Atomic Habits by James Clear is one of my favorite self-help books. That’s a bold statement, but within the first 5 minutes of reading I made an audible agreement to one of the points being made. This book is well written, jam packed with great information, and the lessons are actionable. The last point is very important when it comes to self-help books because most people who read these types of books are seeking ways to improve an area of their life. The advice needs to be simple enough to implement and motivating enough to change your actions.
That is why Atomic Habits is a must-read for those on a journey of personal growth. It dives deep into how to build good habits, break bad habits, and provides simple, effective tools to implement the lessons learned.
While reading this book I learned that I have a natural ability to create habits and stay committed. I’m a creature of habit and have been that way my whole life! The habits we form are important but what I loved was understating the why behind those habits. Why do our brains work the way they do and how does that affect our daily actions? Below are my top 5 “aha moments” that made this book one of my favorites.
THE PLATEAU OF LATENT POTENTIAL
In order to start to see success you need to be committed long enough to reach the Plateau of Latent Potential. There is no such thing as an overnight success. While it may appear that an A-list actress came on the scene and was an instant success, what you don’t see is the high school drama student, years of acting lessons, commercials shot, an extra in countless movies, only to have their big break 20 years later. Small actions lead to big results but you have to give yourself time to blossom.
A SYSTEM OF ATOMIC HABITS
One of those audible agreements I talked about was when I read the quote “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”. I still take a moment of contemplation every time I read it. The process you create for implementing good habits, continuing to evolve those habits, and remaining committed, is the key to reaching your goals. In my Watered Daily posts I talk a lot about efficient living, organizational tools, and slow growth strategies. I love these topics because they focus on the process. This book breaks down how to build a strong system one informative page at a time.
THE HABIT LOOP
Habits are formed from a need to solve a problem and the process of creating a habit can be broken down into 4 simple steps: Cue, Craving, Response, Reward. Without completing all 4 of these steps, a habit will not stick. In an effort to make sticky habits you must make the Cue obvious, the Craving attractive, the Response easy and the Reward satisfying.
For example, if I want to go to the gym I make my gym bag (the cue) obvious by putting my keys in my bag. This forces me to see my gym bag and take it when I leave the house. This triggers a craving to go to the gym and it’s made attractive because I love swimming. The response is that I go for a swim. It is made easy because my gym bag is already in the car and I live 8 minutes from the gym. The reward is that I am filled with endorphins which is very satisfying! When you understand each of the steps of habit formation you can quickly identify where you can modify your actions to create wanted change.
Habit Stacking is not new, in fact it originally comes from BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits program and then re-shared in Atomic Habits. The idea is simple yet powerful. Habit stacking involves tying new habits to older, established habits. For example, if you want to listen to more books on Audible, you could habit stack by saying when I go for a run [current habit] I will listen to my book [new habit]. The key to habit stacking is that the habit frequency needs to be similar for both habits. You don’t want to tie something you do weekly to something you want to do daily. The compounded effect will help solidify the new habit and increase your chances of success.
Once you have created habits and made efforts to make them stickier, how do you stay motivated? This is where the Goldilocks rule comes in. “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.”. This is important to note because all too often we start a new habit at a level that is too hard and then quickly toss the habit before we even realize our true abilities.
I’ve always wanted to get into yoga but I hated it. Every time I tried a class I would leave with even more disdain for the practice. It wasn’t until I started stretching daily that I soon began craving the full body stretch that yoga provides. I’m still new to yoga and practice 20-30 minute sessions, but it’s a start, and the perfect level for my ability. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
I can’t stress enough that this is just the tip of the iceberg with this book. I hope that by sharing my “aha moments” it encourages you to check out Atomic Habits by James Clear. Small actions, focused on good habits, will lead to big change. This ability to create change in our own lives is what Watered Daily is all about. Always remember to take time for yourself, to “water” yourself daily, and see what grows!