Read: April 2023

Inspiration: Saw on Amazon’s bestseller list and had heard of it as one of the best books on habit formation


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Atomic Habits”, published in 2018 by author, speaker, and popular newsletter writer James Clear, is a self-help book that explores how small, consistent changes can lead to significant improvements in one’s life. Clear emphasizes that habits are the building blocks of long-term success, and he provides practical strategies for readers to develop good habits and break bad ones. He argues that the key to sustainable change is to focus on identity-based habits that align with one’s values and beliefs. The book offers a step-by-step process for readers to design and implement effective habits, such as habit stacking, environment design, and tracking progress. Overall, “Atomic Habits” is an accessible and practical guide that empowers readers to take control of their lives and make positive changes that last.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Big improvements are not about massive action—instead about accumulation of small gains (1% better every day=37x better by year end), outcomes are a lagging measure of habits, be aware results from habit often show themselves once cross threshold but result of prior behaviors accumulating (Plateau of Latent Potential), system>goal (systems are sustained process while goals are moments), “atomic habits”=a regular practice/routine that is not only small/easy to do but also source of power (component of system of compound growth), often habits don’t stick b/c focused on outcome-based habits (goal oriented and momentary), stickier as focus on identity-based habits (change what you think/who you are), goal is not to read a book but rather become a reader, each instance of habit behavior reinforces identity (whether good or bad), you become your habits—not about “life hacks”, 4 steps of habit building: cue, craving, response, reward, cue triggers brain to get closer to rewards, crave triggers motivation (interpretation of cue that motivates action), response is actual habit performed once craving threshold met, reward is end goal of every habit, Four Laws of Behavior Change: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying, habits soon become automatic such that do not even notice—awareness key to changing so tracking/calling out behavior and outcomes can be helpful to be conscious of habits (keep “scorecard”), implementation intention means be specific with goals/when and where will do X, “habit stacking” is where tack on desired behavior to something you already do (e.g. after my coffee i will meditate for 1 min), specificity key to habit stacking—make it obvious and actionable, context/environment triggers habits—new environment, new habits, famous Vietnam War study of 30% of soldiers using Heroin but then when return home <10% addicted/use—contrary to addictive beliefs of the drug but really due to return home/non-war environment didn’t trigger the behavior as being in war did, dopamine drives cravings and kicks in as anticipate reward (even more so then when act and actually get reward), anticipation of reward drives dopamine which drives behavior, habits adopted from the many, the close, the powerful (3 main groups of influence), rather be wrong with a crowd than right by ourselves, be wary of preparation becoming a form of procrastination—often best prep is action/reps, people gravitate towards Law of Least Effort so should make habits easy to enact, and frequency is key to habit building, most successful businesses/products are those that reduce friction of things we want to do (less clicks, quicker, etc), habits are the gateway to desired behaviors (e.g. it is the habit of getting in workout clothes that gets to to exercise, first step in habit is key), set environment to induce good habits or make bad habits difficult (e.g., prep healthy food for week in fridge, place phones out of reach to work, set workout attire on chair night prior), human nature is to crave immediate reward while world today is increasingly delayed in nature where good choices pay off with time, satisfying behaviors get repeated so should make habits end with satisfaction/reward, consistency and habit tracking helps—but also okay if miss 1 workout or 1 unhealthy meal but key is to not miss 2, don’t let spiral, get back to what you track/want, be weary though of Goodhart’s Law: when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure (e.g., so fixated on 10k steps forget really about being healthy, don’t fixate on a number), picking the right habits is key—recognize biological/genetic differences matter, find what comes easy/flow, play to your strengths but not forget power of hard work alongside, genes tell you what to work hard on (clarifier) , greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom (e.g. best athletes can get past boredom of daily workouts, embrace reps as progress), as habits become automatic must self review/audit to ensure continual deliberate improvement, make time to reflect, be flexible in your identity—think in terms of type of person you are not specific acts/job to adapt as progress through life, happiness is when have no urge to act/feel differently, pleasure/satisfaction sustain a behavior, feeling/desire motivates you to act

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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