Habits are a powerful way to shape behavior towards living a better life. Atomic Habits are about preparing yourself and the environment for a better life. The goal is to make good habits easy and bad habits hard. Good habits should be obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. Habits are processes, but they flow from and also build identities. "I am a writer" results from "I write every day". But "I write every day" also follows from "I am a writer".
When building habits, they should be small and actionable, triggered by specific, events. Such events can be other, established habits. Habits can be stacked in this way. Habits follow a cue, craving, behavior, reward loop. Identifying and focusing on each of these steps helps to make and break habits.
Friction from doing habits should be removed beforehand, by preparing the environment. The environment matters more than the motivation. One aspect of this design is to make good habits as small as possible – atomic. Write only 1 word per day. But every day. Consistency before amount. Amount comes later, on it's own. Building a streak, casting votes for a new identity, thinking, hey I am a writer now, is more important in the long run.
Habits can help you achieve, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone. – James Clear
Gets hit in the face by a baseball bat - struggles hard - recovers when getting into college - finds out that habits are useful.
A habit is a routine or behavior, that is performed regularly and in many cases automatically
Start small, make small compounding steps over time - that is the way to fulfill your potential.
What are the four laws of behavior change?
Claims book is about human behavior - copying the system of Charles Duhigg - cue, habit, reward loop - and extends it to be: cue, craving, response, and reward
Chapter 1 - The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits
Claims again that small things accumulate to large results - enforces this story with the racing team of Great Britain, which improved every little bit they knew about cycling only 1% and then won all the records imaginable. The goal should, therefore, be to get 1% better every day -> compounding effects - insane growth => reminds me of the idea of Charlie Munger that one should get to bed a little smarter every day than when one woke up.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement
Making these small changes is hard - because the results slip by unnoticed - it is easy to not notice or rationalize doing the small wrong thing - and it is hard seeing the benefit of the bigger picture when doing the small - but arguably hard thing - that does the 1% improvement. Putting forth an example of an airplane missing its destination because of a small error in the direction they are flying - over time this error compounds - just like habits. Think about trajectory - instead of results -> the slope is important
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.
The biggest problem is that people expect to see change - they want to be rewarded for their work - but the problem with rewards when doing behavior changes is that it comes delayed - example of bamboo - building intensive roots before growing like mad - example of an ice cube melting only after a certain threshold is reached - delayed gratification => reminds me of Jordan Peterson - discovering the future - sacrificing the quality of life right now - to gain something of more value later on - is a better performance predictor than almost anything else because of that, meaning the better one is at delaying gratification the better one is at being a successful human being in our society => reminds me of Daniel Kahneman - remembering vs. experiencing self - the remembering self will like the fact that I formed this habit - the experiencing self dislikes it.
Plateau of Latent Potential: the timeframe where you have to do habits without getting any visible benefit from them. Example of tectonic plates rubbing against each other: creating pressure that builds until it erupts at one point - we call that earthquakes - or overnight success.
Mastery requires patience.
Doing habits, in the beginning, is disappointing because one expects the results to be distributed linearly and therefore overestimates the early results - however one underestimates the long term results IF one does not quit.
=> The nature of this change - namely that it is closer to an exponential trend than to something else for me means that - in the things, I value - I have to start doing them now - because later on there won't be enough time to do them - because I have to worry about other things and then the start of the compounding interests will not be enough money - or resources to keep myself going - blocking me from achieving anything.
Analogy - work is not wasted - even though it feels like it is - it is simply being stored, to erupt at a later time. "All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision" How to follow through a habit and work through the valley of disappointment and the plateau of latent potential? Evaluate and think of systems instead of goals. It is the process of making a goal actionable - this making it actionable is the system. The actions one has to do and improve upon to reach the goal. So instead of setting goals - think about the behavior and its effects. Think about the system.
Goals themselves do not do anything. It is the system that does the work. Also - goals seem to be important because of survivorship bias. We do not have to change results - but behavior or systems that lead to those results - cleaning up a room once achieves the goal - it removes the symptom - which is caused by a different disease - but leaves the disease untreated - the bad habits of making the room untidy will make the symptom come back. Goals are momentary - and therefore bad because they do not address the system. Fixing the system - cures the disease and therefore - results - i.e. no symptoms - will happen "automatically"
Goals set up a false dichotomy of success vs. failure - thereby limiting the happy outcomes - because there are millions of ways you can achieve goals - and you can shift your goals on the fly. Satisfaction comes from a running system.
Goals are not aligned with long term progress. When a goal is reached - motivation for doing something towards that goal vanishes - hence effort slumps. "Ultimately it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress." => reminds me of Finite vs. Infinite Games. The idea that there is something that I can win and therefore be good afterward - is the idea of a goal. However an infinite game is the game of life - it is not about winning but about getting better - forever. The way is the goal.
Atomic habits are small units - easy to do - but yet super powerful. They build up to bigger routines that then map over time to big results. They are the small compounding building blogs of a successful life. "You do not rise to the level of your goals - you fall to the level of your systems"
Chapter 2 - How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)
It deals with the question of why it is hard to make good and equally hard to break bad habits. There are 3 levels of behavior change: outcomes, processes, identity. outcomes are goals processes are habits identity are beliefs
problem is the direction we want to change -> we want to change outcomes first and then move from there inwards towards identity
instead, we should start with defining who we want to be and then work from there.
Behaviour that is incongruent with the self will not last.
Change the perception of who you want to be - then form habits around that.
=> reminds me once again of a few things: Begin with the end in mind - 7 habits of highly successful people => the guiding idea from Ray Dalio's Life Principles - finding out where you want to go - what you want, who you want to be - but then figuring out what is true - the place we want to go - that is not a goal in the sense that James Clear is using the word - it is about making up the person you want to be and become. Then thinking about how to get there - knowing as much as possible about reality and only then going there. This is heavily centered on systems. It is figuring out how to do stuff.
Back to Atomic habits -> get pride involved. Once you think of yourself as this or that person - it is something that you pride about you - and therefore you start protecting these core parts of your belief.
=> Don't forget to be open-minded though - in case you find out your habits are worse than you thought they would be - you have to abandon or tweak them - and therefore change what you think about yourself again or you will get worse outcomes. Again - Ray Dalio's Principles states something very similar to this thought. When not being open enough one could also miss better solutions. It is about figuring out what is true - and this can change over time.
Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity.
The goal is not to read a book - the goal is to become a reader.
I.e. the goal is not to do x - but to be a person that naturally desires to do X. The goal is not to program - it is to become a programmer.
The goal of this rephrasing is to change the system. Most goals worth pursuing can be rephrased that way. They are goals that can not be achieved - since they are an ongoing process - one can stop being a reader - etc. they focus heavily on the process. Refining and grinding it into the type of person - into the identity one is. "The biggest barrier to positive change at any level - individual team society - is identity conflict"
Assigning a negative type of personality to oneself is something that keeps you from certain good behaviors. => this ACTS as a self-fulfilling prophecy - by thinking oneself is bad at math - eternally - they will stay bad at math eternally. It is simply not part of their identity. It reminds me of the Growth and Fixed Mindset described by Carol Dweck. Being able to see what one can become and then set out to pursue this vision - is what they both describe.
Question: Where do world views come from - how are identities formed?
WaitButWhy asks the same question in his article on how to pick a career. There is a section describing how common sense and childhood experiences imposter as "our" opinions. We think that's how we should be. Without asking why about those opinions and wondering where they come from. He is then using the "why-game" to get to the bottom of these imposters of identity. Those are not necessarily things that you want - but things others want for or from you. Things that have subtly shaped your identity over time.
Atomic habits answer: habits shape identity. Habits are the embodiment of identity.
Identity is repeated beingness: meaning things you do over and over and over again. In other words habits are what you are. You are what you do. You are a sum of your habits.
Habits over time slowly change identity - they produce a proof for the thing that we are. Forming habits is, therefore, a gradual and ongoing process of individuation and finding (better - building) oneself.
This line sums it up nicely:
The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
- Decide the type of person you want to be.
- Prove it to yourself with small wins.
In other words "fake it till you make it".
Step One is defining the direction - the "goal" - that guides the process. It is a mission statement. Step Two is about executing REPEATEDLY, habitually the steps necessary to get there - it is about putting a system in place. => or in the words of Ray Dalio: Do what you have to, to achieve what you want in light of what is true.
Ask yourself - what would a person do when they have already achieved this "goal".
What would a musician do? Keep practicing. What would a writer do? Keep writing. What would a CEO do? Keep building an awesome company.
Habits can help you achieve, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone.
You become your habits.
This reminds me of a Cracked Article
What you value vs. what you think you value. It comes down to what you do every day - most of your time - that is the things you start valuing. The things that you spend your time with - that is who you are and what you become. Those are the things you believe in.
Chapter 3 - How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps
When doing something that has a positive reward - your brain starts learning to automate the behavior leading up to the reward. That is what habits boil down to. "A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic." Jason Hreha: "Habits are reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment." Habits decrease the amount of brain activity needed - therefore conserving energy. Habits, therefore, offload activity from the prefrontal cortex of the brain - the working memory - the actively thinking part - into the default mode network - hence automating it. Issue of not enough freedom because being tied up in habits - counterargument - they enable freedom - because they lead to a better outlook on life overall and improve situations. They make space for getting the more important decisions done. => in a way that is the argument of Essentialism rephrased. When focusing only on a few things - then we get freedom within those few things. By not focusing on them we are lost in between all the different possibilities - since our capabilities fall short off doing ALL the things. Hence we have to choose - we have to simplify - we have to focus. We have to have habits - that automate away certain choices - and within those habits - we also still have the choice of adding or removing habits - the choice of our own identity.
Cue -> Craving -> Response -> Reward Cue is a trigger in the environment leading to a buildup of dopamine - which motivates you and activates your motor patterns to do something - this leads to a response - which is then followed by the release of opioids - and we feel a reward. These loops are motivated by primary or secondary wants and needs - the brain learns to play those tapes - as Duhigg calls them - in response to certain situations and then adapting and reinforcing those tapes based on what is or has happened. That is basically how addictions are formed as well. Cues are LINKED to the rest of the loop - by exposure. That is why doing a habit reinforces it. The neural pathways get strengthened - and the connection between cue and craving gets stronger and craving is the thing motivating to do actions - so the cue gets bound to the behavior.
Rewards deliver relief from craving. This is a trick employed by the brain to get animals - and by extension us - to do things that are positive for our survival. Brains are reward detectors - they tie the things that happened before a reward to the occurrence of the reward - reinforcing those connections - so the next time you have the same environmental cues - it will increase dopamine - and lead to a craving. The stronger the reward is and the more often it gets repeated - the stronger the bond between the cue - the behavior and the reward will be in the future. The purpose of habits is to solve problems efficiently and easily. Essentially - life is just that as well - the solving of problems as efficiently and easily as possible.
These 4 phases of a habit run in a loop. Constantly - all the time while we are awake. We are constantly surveying the environment for new cues and executing certain behaviors. No matter what time of the day - we do one of these 4 steps. The steps can be broken down into 2 different phases - the problem phase (cue, craving) and the solution phase. (behavior, reward) The 4 steps of the habit loop can be transformed into the 4 laws of behavior change. Make it obvious. Make it attractive. Make it easy. Make it satisfying. These four help ingraining new habits and behaviors into our already existing ones, because they hijack the way our brain works - by making it easier for it to connect those patterns of behavior.
The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
Chapter 4 - The Man Who Didn't Look Right
With enough experience, people can notice subtle cues of the environment to come up with essentially awesome conclusions within a split second. He gives the example of a paramedic who saves the life of her father in law because he "doesn't look right" and he actually has a heart failure later on but is already in the hospital. Humans develop strong intuitive modes of thinking - because our brains are hardwired to interpret facts continually - that is what forms the habit loop. => the same idea can be found both - and in a lot more detail within Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and within Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Both argue that we have a subconscious system that is very good at detecting patterns without us even knowing what those patterns are and then presenting conclusions to those. The problem with it is though that this system is sometimes wrong and comes to wrong conclusions.
The same way - that people detect patterns unconsciously they detect cues for habits unconsciously and therefore act upon those cues with craving and behavior without thinking as well. That is why habits are powerful. Because they are essentially unaware and therefore slip by unnoticed. Even though they make up a majority of our lives. => this also connects to the idea of getting more freedom into our lives - by realizing what habits we have and then being able to alter them - we get the freedom of choice that we otherwise would not because we would not even notice that we had a choice in the first place because the behavior just unrolled itself automatically.
