Atomic Habits – James Clear


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What are Habits?

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

However, when we repeat 1 percent of our mistakes day after day by repeating bad decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and making small excuses, our small decisions lead to toxic results.

Favorite Highlights

Success is the product of everyday habits – not one-time transformations.

Your results are a measure of your habits. Your wealth is a measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.

Time increases the span between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.

If you have trouble building a good habit or breaking a bad one, it’s not because you’ve lost your ability to improve. It’s often because you haven’t yet passed the plateau of latent potential. Complaining about not achieving success despite hard work is like complaining about an ice cube that won’t melt when you heat it from twenty-five to thirty-one degrees. Your work wasn’t wasted, it’s just being saved. The whole action takes place at thirty-two degrees.

Antonio Spurs, one of the most successful teams in NBA history, has a quote from social reformer Jacob Riis in their locker room:

When nothing seems to help, I look at a stonemason hammering on his rock, maybe a hundred times, without a crack in it. But on the one hundredth blow, it will split in two, and I know it wasn’t the last blow that did it – but everything that had gone before.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard. The only way to actually win is to get better every day. In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, „The score takes care of itself.“ The same is true in other areas of life. If you want better results, forget about setting goals (Goals). Instead, focus on their system.

Goals are good for setting direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems occur when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing their systems.

A systems-first mentality is the antidote. If you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be happy any time the system is running. And a system can succeed in many different ways, not just the one you first envision.

The purpose of goal setting is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue the game. True long-term thinking is aimless thinking. It is not about a single achievement. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it’s your commitment to the process that determines your progress.

You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Most people don’t even think about changing their identity when they want to improve. They just think, „I want to be thin (outcome) and if I stick to this diet, I’ll be thin (process).“ They set goals and determine the actions they should take to achieve those goals without considering the beliefs that drive their actions. They never change the way they view themselves, and they don’t realize that their old identity can sabotage their new plans for change. Behind every system of actions is a system of beliefs.

■ The goal is not to read a book, but to become a reader.
■ The goal is not to run a marathon, but to become a runner.
■ The goal is not to learn an instrument, but to become a musician.

Many people go through life in a cognitive sleep, blindly following the norms associated with their identity.
■ „I’m terrible with instructions.“
■ „I’m not a morning person.“
■ „I have trouble remembering people’s names.“
■ „I’m always late.“
■ „I am not good with technology.“
■ „I’m terrible at math.“ … And a thousand other variations. When you repeat a story for years, it’s easy to slip into those mental grooves and accept it as fact.

In the long run, the real reason you don’t stick to habits is that your self-image gets in the way. For this reason, you can’t get too attached to one version of your identity. Progress requires unlearning. To become the best version of yourself, you must continually work on your beliefs and improve and expand your identity.

Your identity is created from your habits. You are not born with preset beliefs. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience.

More specifically, your habits are how you embody your identity. If you make your bed every day, you embody the identity of an organized person. If you write every day, you embody the identity of a creative person. If you exercise every day, you embody the identity of an athletic person.

Whatever your identity is right now, you believe it only because you have evidence of it. If you go to church every Sunday for twenty years, you have evidence that you are religious. If you study biology for an hour every night, you have evidence that you are diligent. If you go to the gym even when it snows, you have evidence that you are committed to fitness. The more evidence you have of a belief, the stronger you will believe in it.

This is a gradual development. We don’t change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone brand new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are constantly undergoing microevolutions of the self.

Each habit is like a suggestion, „Hey, maybe this is me.“ If you finish a book, maybe you’re the guy who likes to read. If you go to the gym, maybe you’re the guy who likes to exercise. If you play the guitar, maybe you’re the type who likes music.

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become.

Building better habits is not about littering your day with life hacks. It’s not about brushing a tooth every night, taking a cold shower every morning, or wearing the same outfit every day. It’s not about achieving external measures of success, like making more money, losing weight, or reducing stress. Habits can help you achieve all of those things, but fundamentally, it’s not about having something. It’s about becoming someone.

Ultimately, your habits are important because they help you become the kind of person you want to be. You are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Literally, you become your habits.

If you are still having trouble evaluating a particular habit, I like to use the following question, „Is this behavior helping me become the guy I want to be? Does this habit work for or against my desired identity? “ Habits that reinforce your desired identity are usually good. Habits that conflict with your desired identity are usually bad.

Many people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity. It is not always clear when and where action needs to be taken.

„Disciplined“ people are better able to structure their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations (Read my article „How to stop procrastination“).

The people with the best self-control are usually the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self-control when you don’t have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance and willpower are very important for success, but the way to improve these traits is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.

