Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear
Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Be more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

Plateau of Latent Potential

26 degree, 27, 29 30, 31, then at 32 the ice begins to melt

Cancer spends 80 percent of its life undetectable, then takes over the body in months

Bamboo spends first 5 years building roots underground, then explodes to 90 ft in 6 weeks

Habits appear to make no difference until you cross a certain threshold

  • That’s not to say your efforts are being wasted. They’re just being stored.

Focus On Systems instead of Goals

Every candidate wants to get the job

Every Olympian wants to win the medal

You do not rise to the level of my goals. You fall to the highest level of my systems.

Problems with Goals

Problem#1 – Winners and losers have the same goals, what separates them is the system

Goals are good for setting us a direction but systems are best for making progress

Problem #2 – Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.

Take clean room for example. If you don’t change your system, your habits, your behavior that led me to a messy room in first place, it’s just a matter of time you will be looking at a new pile of clutter.

Problem #3 – Goals restrict your happiness.

It makes no sense to restrict your happiness to 1 scenario when there are many paths to happiness.

Problem #4 – Goals can create yo-yo effect.

Runners work hard when the competition is near. When they cross the finish line, they stop training altogether. Many people revert to same old habits after achieving a goal.

3 Levels of Habit Change

Identity – Process – Outcome

My identity emerges out of my habits, in other words, repeated beingness

For the true change, start with identity

There’s a difference between No thanks I’m trying to quit and No thanks I’m not a smoker.

There’s a difference between I read a book and I’m a reader.

Habit change is not about having something, it’s about becoming something

Four Stages of Habit Building / Breaking

Cues – Craving – Response – Reward

You walk into a dark room (cue).

You want to see and be seen (craving).

You want switch on the lights (response).

You can now see and be seen (reward).

Form a Good Habit

Cue 🡪 Make it obvious.

Craving 🡪 Make it attractive.

Response 🡪 Make it easy.

Reward 🡪 Make it satisfying.

Break a Bad Habit

Cue 🡪 Make it invisible.

Craving 🡪 Make it unattractive.

Response 🡪 Make it difficult.

Reward 🡪 Make it unsatisfying.

Cue – Make it Obvious

It’s easy not to read a book when the books are out of sight

It’s easy not to take your protein when it’s put in the cabinet

It’s easier to build new habits in the new environment because you’re not fighting against old cues

In that sense you should read in a library not in front of your computer

Habit Scorecard

A simple exercise you can use to become more aware of my behaviors

Wake up (=)

Grab a coffee (=)

Scroll facebook (-)

Read a book (+)

Dress up (=)

Hit gym (+)

Cue – Make it Invisible

Showing drug addicts a picture of cocaine for just 30 secs stimulates the reward pathway in the brain and sparks desire.

Instead of summoning new dose of willpower every time I want to do the right thing, you better spend your time optimizing the environment

Instead of resisting Facebook and Youtube, you should keep your computer off.

Dynamic Contrast (Foods)

After few minutes eating foods, your brain loses interest and you begin to feel full.

Foods with dynamic contrast (creamy and crunchy, sweet and spicy) keeps the experience novel and interesting, encouraging you to eat more and more.


Dopamine is released when anticipating pleasure (sometimes more so) than when experiencing pleasure.

Gambling addicts have a dopamine spike right before they place a bet, not after they win.

Cocaine addicts have a domaine surge when they see the powder, not after they take it.

Pointing and Calling

Hearing your bad habits spoken out loud makes consequences seem more real.

I’m about to eat a cookie and I’m about to eat more sugar!

This pointing-and-calling raise your level of awareness from a non-conscious habit to a more conscious habit by verbalizing your actions.

Cue – Make it Attractive

Strategy is to pair a habit (YOU NEED) with a habit (YOU WANT), so as to make your habit building more attractive.


After I pull out my phone, I will do 10 burpees. Then, I will scroll Facebook.

After I open my laptop, I will write an article. Then, I will browse YouTube.

AMC associates the thing they need you to do (buy Friday movies) with activities they want you to do (relax, drink, eat a snack and watch a movie).