To build new habits - we first need to discover old ones. Carl Jung Quote: "Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate."
Introducing the Habits Score Card Example of Japanese Railway - pointing out to things and saying them out loud, reduces the accidents and problems by a lot - it makes habits more OBVIOUS. It raises awareness of them. So - to make our habits more obvious - create a list for all of them. Go through a day - and write down every single thing you are doing on a card. Then add +, - or = signs behind each habit written down to indicate if it is positive, negative or neutral. Then notice yourself - as somebody else when doing habits - Oh, here he is doing that thing again. Seeing yourself from this distanced point of view helps to put things into the conscious mind. Also when noticing something bad - verbalize it. Say it out loud, make it obvious.
Chapter 5 - The Best Way To Start a New Habit
self-improvement Implementation intentions help to do the things you want to do. Simply stating them - where, when, how exactly - helps in doing this thing. "When situation X arises, I will perform response Y" Be specific. Ultraspecific. "Many people think they lack motivation when what they lack is clarity"
Habit Stacking Behaviors can be cues for other behaviors. This leads to habit stacking. Shopping one thing and then another because the new purchase makes the other thing that I have to seem to not fit - is something known as the Diderot effect. And it is common in humans. Habit stacking is another form of implementation intention - instead of saying situation X arises, I do behavior Y - instead, you say - after behavior X, I will do behavior Y This momentum - will lead to a positive Diderot effect - one behavior leading to the next - in an upward spiral of good habits. Habits should be stacked with habits that have the same frequency and at points in time where they are possible and still easy to do. The habits scorecard can help by identifying possible triggers for habit stacks. Find things that happen EVERY day without fail. E.g. the sun rises, you get a text message, you go to the toilet, you eat something, etc. etc. Whenever those happen you can use them as a cue. BUT be ultra-specific. Do something after those triggers. Directly after. Specify what exactly you do. How you do it etc.
"The more tightly bound your new habit is to a specific cue, the better the odds are that you will notice when the time comes to act."
Chapter 6 - Motivation Is Overrated; Environment Often Matters More
This chapter is about shaping the environment to remind you of your habits. It is about making behavior easier as well as giving cues for the behavior. "Your habits change depending on the room you are in and the cues in front of you. The environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior." "Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior."
=> reminds me of Stanford Behavioral Biology - Lecture 9 on Ethology. There are certain things about the environment that we live in that cue our brains into certain behaviors. And not just our brains but the brain of every single animal alive right now works like that. And sometimes the cues are so strong that animals do things that we would consider stupid - because well - the cue for the behavior is there so that is what is supposed to happen - and so it happens. The lecture is full with way way way more examples of this.
We often do the thing that is most obvious to us. The thing that the environment suggests - supermarkets use this to sell things. Starbucks is everywhere - so we go there. This ties to brand awareness as well. Vision is the strongest sense in humans - so visual cues are the most effective for us. Be the architect instead of the victim of the environment. Build cues into it that trigger positive habits. Make the cues as big as possible - to make them stand out - make them OBVIOUS. And make them multiple.
Contexts can act as cues. Locations and situations can, therefore, trigger behaviors and habits. Link habits - to contexts - to the whole environment. When changing habits - change contexts - a new environment is not preloaded with cues for bad habits and therefore the brain can attach the new cues to the new habit more easily. Mantra => "One space one use" Space does not equate to the room though - it means different space. A chair for reading, desk for working, table for eating, etc. etc.
Chapter 7 - The Secret to Self-Control
Addiction is a pattern of habits. It is formed by the environment. People in the Vietnam war were heroin addicts - when returning home they stopped overnight - because their environment changed.
Same idea for rehab patients, only that they relapse when they get back into the old environment. It is about removing cues from your life that trigger behavior. Create a disciplined environment. Cue induced cravings are faster than the conscious brain. Cues that are associated with addictions active the reward loop of the brain and release dopamine - even BEFORE the person realizes that they have seen the cue. This is one of the reasons why people with alcohol addictions should not drink alcohol "free" beverages. Since the cue of alcohol - even so slightly - will trigger their cravings by building up dopamine in the reward circuit - motivating them to reproduce the behavior - of drinking. Also because of their speed - willpower has not much to do with it - because the craving happens earlier - before control is even there. One can not ignore environmental cues. Only fight against the desire they cause. And since will power diminishes over time as a cognitive resource - and needs time to be replenished - this is not a long term strategy. Inversion of Rule 1 - Make the cues for bad habits invisible. Avoid "temptation" instead of resisting it.
The 2nd Law: Make it Attractive
Chapter 8 - How to Make a Habit Irresistible
Example: Ethologist Tinbergen uncovering behavioral cues - example of birds pecking at the red dot of the mother's beak - when having a fake mother the most important thing is the red dot at the beak - having a fake beak with 3 red dots makes the small birds go crazy. => once again Stanfords Behavioral Biology - Lecture 9 on Ethology deals with that - it even covers this very specific example. It is called an environmental stimulus. And the one that is crazier than the real thing is a supernormal stimulus. Some of these behaviors and cues are inborn - others are learned. The ones Atomic Habits describes are overwhelmingly learned ones.
Supernormal stimuli - are what drive us humans insane as well. Internet porn, junk food, social media, video games. Food scientists optimize the food for those supernormal stimuli, changing texture, taste, etc. etc. the more interesting the food is to your brain - the more you are going to eat from it because your brain is reacting to the stimulus provided by your sensory nervous system and the brain is programmed to maximize its chance of survival - so it will value these highly interesting artificial things way more than "normal" food. They call those things hyper-palatable foods. WOW.
=> reminds me of edubily's critique on JUST that. https://edubily.de/stoffwechsel/unverarbeitete-verarbeitete-nahrungsmittel/ Overprocessed foods are bad for you - and here is the mechanism to explain why - it leads to automatic overeating because the brain is overreacting to this supernormal stimulus. And also there is experimental evidence that shows EXACTLY that. https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30248-7
This means - the craving response for forming habits has to be as strong as possible to make them stick - find the triggers and cues - and then not just make them obvious - make them highly exciting - make them into supernormal stimuli. The commercial world already does that. It puts out highly engineered versions of stimuli that we are naturally attracted to because of our evolutionary history. "They exaggerate features that are naturally attractive to us and our instincts go wild as a result driving us into excessive shopping habits, social media habits, porn habits, and eating habits.