It’s easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect side hustle idea. We get so focused on finding the best approach that we never get around to actually doing anything. As Voltaire once wrote, „The best is the enemy of the good.“

If exercise doesn’t produce results, why do we do it? Sometimes we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. But mostly we do it because exercise makes us feel like we are making progress without the risk of failure.

Most of us are experts at avoiding criticism. It doesn’t feel good to fail or be judged publicly, so we tend to avoid situations where that might happen. And that’s the main reason you’re moving instead of taking action: You want to avoid failure. It’s easy to be in motion and convince yourself that you’re still making progress. You think, „I’m having conversations with four potential clients right now. That’s good. We’re moving in the right direction. “ Or, „I’ve come up with some ideas for the book I want to write. That’s coming together. “ Moving makes you feel like you’re getting things done. But really, you’re just preparing to get things done. When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something. You don’t want to just plan. You want to practice.

If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t have to assign every characteristic to a new habit. You just have to practice it. This is the first part of the 3rd Law: you just have to put in your repetitions.

The greater the obstacle – that is, the more difficult the habit – the more friction there is between you and your desired end state. For this reason, it’s important to make your habits simple enough that you can do them even when you don’t feel like it. If you can make your good habits comfortable, you’ll be more likely to do them.

Of course, you are capable of doing very hard things. The problem is that some days you feel like doing hard work and some days you don’t. On hard days, it’s critical that as many things as possible work in your favor so that you can overcome the challenges that life naturally brings. The less friction you have, the easier it is for your stronger self to emerge.

„When I walk into a room, everything is in the right place“. „Because I do this every day in every room, stuff always stays in good shape…. People think I work hard, but I’m really lazy. I’m just proactively lazy. It gives you so much time back. „

Nuckols
We are more likely to repeat a behavior if the experience is satisfying. This makes perfect sense. Pleasurable sensations – even minor ones like washing your hands with soap that smells good and lathers well – are signals that tell the brain, „That feels good. Do that again next time. “ Pleasure teaches your brain that a behavior is worth remembering and repeating.

Each habit leads to multiple outcomes over time. Unfortunately, these results are often misaligned. With our bad habits, the immediate result usually feels good, but the final result feels bad. With good habits, it’s the other way around: the immediate result is not pleasing, but the final result feels good. French economist Frédéric Bastiat explained the problem clearly when he wrote, „It almost always happens that the later consequences are disastrous when the immediate consequences are good, and vice versa. „

In other words, the cost of your good habits is in the present. The cost of your bad habits is in the future.

The brain’s tendency to prioritize the present moment means you can’t rely on good intentions. When you make a plan-to lose weight, to write a book, or to learn a language-you’re actually making plans for your future self. And when you envision what you want your life to look like, it’s easy to see the value in taking action with long-term benefits. We all want a better life for our future selves. However, when the moment of decision arrives, instant gratification usually wins. You no longer make a choice for „Future You“ who dreams of being fitter or richer or happier. You make a choice for „Present You,“ who wants to be full, pampered, and entertained. The more immediate the enjoyment of an action, the more you should usually ask yourself if you are in alignment with your long-term goals.

Here’s the problem: Most people know that delaying gratification is the smart approach. You want the benefits of good habits: being healthy, productive and at peace. But those outcomes are rarely at the forefront of people’s minds at the crucial moment. Fortunately, it is possible to practice delaying gratification – but you must work with the grain of human nature, not against it. The best way to do this is to give a little immediate pleasure to the habits that pay off in the long run, and a little immediate pain to those that don’t.

The most important thing to getting a firmly established habit is to feel successful – even if it’s just a small part. Feeling successful is a signal that your habit is paying off and that the work has paid off. In a perfect world, the reward for a good habit is the habit itself. In the real world, good habits usually don’t feel valuable until they are finished. Early on, it’s all broken. You’ve gone to the gym a few times, but you’re not stronger or fitter or faster – at least not literally. It’s only months later, when you’ve lost a few pounds or deune arms have gained definition, that it becomes easier to work out for your own sake. In the beginning, we need a reason to stay on track. That’s why immediate rewards are essential. You get excited while delayed rewards accumulate in the background.

Immediate reinforcement can be especially helpful when you’re dealing with avoidance habits, which are behaviors you want to stop. It can be difficult to stick to habits like „no frivolous purchases“ or „no alcohol this month“ because nothing will happen if you skip happy hour drinks or don’t buy that pair of shoes. It can be difficult to feel satisfied if no action is taken at all. All you’re doing is resisting temptation, and there’s not much satisfaction in that.

One solution is to turn the situation on its head. You want to make avoidance visible. Open a savings account and label it with something you want – maybe „leather jacket.“ When you avoid a purchase (shopping), put the same amount of money in the account. