How often have you started a new habit but couldn’t continue it after a few days? It happens to most of us. We make some new year’s resolutions at the start of every year. Some of us want to be fit. Some of us want to wake up early in the morning. Some of us plan to study regularly. But most of these habits just fade away after a few days. Atomic Habits is a fantastic book which deals with this problem and in this article I’m going to share Atomic Habits summary with you guys.
That’s because we focus more on the goal than the habit itself. For example, we want to have six-pack abs, but we don’t focus on working out regularly. We don’t emphasise becoming the person we want to be.
I was struggling with making a new habit. That’s when my cousin suggested reading a book by James Clear. The book’s name is Atomic Habit, and this book has changed my point of view on making a habit. It discusses everything related to building habits and holding them for a long time.
I’ll try to talk about the summary of Atomic Habit in this article in my own way. But I’ll urge you to read the book itself if you want to reap the full benefits.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
James Clear mentioned that every habit is a life cycle of 4 things. These 4 things are cue, craving, response and reward. I have a habit of running and cycling. Whenever I get the chance to do it, I just go out for a quick run. I’ll demonstrate to you guys how these habits go through the loop of cue craving response and reward.
A cue is basically something that triggers your brain that you need to do something. In my case, I love distance running. Every now and then, I try to take part in my local marathon events. So for that, I’m added to multiple Facebook groups. All are related to running.
So whenever I log in to Facebook, the activities in these groups trigger me. Maybe someone has run 5 km in the morning, and he is sharing his Strava activity in the group. That picture is triggering me to go out and do a 5 km myself.
Then most of the runs happen mainly at the weekend because at the weekend everyone is free and doesn’t have any office work. They can run in the morning with an open mind. So, the weekend is another cue that triggers me that I want to go outside and run for a while.
Cue basically leads to craving. Whenever it’s the weekend, I crave a quick run. Whenever I see someone posting running activities, I crave that feeling. These things make me wanna do a marathon myself.
That’s because I’ve associated myself so strongly with these people that the activities of these people affect me. I’ve put my running shoes in my room. Those shoes also act as cues. Whenever I see the shoes, I crave the feeling of wearing them and going for a run.
Now that you know about cue and craving, it comes to response. Whenever I see my fellow run mates showing their running pictures or strava activities for social validation, it triggers that craving, and for that, I look at my running shoes and start wearing them. That is my response.
When I have my running shoes on, there’s no stopping me from going outside and running for even 10 minutes.
Because I need to finish that running craving, after running for even 10 minutes, I feel satisfied and return to my home feeling happy.
Now that I’ve completed my run, I feel good, and I can feel the adrenaline rush though out my body. When I take part in any events, I get to have finishing medals. Those act as rewards as well.
Running makes me feel good. It feels like I’ve done something noteworthy to keep my body fit. This feeling itself is a reward. This is the reward I will think about next time I go outside to run.
Now you know the life cycle of a habit. Now I’ll talk about 4 laws that James Clear talked about in this book. These 4 laws are very important for establishing a new habit. If you’re struggling with your habit, then this might come in handy to you.
4 Laws of Atomic Habits
Make it obvious
The first law is making your habit obvious. Suppose I want to build up the habit of running. So I need to make it obvious.
I have to keep my running shoes in my room where I can see them. Not in the closet where it will be hidden. I have to make it obvious by adding myself into a running group where running every day is a normal thing.
When I see other people running every day, I’ll get the motivation to run as well. So the first law is making the habit obvious.
Make it attractive
I have to make a habit of running attractive. Suppose I want to run, but my running shoes are ugly and, at the same time, not comfortable. Will I get the inside motivation to put them on?
Rather I will think, let’s skip running today because I don’t want to wear those shoes.
Instead, what I can do I can buy comfortable running shoes which look fashionable as well. That way, I’ll get excited to wear that, and the habit of running will be much easier to create. If I have good running clothes, then I’ll feel good about myself.
Make it easy
I have to make the task of running easy. If I want to run a marathon, I can’t tell myself that let’s go outside and run a marathon.
Instead, my target should be let’s get prepared and run for 2 minutes and come back. Running a marathon is tough but running for 2 minutes is easy.
When I’m making the task easy, I’m automatically enabling myself to pursue that. By design, our brain doesn’t want to do hard things. But when we do easy things over and over, it gets into our system, and then it becomes a habit.
If you go outside for a 2-minute run, it is almost certain that you’ll run longer. But it will be only possible when you’re repeating this easy thing over and over.
Make it satisfying
You have to make a habit of running satisfying. Previously I said our brains don’t like to do hard things. It prefers easy things. When you’re running, you can make the run more enjoyable by doing it with your friends.
Often running alone can get boring, but when you’re running with some friends, you will talk with them in between your running splits.
You will explore new places with them. That’s how you can make the run more enjoyable. It will be satisfying.
That’s basically the 4 laws of atomic habits. Make your habit obvious so that you don’t miss doing it. Make your habit attractive so that you feel excited to do it. Make your habit easy so that your brain doesn’t stop you from doing it because, as I said earlier, our brains hate doing hard stuff. And last but not least, make your habit satisfying so that you can feel rewarded.
There are some other noticeable topics discussed in this book that I didn’t want to miss out on.
James Clear has said that you can basically tie two habits. For example, our day starts by waking up, so we can connect drinking a glass of water with it. That way, we’re forming the habit of drinking a glass of water in the morning as it’s tied with waking up.
When you’re stacking habits like this, it’s easier to get things done.
We often want to do something but don’t specify any time and location. It’s a big mistake. For instance, I want to run. But I don’t know when to run. I don’t know where to run. That’s why not having any clear indication of the task of running remains undone.
I need to specify the time and location. I need to say to myself that I will run at 7 am in the nearby field for 10 minutes.
That way, I’m fixing the location. I’m fixing the time. I’m making the task easy by keeping it for only 10 minutes.
This way, the chance of running gets much better because I have everything fixed before. I don’t need to worry much about the details.
When we’re making a habit of running, we need to track it. If we track our habits, we can see progress. This progress makes us feel good and rewarded. This tracking habit is very necessary. I already track everything in my day-to-day life. But getting this validation from a best-selling writer gives me another boost. If you track your habit, then you will realize how many times you have missed the habit in a single month, and you can work on those in the future.
It helps if you have an accountable partner. If you have someone to whom you can report your progress, it’s more likely that you will do that task and won’t miss it. Inside your head, you know that if you miss it, then you have to mention this to your partner, and it will make you feel like a loser. Also, your partner can encourage you from time to time.
That’s basically my summary of the Atomic Habits book. This is a great book, and I’ve only talked about some things that, too, on a basic level. There are countless real-life stories in the book that will help you form a habit. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can give it a read. I swear it’s worth reading.
If you like this book review, you can check Rich Dad Poor Dad Review also.