=> this reminds me of the AI pushing their reward button - a problem in AI called reward hacking - it turns out we already do that ourselves and it destroys us step by step - because the reward is figured out by the wrong metrics - not by the thing that we want. That blows my mind right now. Also - I am thinking that what Atomic habits mean by the word habit is more often than not confused with the word behavior. Because it is not the habit that is triggered - it is the behavior. The habit - is the whole package - the automated behavior in response to a cue. The cue, therefore, is already part of the habit... In other words - when we perceive a cue - the habit has already started. Which becomes clear when looking back at the HABIT loop. Therefore cues are not causing our habits - but cues causing behaviors - over and over again - which strengthens this cognitive loop - which results in this cue, behavior, reward mechanism being automated - at which point we call it a habit.
To explore how habits work - we examine the dopamine spike - the dopamine-driven feedback loop - that is at the core of all addictions and habits. Desire is caused by dopamine - it among other things motivates us to do a thing. In rats that are genetically engineered to not express dopamine you see a complete loss of all motivation - they give up on living. Oddly enough - doing something pleasurable to the rats - still makes the content the same amount. But dopamine that would normally drive them to that behavior is missing so they do not do it. When reversing this - and giving a few shots of dopamine each time a behavior happens - researchers built crazy strong habits in rats. The release of dopamine before a behavior makes that behavior into a habit. The more dopamine is released the stronger the connection. Certain cues in the environment - release dopamine within the brain which makes one feel uneasy and act - and boom - when the desired output is achieved - we feel good and the connection between whatever behavior we did and the cue that released the dopamine - increases wildly. "Dopamine is not only released while experiencing pleasure but while anticipating it." The dopamine spike happens BEFORE the behavior and not after it - this is what is the feeling of craving - it is the increasing of dopamine within certain key brain regions.
=> this whole idea is wonderfully presented in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdiMFQk_aW8
The reward system for anticipating a reward and receiving it - strangely is the same. There is a difference between wanting and liking - and wanting is the stronger emotion.
=> from an evolutionary standpoint this makes complete sense - when we do not yet have something - but we want it - we need to be motivated stronger to get the thing that is causing the wanting. We have to do an action - behave in a certain way - to survive. However - when having something - the satisfaction can be less - because for now - we are fine. Therefore our lives are this constant - up and down and up and down in dopamine levels - moving us to do certain things - and then moving back to a baseline to be content with.
Formation of a Habit
the first time behavior that gives a positive outcome happens - our brain secretes dopamine - we feel good. At the same time, the brain rewires itself a little bit - to secret dopamine earlier next time we have the same situation. the next time the same situation happens - we perceive a cue - and our brain secretes dopamine. we want to do the behavior. In a habit, fulfilling this action does not release dopamine anymore. when the reward is not provided in time - dopamine levels drop. making one feel bad and rewiring the brain a little bit in the opposite direction again - making it less likely that the cue will trigger as much of a dopamine release the next time. The brain has more areas devoted to wanting then to liking. Making it even more important that we make behaviors attractive - which means we have to get the craving for them. Which means we have to supercharge the cues somehow. The strategy is called temptation bundling. Here is how it works: Bundle something that you crave with some behavior you want to do. So that one becomes associated with the other. Only eat something - AFTER doing something else that you have to do. Only drink something - AFTER doing something else that you have to do. Only masturbate - or have sex AFTER doing something else that you have to do. This way - the brain will release dopamine in a craving response - for certain stimuli - associated with good habits - because after those habits it expects rewards for the behavior. Psychology theory knows as Premack's principle. "More probable behaviors will reinforce less probable behaviors."
=> this to me sounds more like habit stacking than anything else - what he means is that we need to put things closely together so that the brain associates the reward of the one thing with the work from the other - creating a dopamine spike craving before doing the work - that only goes away after the work has been done and we get the reward - the question I ask myself about this - is what is the timeframe for this to work and what is the reward needed to make this work? Can I inject myself dopamine directly for doing something that I want to do - to biohack this? => this also reminds me of the idea of Learning how to Learn and might be one of the reasons why the Pomodoro technique is so good at fighting procrastinations - it is rewarding ourselves as a response to doing something necessary and beneficial - like learning - but does not come with its reward because our brain - back when it evolved did not depend on those behaviors and therefore does not have a capacity for releasing dopamine after we do them. However when we artificially introduce a stimulus - that does the same thing - namely, release dopamine after a beneficial behavior - we can learn this distinction ourselves.
=> this is nothing else - than Pavlovian conditioning on steroids - give a dog a treat after he has done something good - that he would otherwise not treat as beneficial. It goes even further because we have to create the trigger as well - just as we do with the dog. First, hear the whistle - then do the behavior - then get a treat. This makes way too much sense. => Problem with this strategy is that our brains are smart and we have to force ourselves to get this stimulus ONLY in the context of the work - or else we will binge on the stimulus and not associate it with the behavior we want - leading to the formation of a bad habit. => we have to keep ourselves from reward hacking our reward functions - that is just so much like an AI being its overseer and I wonder if one can find strategies for building successful habits within AI research.
Chapter 9 - The Role of Family and Friends in Shaping your Habits
Laszlo Polgar - a believer in the value of hard work:
A genius is not born but is educated and trained
He and his wife trained their children to be chess masters - they put up a reward system that made chess link to dopamine and craving. The children wanted to play chess - basically above everything else.
We do not learn habits - we imitate them. Whatever the social norms are - those are most likely what our habits are going to be as well. Because humans are social animals and want to fit in. Whatever behavior your family rewards you with - forms your early habits. => this once again is like the idea from the Wait But Why article of how to pick a career - common sense - and our parents and friends - to a large degree - determine who we want to be, because of this desire to fit in. => I also think that even single people's opinions and praise can be rather effective in enforcing this kind of habit - it does not even need much - that is why the ideas of how to win friends and influence people work so well. And why Jordan Petersson says - if you like something about someone - 1. notice it 2. Say it out loud. That is making it obvious AND attractive at the same step. Enforcing the behavior strongly - via a social bond. When following the habits and behaviors of others - we hijack the mental system that says - the things other humans do are good - and therefore produce a reward - and later on a craving when doing those things. => hence it becomes really important which group you surround yourself with. because your surrounding social sphere strongly shapes your behaviors - you want to have a good social sphere - where people do the kind of things you want to do. => once again Peterson also writes about this topic - in his book 12 Rules for life - the chapter and rule number 3 - Make friends with people who want the best for you - is exactly about that. Surround yourself with people who are good for you.
Atomic habits describe the idea of copying the behavior of people that are close to us even unconsciously and there is evidence for this also in the form of spiegel neurons. Therefore "Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. You'll rise together". It works even better when those people you surround yourself with are already like you in other aspects - because then your brain assimilates them as peers of the same group more easily - it feels like belonging there. This is utilizing the power of shared identities. It is not just assuming - I am or want to be a reader - but this whole group that I belong to - is the same way. Hence the brain wants to fit in and therefore does the things the group does as well.
=> looking at the Nazi Reich during the 2nd world war one can see how crazy far this group influence goes. Solomon Asch did a series of experiments on social conformity. Showing participants lines of different lengths and then letting them say out loud in a group one after another which line is the shortest - all of the people in the group except one would be actors though - and say the wrong line - leading to the utter confusion of the participant. But in the end, most people comply with the group and say the same wrong answer as everybody else. Just to fit in.
=> there is an amazing VSAUCE video on this. it is bewildering and has more examples https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbyIYXEu-nQ&vl=de
Chimps who know a technique to crack a nut will not use that technique when within a group that uses another technique - even if their method is more effective than the one the group uses. => this also reminds me once again of the Wait But Why article - those kinds of group beliefs - tend to assimilate in our brains as imposters - they are not TRUE and therefore do not get us closer to OUR goals and therefore should be found out and eliminated.
=> it also reminds me of - Ray Dalio's principles - Think for yourself. To figure out what you want, to find out what is true and how to achieve one in light of the other.
=> and of 12 Rules for Life - again. Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful. -> sometimes this might be the opposite of what everybody else thinks and does. Or at least something different.
=> also reminds me of Zero to One by Peter Thiel - His question of: "Do you know something to be true, that everybody else thinks is wrong?", tests for just this kind of thinking. The people who can resist the groupthink and think for themselves are the innovators of our society. The people who eventually succeed because they can overhaul and improve on the bad patterns laid out by other people - by the average of the population. Therefore people can be extraordinary - because they can behave in ways that are not within the ordinary.
On the other hand, Atomic Habits argues about imitating the powerful - which are successful because there is something our brain likes about success - namely the second-order effects it has - on things that we care about for survival - i.e. sex, food, shelter, etc. We want to behave in ways that give us success - hence it is attractive for us to imitate their habits and behaviors.
=> we want to feel important and care about what others think - this is the reason why we think certain habits are bad in the first place - even though they might not be - a lot of our value structures that we cling to - come in the first place not from first principles and our reasoning but simply by looking at what others do - and what makes us successful within this realm of hierarchy. that is what shapes our value structures and by extension our behavior.
=> reminds me of Peterson's lectures where he argues about the importance of competence hierarchies and how the most competent to rise to the top of the hierarchy and why we want to be the most competent across hierarchies. He and James Clear argue for the same thing - to achieve competence - because that is what others value - and we value ourselves by the way others value us. Hence being valuable is a measure of success and becoming valuable is a function of our habits - which we can shape by emulating the behaviors of other competent people - who are already at the top of competence hierarchies and we think of them as successful. Those people are idols and the like - people we can aspire to be like.
=> this, however, stands in some way in a direct contrast to - comparing yourself to yourself and not to others - and I think what this means is that one should only look for the directions in others but then once following this direction - only comparing once own progress to ones own progress - because climbing hierarchies - like building habits - is a slow process and therefore takes time.
Chapter 10 - How to Find and Fix the Causes of your Bad Habits
There is just a handful of underlying motives - because of evolutionary reasons - things that our brains look out for to learn how to behave - when we get those things we want to do the behavior that preceded them. "Habits are all about (these) associations". Environmental cues trigger predictions of what will happen next - and these predictions are followed up by matching behavior. "Desire is the difference of where you are now and where you want to be in the future." The things we crave are only solutions that change our internal states - solutions that we learned over time - we do not actually crave those solutions but the change in our internal state. To tolerate habits better - we should reframe our thinking of them so that we consider the positive sides of them. Associate triggers with behaviors - e.g. putting on headphones while working - Pavlovian conditioning. => reminds me highly of the idea of a study lamp - that one switches on whenever one wants to study - it is the same idea - the formation of a trigger leading to a certain behavior - or habit -> in this case learning. He calls this process reprogramming your predictions. When successful with it we can make hard habits easy. "Your habits are modern day solutions to ancient desires."
The 3rd Law - Make it Easy
Chapter 11 - Walk Slowly, but Never Backward
Perfectionism stops us from taking action. First focus on quantity, with it comes quality. "The best is the enemy of the good". It comes down to the difference between motion and action. Motion feels like doing something even though one actually does nothing. Action on the other hand is the thing that gets results. When being a perfectionist one spends a lot of time doing the motions - reading about things - but never doing them and hence one does not get anything done. Motion is a way of doing something without failing - that's why we prefer it over action. Action on the other hand is hard.
=> the idea sounds familiar - it is about stopping to consume and seeking for advice and instead doing stuff - just writing a blog, writing some code, starting a business - the mastery comes with practicing the stuff - no amount of learning will ever get you there.
=> the concept of motion also nicely relates to something termed metawork in programmer's circles. There is a great video by Fun Fun function about the idea.
Basically it is work that does not produce results but makes you feel busy - metawork vs. work and motion vs. action are the same distinction put into different phrases. Atomic habits even writes this: "Motion makes you feel like you get things done. But really you are just preparing to get things done" Which perfectly relates to the idea of setting up your IDE or something similar - which is metawork and a form of procrastination.
Next the author asks the question how long it takes to form a new habit. Long term potentiation is the process where neurons that fire together wire together. This is called Hebb's Law.
Habits - or better - repeated behavior leads to physical changes within the brain. Repetition is a way to change the structure of the brain. Higher number of repetitions leads to better automation - the amount of thoughtful effort the brain needs to induce to do the intended behaviour - which means the more one practices the easier it becomes - because it gets more and more automated with each repetition. The question from earlier - should be rephrased - how many repetitions does it need - not how long.
The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.
Habit formation is the process by which a behavior becomes progressively more automatic through repetition.
Chapter 12 - The Law of Least Effort
Humans are motivated to do what is easy and provides value. Hence we have to make habits easy. Doing 1 pushup is better than doing 100 each day. Because the latter is way less likely to stick and turn into a habit. Our daily behaviors are governed by convenience.
=> reminds me of Petersons rule - Pursue what is meaningful not what is expedient. Habits are obstacles between you and the things you want - the bigger the obstacle the less likely we are to get what we want. Making things easy does not mean to only do easy things - instead make the unit of change as small and therefore as easy as possible - in other words - make habits atomic.
One way to remove friction when it comes to habits is environment design. Subtract everything that is unnecessary - focus on the essentials - make things clutter free, straightforward and easy. "Business is a never ending quest to deliver the same result in an easier fashion." Add friction to habits that you want to stop - i.e. hide the remote control for the TV after using it and then throw away the batteries. Make the opposite for habits that you want to stick with - prepare the environment for doing the habit you want to have.
Chapter 13 - How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the Two Minute Rule
Which behaviors we do are decided by decisive moments. One small decisive moment has a whole chain of habits and behaviors attached that follow down the road. If many of our choices are good choices we have a good day - and the opposite can be said as well. The first choices play a more important role than the ones coming later - hence one conscious choice against or for something can influence a lot of other decisions down the road - in a way automating them. That is why we have to master decisive moments within a given day. And these decisive moments are habitual.
The two minute rule: "When you start a new habit it should take less than two minutes to do."
This makes habits as easy as possible to fulfill each day. Even though it might feel stupid the benefits strongly outweigh this feeling. Once started - the decisive moment is over and it is easier to keep doing the thing.
So 1 min more easily turns into 30 mins than the decision between not doing anything at all - or doing the thing for 30 mins at once. So facing the question of doing first - 1 min and then 29 more minutes - or 30 minutes all at once one can decide for the first option much more easily. It is also about showing up - about getting in the repetitions needed to make a habit stick.
Also - force yourself to only do the 2 minute version of your habit at first - if you expect yourself to trick yourself - oddly enough it is not going to work since the decision is still the same - and not between 2 minutes and 30 minutes but between 30 minutes or not doing it at all. The idea is this: "You are taking the smallest action that confirms the type of person you want to be." When the simple habit is established - slowly shape it back to what the original habit you want to have is.
Chapter 14 - How to Make Good Habits Inevitable and Bad habits Impossible
Control your bad habits by making them hard. One technique to do this is a commitment device. A commitment device is something that restricts choice - it is another form of an obstacle to a bad habit - it is a choice that prevents doing certain activities. Pay something up front for your habit - make losing a good habit cost you something - so that you do not want to lose it. Chose something effortful once which provides value again and again which accumulates over time. List of these one time choices: Smaller plates. Good mattress. Blackout curtains. Remove television. Usubscribe emails. Turn off notifications. Phone on silent. Email filtters. Delete games and social media. Block internet sites. Automatic Savings Plan. Cut cable service. Standing desk. Good shoes. -> use technology to make behaviors more convenient. Remove easy gratification strategies from the environment as much as possible. Make gratification for everything that is not the thing you want to do really hard. Remove the mental candy. This is the idea of a commitment device. By removing the options to do something by using technology - we commit ourselves to a narrower set of actions.
The 4th Law - Make It Satisfying
Chapter 15- The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change
During habits there has to be something that feels good - like the minty flavor of toothpaste. Without that habits don't stick. Cardinal rule of behavior change: "What is rewarded is repeated, What is punished is avoided. - Positive emotions create habits, negative emotions destroy them." The first 3 laws are there to make a behavior more likely to occur the first time - this last rule is to make a behavior more likely to occur the next time. It is about making a habit stick. It is about the completion of the habit loop - the thing that actually increases the neuronal connections within the brain. The pleasure - that leads to craving. What we need is immediate satisfaction.
Problem - we evolved in an immediate return environment. We seek out gratification that is instant. But we live in a delayed gratification world - a delayed return environment. The better we are at delaying gratification the more we succeed in this modern world. Humans have a tendency called time inconsistency that makes us prefer things which have an immediate impact over things that have a delayed impact. Because we evolved in a world which was ever changing and the chances of actually getting the delayed promised reward were in reality rather slim. "You value the present more than the future." "Every habit produces multiple outcomes across time. Unfortunately these outcomes are often misaligned." Since we value immediate effects more than later ones - we do things that are pleasurable for us now but destroy us in the long run. Like smoking, overeating etc. => this reminds me of why we do not do anything against Climate Change. Because of this tendency. Even though it is a destruction - because it is so remote, we never do anything about it until it is too late, because we simply value the immediate gratification much higher. We care about our cars, our good food, our standard of living that affects us now, but we do not care about the destruction of the whole planet - because it happens later. That is also the problem with habits - good habits don't feel good now but bad habits do. Good habits are good in the long run, bad habits are damaging us in the long run. Our brains prefer the bad habits over the good ones though. Frederic Bastiat: "Often the sweeter the first fruit of a habit the more bitter are its late fruits" => also distinction between the experiencing and remembering self from Kahnemann. We choose to do something that we experience as pleasurable over something that we remember to be good for ourselves. The thing making decisions is the experiencing and not the remembering self - even though we should make decisions based on the remembering self. The cardinal rule of behavior change needs an update: "What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided." The problem is - this is common knowledge - even though we all know that not doing the bad thing is the right choice but pleasure overwrites this. We are not driven by our thoughts - but instead by our habits and cravings - and these do not bring choices with them. Because they are by definition automatic and we do not think about them. And the thing we build as a habit is built by the rule above. So we can use it to make bad habits less likely to occur and good ones more likely to occur. By adding immediate pain or immediate pleasure to the behavior we want to make into a habit. When finishing a positive habit we need some form of reward - so that our brains excrete dopamine and rewire so that we crave the habit the next time we are presented with the cue. After some time this connection is so strong that the reward is not even needed anymore because the habit became part of our identity. When doing it we feel good - because that is who we are and what we want to be doing. "Incentives can start a habit. Identiy sustains it." When wanting to develop a habit - that habit needs to be enjoyable.
Chapter 16 - How to Stick with Good Habits Every Day
Have a form of visual measurement. When doing the behavior we want - we need to make it visible. Have a journal for habits. Have a calendar and mark each spot in the calendar with a symbol. Have a glass with marbles or pins or something and transfer one of the items to another container whenever doing the action -> he recommends something he calls the Habit Tracker. Cross of each day you did the habit in a calendar and do not break the chain. Tracking a behavior makes it obvious when or when we do not do it. That is important because it engages the thinking part of the brain and gets us motivated to do the behavior - or don't do it. Habit tracking is attractive - we want to see our own progress - we do not want to break the chain and we want to add extra X's to each day. It also focuses on the process - keeping the streak alive focuses on the thing you want to be doing - not the thing you want to get to - your goal. This helps achieve and even overachieve the goals eventually - since it is all about being consistent and getting consistently better at the behaviors one does. However habit tracking is an extra burden. You need to do a second thing consistently - not just the habit itself but also the tracking of the habit. So how to make tracking easier? Automate as much as possible. Gather the data by technology. Consistently track one - then expand. Only track the habits most important. Track habit directly after you did it. "The completion of the behavior is the cue to write it down." Rule for emergencies: "Never miss twice." "The first mistake is never the ones that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit." A loss hurts more than a potential gain. Charlie Munger: "The first rule of compounding: never interrupt it unnecessarily." - Do not let losses eat into your compounding - doing anything is better than doing nothing - keep the streak alive - even if that means only doing the thing your habit consists of for a very small time. Instead of meditating 1 h like you usually do - still do 10 mins. Or 5. Or 1. Just do not make it 0 mins and do not meditate that day. "It is crucial to show up when you do not feel like it. Even if you do less than you hope." When measuring something - take great care to measure the right thing - otherwise you do not get mthe behavior you want but the behavior that maximizes the thing you measure. "In short we optimize for what we measure." => once again this reminds me strongly of the problems we see within AI research - namely perverse ninstantiations where an AI basically hacks the system and does something stupid that in a weird andw perverse way maximizes what we measure and expect the AI to do. It is another form of reward hacking. Just like the idea of us craving things and overloading our senses with the things that we crave is a form of reward hacking because we as an intelligent species found out how our reward functions work and can therefore feed in social media instead of social interactions. Charles Goodhart: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
Chapter 17 - How an Accountability Partner Can Change Everything
A mistake corrects behavior - the larger the mistake and failure the faster we can learn from it. "When the consequences are sever people learn quickly." Punishment must be in relation to the habit one wants to discourage - the cost of doing something unhealthy must be greater than the cost of doing something healthy. "In general - the more local, tangible, concrete and immediate the consequence, the more likely it is to influence individual behavior." One way to have such a cost attached to a bad habit is a habit contract. The idea is simple - get other persons involved that you pay some cost whenever they catch you doing your bad habit. Write down the terms and conditions - and then sign it together with the other person. The idea is not only that there is a cost which we actually pay to the other partner or some charity organisation or soome such. But furthermore there is the cost of looking bad in the other persons eyes. We deeply care for the opinion of others and hence we want to look good in their eyes. It makes the violation of our own rules painful and therefore unsatisfying.
Advanced Tactics - How to go from Being merely good to Being Truly Great
Chapter 18 - The Truth About Talent (When Genes Matter and When They Don't)
The secret to maximizing your odds of successes is to choose the right field of competition. There is genetic variation between individuals making every individual a little better suited to a certain task - the idea is that one has to find that task because that would make getting into habits easier - because it then becomes easier to be successful at whatever one is doing. "Competence is highly dependent on context." When finding out the right context one has to look at our abilities as well as our ambitions and need to choose something that fits both. Genes influence our personality - which leads to persons being categorizable into the big five - OCEAN. Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism. => something he does not think about - these are subject to change throughout the course of life. Even when there are tendencies laid down by genetics these are HEAVILY influenced by our experiences later. Once again - the picture that Robert Sapolsky paints of those ideas is much more complete. => also there is a lot more to say about the idea of the Big Five and the Jordan Petersson letures about psychology are a great explainer on all of them. He covers them in a lot more detail than half a page within this bug - and the importance these actually pay within career choices. => another person to acknowledge the power of the Big Five assessment test and other personality tests like it is Ray Dalio. His companies use it extensively to determine who and who not to hire. => the same is true for a relative of mine who runs a Biolab as a professor at a university - they look out for people that specifically match a certain behavior and personality profile so that they fit into the job as perfectly as possible. => All of those agree however that there are certain things that we are better suited for and that we should seek to go into these areas and that is the main claim that Atomic Habits also makes. Design or find habits that naturally align with your tendencies - be that personality or skills or talents or whatever. However the key is finding the game which you can enjoy because your chances of success are higher than other peoples chances because of your genetic markup. "In theory you can enjoy almost anything. In practice you are more likely to enjoy things that come easily to you." => I would be very careful with this idea - because it can lead to people not finding out things about themselves and not growing as persons over their own boundaries. So many things that we do not have a natural inkling for at first we can become really really good at over time and are things we actually tend to enjoy. For example I never was really musically adept - I struggled during the time in school where I needed to attend music lessons - but recently I picked up the piano because I got fascinated by a friend who showed me a different aspect of it and one could argue that I am not suited for it bla bla bla - fact is I have so much fun playing it EVEN though I am still horrible - that this is enough to motivate me to get better. And lo and behold I do get better - at least a little tiny bit - every day. Therefore I do not really like this idea of doing only the things one is "suited" for - because that does not make much sense. Also maybe picking the wrong habit and struggling is a way to achieve something that is valuable - how to differentiate between a struggle that is entirely fixed on personality and something that is not? Maybe the thing is inherently hard and EVERYBODY - no matter what personality or genes - at first struggles at it. => furthermore this hides the Jungian idea of the shadow - to grow as a person - we have to learn also about the things that we are bad at - when we are introverted - we should try to get a little more extroverted so that we are more balanced overall. This is the way to achieve personal victory.
