Thoughts and Quotes from “Atomic Habits” by James Clear

Atomic HabitsChange can take years before it happens all at once.

I stopped by the local bookstore to pick up my next read. The entrance display showcased this recently released book. The mental warfare against myself that week drew my attention to the title. I picked it up, read the cover-slip, and put it back with a smirk – “I don’t need this self-help crap.”

From there, I headed to the business section where true intellectual entrepreneurs seek knowledge and sharpen their edge. To my surprise, the book was also showcased here. My suppressed superstitions were awakened as my mind whispered, “It must be a sign.” I purchased the book and made my way to the airport.

I enjoyed the book much more than anticipated. The logical flow of common sense actions come together to form a practical guide to assist in the development of more positive routines. I genuinely enjoyed the book.

Here are a few quotes:

  • Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.
  • You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.
  • You get what you repeat.
  • Time magnifies the margin between success and failure.
  • Change can take years – before it happens all at once.
  • Here is a question I like to use: ‘Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be? Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity’?
  • Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity.
  • Motivation is often overrated; environment often matters more.
  • 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. The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least.
  • Perseverance , grit, and will-power are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.
  • I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment.
  • Self-control is a short-term strategy, not long-term one. You may be able to resist temptation once or twice, but it’s unlikely you can muster the willpower to override your desires every time. Instead of summoning a new dose of willpower whenever you want to do the right thing, your energy would be better spent optimizing your environment. This is the secret to self-control. Make the cues of your good habits obvious and the cues of your bad habits invisible.
  • If you want to increase the odds that a behavior will occur, then you need to make it attractive.
  • The ability to experience pleasure remained, but without dopamine, desire died. And without desire, action stopped.
  • Dopamine is released not only when you ​experience ​ pleasure, but also when you ​anticipate ​ it.
  • Whenever you predict that an opportunity will be rewarding, your levels of dopamine spike in anticipation. And whenever dopamine rises, so does your motivation to act. It is the anticipation of the reward–not the fulfillment of it–that gets us to take action.
  • We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: 1. The Close. 2. The many. 3. The powerful.
  • Proximity has a powerful effect on our behavior.
  • One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
  • The reward of being accepted is often greater than the reward of winning in an argument, looking smart, or finding truth.
  • When changing your habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive. When changing your habits means fitting in with the tribe, change is very attractive.
  • Once we fit in, we start looking for ways to stand out.
  • Look at nearly any product that is habit-forming and you’ll see that it does not create a new motivation, but rather latches onto the underlying motives of human nature.
  • Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires.
  • Every action is preceded by a prediction.
  • A craving is a sense that something is missing.
  • Desire is the difference between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.
  • What you really want is to ​feel ​ different.
  • Reframing your habits to highlight their ​benefits ​ rather than their drawbacks is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive.
  • The point is not to do one thing. The point is to master the habit of showing up. The truth is, a habit must be established before it can be improved.
  • You have to standardize before you can optimize.
  • Sometimes success is less about making good habits easy and more about making bad habits hard.
  • When the effort required to act in your desires becomes effectively zero, you can find yourself slipping into whatever impulse arises at the moment.
  • Incentives can start a habit. Identity sustains a habit.
  • 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.
  • “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” – Charles Goodhart
  • Pain is an effective teacher.
  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.
  • People are born with different abilities.
  • Our environment determines the suitability of our genes and the utility of our natural talents. When our environment changes, so do the qualities that determine success.
  • Competence is highly dependent on context.
  • In short: genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity.
  • People get so caught up in the fact that they ​have ​ limits that they rarely exert the effort required to get close to them.
  • Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck.
  • Work hard on things that come easy.
  • The greatest threat to success is not failure, but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stop delighting us. The outcome becomes expected. And as our habits become ordinary, we start derailing our progress to seek novelty.
  • “Men desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well wish for a change as much as those who are doing badly.” – Machiavelli
  • It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop.
  • Happiness is simply the absence of desire.
  • “Happiness is just the space between one desire being fulfilled and a new desire forming.” – Caed Budris
  • “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “The trick to doing anything is first cultivating a desire for it.” – Naval Ravikant
  • “Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more.” – Seneca

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