I just finished Atomic Habits by James Clear.

This is the type of book you want to read so fast (so you can put it to use). It’s all signal and no filler.

The 4 step habit framework underpins the entire book but each chapter also stands on it’s own. This isn’t surprising because it started as a series of blog posts.

There are many takeaways from the book, and Clear has done readers a great service by creating a cheatsheet of the habits framework.

I also really enjoyed the summaries at the end of every chapter. More books, especially non-fiction, should do this.

Some of the key points that I found useful:

  • Every human behaviour follows the habit loop - cue, craving, response, and reward - most times without our awareness. Building habits is about understanding and being intentional about this loop.
  • We too often start with trying to change our behaviours directly. Instead, start by defining your identity (or desired one), and then the behaviours will follow. He writes about this here. Specifically focus on the 3 layers of behaviour change - identity, process, and outcome.
  • Behaviour change follows the path of least resistance. Set up your environment and understand yourself to prevent the cues for bad habits. This is a form of inversion applied to habit forming.
  • Habit stacking is about attaching a new behaviour to an existing one. It can be an effective way to start a new habit (existing behaviour becomes a cue for the new one, and can also be a reward if it’s more desirable).
  • Sometimes, it just comes down to writing it down and saying it aloud. James provides some simple affirmation statements for habit building (called “implementation intentions”).
  • Making it satisfying comes down to chasing the feeling once you’re done the behaviour (which is instant) vs. chasing the result (which is delayed). Focusing on the latter decreases the likelihood of sticking with the habit.