Before we plunge into the topic let us understand the exact meaning of ‘Habits’. Habits are small changes and actions that we incorporate into our daily life accidentally. Atomic Habits ideally means that the good habits do not give you immediate results, but as time passes the effects of your habits grows in leap and bounds.
Many books have been written on the broad topic of ‘Habits’ and the one currently trending in the market is the ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.
James Clear is a writer/motivational speaker/ who has dissected and revealed the practical techniques one can follow to break bad habits and to form good habits.
The book Atomic Habits has already sold over 2 million copies worldwide as it has become a bible for those trying to find ways for self improvement and transformations. This book has been featured for 45 weeks and is translated into over 20 languages.
Atomic Habits digs deep into the ways one can adhere to build and maintain new habits. The best part of James Clear writing is that there is no beating around the bush and he follows a direct no nonsense approach form of writing. He gives you simple and workable steps that anyone can follow.
What does the book Atomic Habits talk about?
The book Atomic Habits by James Clear basically gives you a simple understanding of transformation steps that anyone can follow with ease. Clear gives an updated view of the feedback loop of habit formation.
The Feedback Loop of Habit Formation
There are mainly 3 main points in an traditional feedback loop of habit formation and they are
- Cue- Cue refers to intense desire to which you respond positively. For eg: When you are on a strict diet and you are invited to a party
- Response- Response is when the person gives into the craving or falls for the cue- For eg: when you accept the invitation to the party.
- Reward- Reward is the result of your response to the cue. For eg: the reward in the party context is when you binge on the delicious food served at the party.
James Clear gives you an updated view of the feedback loop that consists of 4 points which are
According to him one can follow a reverse psychology process to change their habits and transform themselves. Here’s how:
1. It should be noticeable
The first step is to make your deep rooted desire noticeable and obvious. For eg: if you are planning to stay away from carbs and sugar to lose weight, then remove all sugar and starch items from your pantry or kitchen. This way you are left with no choice, but to indulge in food that is carb and sugar free.
2. Strengthen your craving by rewarding yourself
There is a rush of dopamine that hits us when we strongly crave for something. The degree of our action completely depends on our craving. In this step you should connect your craving to a reward. Create a reward like choosing that perfect little dress to wear to a party or an outing. Purchase it and hang it in your dresser, naturally you will work towards losing weight with commitment so that you can fit into the dress as a reward.
3. Ease out
Do not complicate your new habit so that you find it difficult to achieve the reward. Start slow and gradually move up instead of taking a huge plunge and landing into a pit. For instance do not go for a crash diet to lose weight, instead gradually reduce your intake of food and make delicious carb free/sugar free food so that you do not crave for them. Follow this simple rule
‘Slow and Steady wins the race’.
4. Make yourself Happy and Content
The most awaited part- the reward. As mentioned earlier choose a great dress or create a reward fund for yourself so that you transfer money into the fund each time you complete a new habit. Not only will this satisfy your heart, it will also help you start a new habit. Clear also gives a tip about making your own habit scorecard so that you can check off the box each time you finish a task or a habit.
The next part of the book talks about how one can get rid of bad habits and the steps for achieving the same.
Get Rid of your Bad Habits
In this book, James clear simplifies the entire process of eliminating the bad habits. The steps to eliminate the bad habit are exactly opposite to the good habits formation steps. This is what Clear has to say about getting rid of your bad habits:
First identify the reason or the cue that instigates the feedback loop and work towards making it invisible. Putting the cue out of sight will nullify the need for self-control as you won’t be tempted for something that is not even present.
2. Make the wrong thing look dirty and unappealing
Concentrate on the negative results of non performance of the habit and this will motivate you even more to break the bad habit.
3. Make it Hard for yourself
As opposed to making a good habit easy to follow and adhere to, make it hard for yourself to indulge into your bad habits. For eg: if you have a bad habit of spending money, then lock your credit cards and give the key to your best friend.
4. Punish yourself
Create an unsatisfactory situation to break your bad habit. If you are rewarding yourself for completing a good habit, here try to punish yourself for following a bad habit. And punish yourself so hard that you are forced to give up your bad habits.
James Clear throws light on few key concepts in the book that is well connected to the complete process of habit formation. Here he introduces us to the following ideas such as:
- When performing a particular habit the mind and body sets a process for itself. It starts off with a cue that initiates a craving which inturn instigates a response and finally leads to a reward. Creating an entire grid of positive and noticeable cues is the best way to initiate good habits. This is collectively called as the Habit Loop.
- Let the completion of one habit be the motivation and reason to start the next habit and let the process continue. This is referred to as a Habit Stacking where you are forming a definite pile of good habits.
- The Atomic Habits book stresses on the idea that one should not move fast when it comes to starting and following a new habit. Take it slow by improving it 1% every day and before you realize it the result of your habit will grow exponentially.
- In this book, James Clear does not support the idea of motivation at all, instead he says that it is always better to tailor situations or environment to build your good habits. The favourable situations will automatically provide opportunities to perform the action related to your habit development.
- Club your temptation with your need to do action. For eg: do your workout while listening to music. This way you will enjoy building your new workout habit and will look forward to continuing with it. This is referred to as ‘Temptation Bundling’ in James Clear’s book.
- Frame an agreement of punishment for yourself the moment you fall out and go back to your old ways. As per the agreement you will punish yourself severely and will hold yourself accountable if you break from your good habit actions or performance. This in the book is termed as Habit Contract.
The Atomic Habits book by James Clear is an amazing book that gives you a simplified and a different way to transform yourself and to move towards creating a better you that you desire for. James Clear gives you a scientific outlook of self-improvement and his writing is simply straightforward and crisp.