It is not about some massive changes that we need to make in our lives to lead better lives; neither is it about doing things in a very different manner all of a sudden! Atomic Habits is exactly what the name suggests—to introduce ‘atomic’ sized habits into our complex compound routines, persist over time and watch the magic happen!
James Clear, the author of the book ‘Atomic Habits—Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results’, is like a whiff of fresh air in the self-help, habit-changing or motivational genre of books and is truly ‘clear’ about the purpose that he has set out to achieve. The book has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and is a blockbuster in its own right.
One of the first things that James talks about is the ‘Habit Loop of Cue, Craving, Response and Reward’. According to him, all habits are formed through this cycle and we can build good habits or break bad habits by focusing on each step of this process. To build good habits, he says to make it obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying and the contrary needs to be done to break out of an unproductive habit loop—out of sight does lead to out of mind in this case. To describe with an example: IfI have a food addiction, I need to ensure that what I should be eating is more visible to me, packaged in an attractive manner and convinces the brain that I am satiated when I eat it. If I view eating healthy food as a punishment, I will never be able to enjoy it and consequently won't be satisfied; thereby missing the crucial last parameter of the habit loop. At the same time, I need to make the junk food invisible or removed from my eyesight to skip the first ‘cue’ itself and the rest will gradually follow.
Another key concept mentioned in the book is ‘Habit Stacking’. Once we decide on one good habit, attach a sequence of good habits to it one after the other and lo! We have a miracle in front of us. For example, once I finish yoga in the morning at 6 am, I will have a glass of vegetable juice. After I drink my juice, I will spend 15 minutes from 6.15 am writing in my journal, and so on and so forth.
The author urges us to dig deep and not only ask ourselves what we want to do differently but also what we want to become. When we relook at our identity and the kind of person we want to be, the habit changes have a concrete purpose. Along with this aspect, it also helps to surround ourselves with people who have similar identities or are looking for something similar. Having a community around to rally with you, with common interests is inspiring and also a huge catalyst to making it happen. Having a supportive system around the habit change that we are working towards, in terms of people or processes just makes the task easier and seemingly within grasp!
And like James clearly states in his book - ‘Every action you take is a vote for the person that you wish to become’.
Who do you want to become?