% body fat.”

December 13, 2020

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.

December 13, 2020

Going to the gym for five minutes may not improve your performance, but it reaffirms your identity.

December 13, 2020

you start with $100, then a 50 percent gain will take you to $150. But you only need a 33 percent loss to take you back to $100. In other words, avoiding a 33 percent loss is just as valuable as achieving a 50 percent gain. As Charlie Munger says, “The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.”

December 13, 2020

The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.

December 13, 2020

never miss twice. If I miss one day, I try to get back into it as quickly as possible. Missing one workout happens, but I’m not going to miss two in a row.

December 13, 2020

It can feel like a burden because it forces you into two habits: the habit you’re trying to build and the habit of tracking it.

December 13, 2020

In summary, habit tracking (1) creates a visual cue that can remind you to act, (2) is inherently motivating because you see the progress you are making and don’t want to lose it, and (3) feels satisfying whenever you record another successful instance of your habit.

December 13, 2020

This is the most crucial benefit of all. Tracking can become its own form of reward. It is satisfying to cross an item off your to-do list, to complete an entry in your workout log, or to mark an X on the calendar. It feels good to watch your results grow—the size of your investment portfolio, the length of your book manuscript—and if it feels good, then you’re more likely to endure.

December 13, 2020

This is the most crucial benefit of all. Tracking can become its own form of reward.

December 13, 2020

The most effective form of motivation is progress.

December 13, 2020

The mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it.

December 13, 2020

Thankfully, it’s possible to train yourself to delay gratification—but you need to work with the grain of human nature, not against it. The best way to do this is to add a little bit of immediate pleasure to the habits that pay off in the long-run and a little bit of immediate pain to ones that don’t.

December 12, 2020

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. It completes the habit loop.

December 12, 2020

Stories like these are evidence of the Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided. You learn what to do in the future based on what you were rewarded for doing (or punished for doing) in the past. Positive emotions cultivate habits. Negative emotions destroy them.

December 12, 2020

Once my bad habit became impossible, I discovered that I did actually have the motivation to work on more meaningful tasks. After I removed the mental candy from my environment, it became much easier to eat the healthy stuff. When working in your favor, automation

December 12, 2020

I often find myself gravitating toward social media during any downtime. If I feel bored for just a fraction of a second, I reach for my phone. It’s easy to write off these minor distractions as “just taking a break,” but over time they can accumulate into a serious issue. The constant tug of “just one more minute” can prevent me from doing anything of consequence. (I’m not the only one. The average person spends over two hours per day on social media. What could you do with an extra six hundred hours per year?)

December 12, 2020

Commitment devices increase the odds that you’ll do the right thing in the future by making bad habits difficult in the present. However, we

December 12, 2020

The Two-Minute Rule states, “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”

December 12, 2020

The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things.

December 12, 2020

Each day is made up of many moments, but it is really a few habitual choices that determine the path you take. These little choices stack up, each one setting the trajectory for how you spend the next chunk of time.

December 12, 2020

Reduce the friction associated with good behaviors. When friction is low, habits are easy.

December 12, 2020

finding ways to reduce the friction associated with our good habits and increase the friction associated with our bad ones.

December 12, 2020

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?

December 12, 2020

Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which occurs when the nonconscious mind takes over.

December 12, 2020

This is the first takeaway of the 3rd Law: you just need to get your reps in.

December 12, 2020

It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.”

December 12, 2020

Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires.

December 12, 2020

If we interpret these feelings positively, then we can respond with fluidity and grace. You can reframe “I am nervous” to “I am excited and I’m getting an adrenaline rush to help me concentrate.”

December 12, 2020

Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings, and we can use this insight to our advantage rather than to our detriment.

December 09, 2020

a behavior can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.

December 09, 2020

Once we fit in, we start looking for ways to stand out. This is one reason we care so much about

December 09, 2020

The human mind knows how to get along with others. It wants to get along with others. This is our natural mode. You can override it—you can choose to ignore the group or to stop caring what other people think—but it takes work. Running against the grain of your culture requires extra effort.

