New Year’s Resolution Time! How did you do last year?
I will be posting on how I did in the next few posts, but reading this book, Atomic Habits, at the end of December was very inspiring for me.
In the book, Atomic Habits, the author, James Clear, talks about making small improvements everyday. He talks about having structures around the goals you want to accomplish, with a series of tiny changes you want to make.
James Clear gives a nod to the book The Power of Habit when he talks about cue, craving, response, reward—the work of Charles Duhigg. I wrote about The Power of Habit here:
From the description of Atomic Habits on Amazon:
“If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.”
One of the vital concepts in Atomic Habits is to hone in on the wee gain.
Did I say “wee”? Yes, microscopic, modest, minute. Think of one penny out of one hundred. 1%. Everyday.
James Clear writes convincingly how the 1% improvement produces big results over time. “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement,” explains Clear.
From a reviewer of Atomic Habits on Amazon:
“The message is this: success isn’t determined by the scale of your dreams. Winners and losers have the same dreams. But the winners have better habits.”
This link takes you to a 6 minute video of James Clear discussing his book on CBS Morning (scroll down on the page):
The Big Ideas for me:
- The idea of 1% compounding into big improvement.
- I have learned that my structures around the habit are key and this book reinforces that.
- In the above video at jamesclear.com, he says “Habits are not a finish line to be crossed—they are a lifestyle to be lived.”
- Another quote from the video, “Environment is an invisible hand that shapes human behavior. We react to cues in our environment.” He has many good examples of this in the book. For instance he put his fruits and vegetables in his crisper in his fridge where he would forget about them. He then put his apples in a bowl on the counter and he would eat them because he could see them.
- “Addition by subtraction” you look for every point of friction that can stop you from achieving your habit. Think of ways to simplify, pare down or eliminate ways that will impede your process. That helps you build a successful structure for your habit.
- How to stop procrastinating by using the 2 minute rule. Just start and do it for two minutes–that’s it.
- “Decisive moments”. If I put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning there is a good chance I will exercise.
- Use “Temptation Bundling” to make your habits more attractive. I do this when I listen to books or talks while I exercise. It helps me be distracted from the feeling that I don’t feel like moving on certain mornings. He has a lot of good examples of this.
- Never miss twice. You can miss one day of your habit for many reasons, but missing twice will start a new habit of not doing your original habit.
A 1% change I have made this week:
Because I am a life long member of the Clean-Your-Plate Club–having been trained very well by parents raised in the Great Depression–my 1% habit I am trying to form is to leave food on my plate. At every meal. It is managed attention. It is helping me not eat mindlessly, but to slow down so I am satiated and feel okay about leaving that little last bite. After four days of doing this I was surprised when I didn’t down the third taco at a favorite restaurant on Friday night. I always eat the third taco! Even if I was full. Because I have been mindful of not eating every bite, in the space between the second and third taco I was able to resist and know that I could eat it later when I was more hungry. That is a little gain in my world. A seismic shift is starting—I can feel it!