How to find the right thing to do? -> Problem is the explore/exploit trade off. Idea - try out many possibilities at the beginning of each activity. Dating, split testing etc. then after this initial period - shift the focus to the thing that worked best during this period and focus on it. Occasionaly experiment again. "If you are currently winning you exploit, exploit, exploit. If you are currently losing you explore, explore, explore." Follow the 80/20 Rule when assigning this amount of exploration vs. exploitation. Time plays a role as well - when having lots of it one can still explore lots of different options - since even when exploring for a long time - once one has found the "ideal" fit - one still has lots of time left to exploit. Questions to ask while exploring, to narrow down the search scope:
- What feels like fun to me but work to others? -> search for tolerances
- What makes me lose track of time? -> search for flow activites
- Where do I get greater returns than the average person? -> search for "talents"
- What comes naturally to me? -> search for imposters -> it has to be myself who likes it - not the idea of my parents liking what I do => this is typical WaitButWhy imposter search. In general all of these are part of the WaitButWhy idea of finding a career. "A good player creates a new game that favors their strengths and avoids their weaknesses." Find the thing that you can excel at - then exploit it. Determine the ground on which you play and the game you are playing. "Our genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on." Genes can not make somebody successful if they do not put in the hard work required - they can only show them the right direction. "Work hard on the things that come easy."
Chapter 19 - The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work
Work on tasks of just manageable difficulty. The idea is that of deliberate practice - push yourself to a little outside what you can already do - that is where you will learn the most - and intriguingly have the most motivation and fun to learn. It is the area where flow lives and thrives. We have to put in a lot of this effort to get really good at anything. Practice like this is the cornerstone of mastery. And hence habits that make us practice like this are the most important to achieve anything. This rule of doing things that are just within our zone of competence is called the Goldilocks Rule by Atomic habits - but is known as Yerkes-Dodson law in psychology. For achieving flow states - tasks have to be 4% outside of our current abilities. "Improvement requires a delicate balance. You need to regularly search for challenges that push you to your edge while continuing to make enough progress to stay motivated." "Behaviors need to remain novel in order for them to stay attractive and satisfying without variety we get bored and bordem is perhaps the greatest villain on the quest for self improvement."
When doing a routine - a habit - it after some time becomes boring. But practice is necessary for mastery - so the people who can get the habit without getting bored by it are the ones who are going to be successful. He cites Machiavelli: "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." We crave novelty - and hence addiction like behaviors provide novel experiences every time - be it porn, junk foodh or video games. It is about getting a different stimulus - so as not to get bored over and over again. That is essentially what addiction comes down to. Varying rewards increase the amount of behavior. Because then we have to work hard to get the results - the harder we work the higher the likelihood we get the reward - at least that is what our brains assume. Desire lives at a 50% chance of getting the reward. That is why the Goldilocks Rule works as well - challenges just outside the things we can do - tend to fail around 50% of the time - motivating us to do them even more - while also preventing boredom. But however variable the rewards - at some point boredom starts. => interestingly enough - this is the problem of the 3rd stage within meditation once the practice has been established, the minds of people get bored and the meditation becomes a drag and we start to resist our own set up habit - and that is what breaks it in the end. That is why: "At some point everyone faces the same challenge on the journey of self improvement.: They have to fall in love with boredom." You have to put in the work even when it is boring. Not just when it is exciting and novel. "Stepping up when it is annoying or painful or draining to do so that is what makes the difference between a professional and an amateur."
Chapter 20 - The Downside of Creating Good Habits
When doing habits - we chunk information into automated units - the problem however is that those units might only be good enough - and not great and then the value of habits turns around. Because we only reinforce behavior that is at it's core flawed. There is a dip in performance once we have learned a skill - for most things that is ok - but for things where we want to excel this is bad. That's why we have to put in deliberate practice: Habits + Deliberate Practice = mastery. After one habits has been mastered we have to create a new habit that focuses on the mastery of a different aspect of the same task. Or on a different task. Habits unlock performance increases in a never ending cycle. When only repeating the same habit over and over again the learning curve dampens whereas with more than one habit - i.e. mastering a field or skill set - we transition to new habits once the learning curve dampens and therefore keep learning new skills at a crazy rate. Refine and improve over time - to notice that we actually do that there has to be a system for it - the system for reflection and review. Story of the lakers implementing a detailed measurement system to see how good each player is individually across time and against others and then using this metric to push and refine the skills they have. They improved their habits - with crazy results. => this is part of the idea of 7 habits of highly successful people - it is reviewing where one is at right now, where one wants to go and then figuring out how to get there - it should be deeply implemented within once life - as a part of sharpening the saw - which is the 7th habit. Journaling and note taking are so effective at improving performance because they attach to this idea - they are essentially reviewing our lives on a day to day basis.
The idea of a decision journal is also funny for investors and CEO's. Why one makes certain decisions and then noting down the actual and the expected outcome - and then using this as a metric to improve on the good choices and cut down on the negative ones. There should be different timeframes employed when doing this review process - one ongoing and one focused on the bigger picture. Annual Reviw - is the progress of the whole year asking 3 questions:
- What went well this year?
- What did not go so well this year?
- What did I learn? Half yearly - doing an integrity report. It is about making mistakes and revisiting core values. Reflecting on the identity and the type of person one wants to be. Again three questions:
- What are the core values that drive my life and work?
- How am I living and working with integrity right now?
- How can I set a higher standard to myself in the future? It is about paying close attention - and only a few hours every year can have significant impact. Reviewing is also about reformulating the most important aspect of behavior change - identity. "The more sacred an idea is to us - that is the more deeply it is tied to our identity the more strongly we will defend it against criticism." Paul Graham: "Keep your identity small" That means - do not let something entirely define you - but be a multifaceted person - then changing one aspect of your identity becomes a lot easier since it is only an aspect and this change is necessary to improve over time - because new discoveries and ideas lead to learning and growth and finding out how the world works can improve our life - as long as we are able to incorporate this knowledge and do not get hung up on our own identities. "When you cling too tightly to one identity you become brittle. Lose that one thing and you lose yourself." Identity should be flexible - it should not be defined by things you are but rather by things you do. Hbits can actually lock us in - making our identities less flexible than they should be - and that is why we need to review them and think about them and then be able to change them to better reflect what our identity should be at that moment in time. "A lack of self awareness is poison. Reflection and review are the antidote."
Conclusion: The Secret to Results That Last:
Sorites Paradox - Can one coin make you rich? And another? And another? At some point one coin makes a person rich.
The idea of habit change is not the single percent improvement - it is the compounding effect of a 1000 or a 100.000 of those. Having those changes depends on having a good system in place to shape those habits and to stick with them for a long enough time.
Or break them if you have determined that they are detrimental to the type of person you want to be.
This book showed a system that can help you how to do that in your life.
The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements.
Small habits don't add up, they compound.