December 09, 2020

The shared identity begins to reinforce your personal identity. This is why remaining part of a group after achieving a goal is crucial to maintaining your habits. It’s friendship and community that embed a new identity and help behaviors last over the long run.

December 09, 2020

Our friends and family provide a sort of invisible peer pressure that pulls us in their direction.

December 09, 2020

We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful.

December 09, 2020

one of the deepest human desires is to belong. And this ancient preference exerts a powerful influence on our modern behavior.

December 09, 2020

Temptation bundling works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

December 09, 2020

We need to make our habits attractive because it is the expectation of a rewarding experience that motivates us to act in the first place.

December 09, 2020

Your brain has far more neural circuitry allocated for wanting rewards than for liking them. The

December 06, 2020

In the long-run, we become a product of the environment that we live in. To put it bluntly, I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment.

December 06, 2020

You can break a habit, but you’re unlikely to forget it. Once the mental grooves of habit have been carved into your brain, they are nearly impossible to remove entirely—even if they go unused for quite a while.

December 06, 2020

When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.

December 06, 2020

is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.

December 06, 2020

If you can manage to stick with this strategy, each context will become associated with a particular habit and mode of thought.

December 06, 2020

Create a separate space for work, study, exercise, entertainment, and cooking. The mantra I find useful is “One space, one use.”

December 05, 2020

If you want to drink more water, fill up a few water bottles each morning and place them in common locations around the house.

December 05, 2020

Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit.

December 05, 2020

Gratitude. After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.

December 05, 2020

We often say yes to little requests because we are not clear enough about what we need to be doing instead.

December 05, 2020

Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity.

December 05, 2020

the two most common cues are time and location. Implementation intentions leverage both of these cues.

December 04, 2020

The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behavior.

December 04, 2020

Generally speaking, good habits will have net positive outcomes.

December 04, 2020

The 1st law (Cue) Make it obvious. The 2nd law (Craving) Make it attractive. The 3rd law (Response) Make it easy. The 4th law (Reward) Make it satisfying. We can invert these laws to learn how to break a bad habit. How to Break a Bad Habit Inversion of the 1st law (Cue) Make it invisible. Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving) Make it unattractive. Inversion of the 3rd law (Response) Make it difficult. Inversion of the 4th law (Reward) Make it

December 03, 2020

The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us and (2) they teach us.

December 03, 2020

If you’re always being forced to make decisions about simple tasks—when should I work out, where do I go to write, when do I pay the bills—then you have less time for freedom.

December 03, 2020

take away the vibrancy and spontaneity of life?” Hardly. Such questions set up a false dichotomy. They make you think that you have to choose between building habits and attaining freedom. In reality, the two complement each other. Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. In fact, the people who don’t have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom. Without good financial habits, you will always be struggling for the next dollar. Without good health habits, you will always seem to be short on energy. Without good learning habits, you will always feel like you’re behind the curve. If

December 03, 2020

Habits are mental shortcuts learned from experience.

December 03, 2020

Now, whenever you feel stressed, you get the itch to run. As soon as you walk in the door from work, you grab the video game controller. A choice that once required effort is now automatic. A habit has been created.

December 02, 2020

it’s important to let your values, principles, and identity drive the loop rather than your results. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome.

December 02, 2020

decide who you want to be. This holds at any level—as an individual, as a team, as a community, as a nation. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become?

December 02, 2020

Good habits can make rational sense, but if they conflict with your identity, you will fail to put them into action.

December 02, 2020

There is internal pressure to maintain your self-image and behave in a way that is consistent with your beliefs. You find whatever way you can to avoid contradicting yourself.

December 02, 2020

The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.

December 02, 2020

Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe. When

December 02, 2020

The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become.

December 02, 2020

Changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: (1) we try to change the wrong thing and (2) we try to change our habits in the wrong way.

December 02, 2020

If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.

November 29, 2020

Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.

November 29, 2020

The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.

November 29, 2020

The backbone of this book is my four-step model of habits—cue, craving, response, and reward—and the four laws of behavior change that evolve out of these steps.

November 28, 2020

changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.