Atomic habits

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Atomic Habits


James Clear presents his ideas on habits, how to build new ones or stop old ones, and how to harness habits to transform your life with long-lasting changes in behavior. This is one of the most practical books IMO, it explores the concept of habits and provides practical strategies for building and maintaining effective habits. The main idea of the book is how tiny persistent steps over time will lead to powerful results.

Aim to get 1% better every day

If you get one percent better each day for a year you will end up to 37 times better by the time you are done, and something if you get one percent worse every day for a year you will decline down to zero. Over time small improvements end up compounding, the same thing is true for bad habits.

The British cyclist team case study

The British cycling team was performing poorly winning only 1 medal over 1 century. In 2003 the team hired a new coach, Dave. He had an interesting approach, which is to get one percent better each day, with very small improvements like re-designing seats, electrically heated shorts, or rubbing alcohol on tires for better grip and many other small improvements, all are very small improvements. Those marginal gains over time yielded huge success for the team with over 60 Olympic medals and 170 championships.

Focus on Systems not goals

We often set goals when we want to achieve something. If you want to lose weight you will set a goal to reach a specific weight, if you want to become a writer you will set a goal to publish a new book, and so on. But there are a few problems with the goals

  • We all have goals, but not all of us will achieve them. setting goals does not matter, what matters is the small daily steps you take that give you momentum over time to become closer to reaching the goal.
  • Achieving a goal is short living change, you set a goal to clean your desk, you do the work and clean the desk, and the goal is achieved, but if you forget about why the desk got messy in the first place it will easily become messy again, instead if you set your mind to make small changes daily to keep it clean, you will have long term progress.
  • You don’t rise to the level of your goals you fall to the level of your systems
    When you focus on goals, you work for that one big thing to get it done, and once it is over you will get back to your old habits, however when you work on your system, that redefines your habits intentionally you make long-term habits.
  • When you focus on the goal, you postpone your happiness until you reach that goal. However, on focusing on systems you are satisfied all the time as long as you stick to the system.

Design your environment for success

Visual receptors are the most powerful sensors human have, it consumes half the brain resources. Visuals also affect our habits and behaviors, you are less likely to practice guitar if it is hidden away in your closet, you are less likely to take your vitamins if you hide them in the kitchen cabinet, you are less likely to read that book you were meaning to read if they are pushed to the back of your bookshelf.

Cue, craving, response & reward

The habit loop consists of four components: cue, craving, response, and reward. The cue, or clue, is a trigger that signals the brain to initiate a particular behavior. Cravings are the motivational force behind habits, the desire or urge that compels us to act. The response is the actual behavior or action that we perform. Lastly, the reward is the outcome or satisfaction we experience as a result of the behavior. Understanding the interplay between these elements allows us to identify and modify habits effectively. By making the cues obvious, cravings positive, responses easy, and rewards satisfying, we can shape and optimize our habits for positive change and personal growth.

The 4 laws of behavior change

A framework for understanding and implementing effective habit formation. These laws include making habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying, and offering key principles to design and optimize habits for success.

  1. Make it obvious
    Example: Don’t hide the book you want to read
  2. Make it attractive
    Example: Read the book you like to read
  3. Make it easy
    Example: Start with a short book
  4. Make it satisfying
    Example: Reward yourself after finishing the book

Habit tracker

Keep track of the habits you want to build and the habits you want to get rid of. Visual tools can help you maintain these habits, as having visual proof gives you insight into how far you've come. For example, keep a calendar to mark the days you went to the gym. You will find yourself motivated to always mark the day and avoid breaking your streak.

Use the 2 minutes rule

Decisive moments set the options available to your future self

when you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.

Any habit can scale down to 2 minutes version, for example:

  • study for class → open notes
  • Run 3 miles → tie running shoes
  • Write a book → Write one paragraph

Goldilocks’ rule of motivation

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

Let's imagine you want to write 10 thousand words a day, sounds too difficult right?

You can start with the goal of writing 3 thousand words instead, if that sounds not too difficult but also not too easy then that the right goal to stay motivated.

Habits stacking

We are creatures of habits, we already have current habits that we do every day, we can use those existing ones into building new ones by the “habit stacking” approach. This is about leveraging the power of momentum to develop habits.

Tie the desired habit you want to create into an existing habit you already do. for example:


After **current habit, I will **new habit.


  • After brushing my teeth in the morning, I will read for 20 minutes.
  • While I wait for morning coffee, I will set the top 3 top goals of the day.

Temptation bundling

This strategy is about using the habits you want to motivate yourself to develop the habits you need.


After habit I need I will habit I want.


  • Only allow yourself to watch your favorite TV show while exercising on a stationary bike or treadmill
  • Indulge in a delicious and healthy smoothie or snack while studying or working on a challenging task.

Implementation intention

When we define the behavior, time, and location we are more likely to execute the habit we want to develop, On the opposite side when you keep details vague, you are less likely to perform the action.


After current habit or context, I will desired action at specific place on specific time


  • After I sit down at my desk, I will review my to-do list and prioritize my tasks.
  • After I turn off the television at night, I will read a book for 30 minutes.

Final thoughts

To build good habits or break bad ones use the four laws of behavior change, “make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying”

My takeaways

  • Design a success-driven environment, hide things that trigger bad habits, and make things that trigger good habits very obvious.
  • You can’t cultivate a habit that doesn’t exist, start small then build from there.
  • Stop procrastinating by using the 2 minutes rule.
  • If you break your habit streak one time that’s okay, but be careful of the second time, the second time in a row can break the whole habit.

Thanks for reading ❤️

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