Overtime, you start to connect your Friday nights with some snacks and a movie at ABC.

Role of Family in Friends

Nothing sustains motivation better than feeling belonged to the tribe

Most days, we’d rather be wrong with the group than be right alone

Join a group whose desired behavior is same as yours

Just Switch ONE Word to Enjoy Hard Habits

Switch from ‘have’ to ‘get’ to shift my way I view each event.

I get to go to work. I get to make another sales call. I get to cook dinner for my family.

I’m not confined to my wheelchair I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound.

Stop Planning, Start Practicing

The higher the frequency the faster you can string each attempt and create habits.

2-Minutes Habits

When you start a hard habit, you should start small and sometimes just show up!

It’s better to go to gym and stay 2 minutes than not going at all.

It’s better to read a page than not opening a book at all.

You have to standardize before you can optimize. You can’t improve a habit that does not exist.

As you master the art of showing up, the first 2 minutes simply become a ritual at the beginning of a larger routine.

Create Frictions for Bad Habits

Ask someone to reset your password on Monday mornings. Ask him to send me the password on Friday night so you can enjoy Facebook on weekend. Rinse and repeat.

Track Habits

After you hang up the phone from a sales call, move a paper clip over.

After you finish a workout session, move a marble over.

After you finish reading a book, line it on the bookshelf.

Stick with Good Habits

Never miss twice. Everyone misses once. Accident always happens.

Genetics influence Everything

Scientists have stopped testing to see if traits have a genetic component because they can’t find a single one that isn’t influenced by our genes.

Talent isn’t a permission to stop working. It’s an indicator where I need to work hard!

Play a game that favors your genes. If you can’t find a game, create one!

Personality Traits – Big FIVE

Openness – Conscientiousness – Neuroticism – Agreeableness – Extroversion

Openness – How open I am

Conscientiousness – How organized and diligent I am

Neuroticism – How anxious I am

Agreeableness – How agreeable I am

Extroversion – How outgoing I am

Create Your Own Game

Good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing

Great player creates a new game that favors their strengths and avoids their weaknesses

Google famously asks employees to spend 80 percent of their time on official work, and remaining 20 percent on the projects of their choice, which led to creation of Gmail and AdWords.

Boiling water Softens a Potato but Hardens an Egg

You can’t control whether you are a potato or an egg. But you can choose a game where it’s better to be hard or soft.

Boredom is the Enemy

Men desire for novelty has come to an extent that those who are doing well desire change as much as those who are not.

Anyone can work hard when they’re motivated. It’s the ability to keep going when the work isn’t exciting that separates the elite from the average

Habits alone is not Enough

Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result

Habits are required but not sufficient for mastery

Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery

Habits need Reflection

While habits help us automate decisions and actions without thinking, downside is we stop paying attention to errors and status quo

Record your major decisions you made over the month, why you made them and what you expected the outcome to be.

Come back and review later to see where you were right and wrong.

Fine tune, upgrade or downgrade your habits when necessary.

Annual Review

  1. What went well this year?
  1. What didn’t go well this year?
  1. What did I learn?

Integrity Report

  1. What are core values that drive my life?
  1. How am I maintaining integrity right no?
  1. How can I improve my integrity?

Be Flexible to Change

Men are born soft and supple: dead, they’re stiff and hard. Whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.

You need to periodically check in your habits to see if they’re still serving you.

Intense Identity can sometimes backfire

A veteran manager is committed to doing this ‘his way’

A teacher ignores innovative teaching methods and sticks with her try-and-true lessons

The tighter we cling to an identity the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.

Solution : Redefine yourself to keep important aspects of your identity even if your particular role changes

I am IT guy becomes I’m the type of person who loves to help people and try different things

I am an athlete becomes I’m the type of person who is active and loves physical challenge

Small Habits Compound

It’s remarkable the friends you can make if you don’t stop caring

It’s remarkable the muscle you can build if you don’t stop working out

It’s remarkable the knowledge you can obtain if you don’t stop reading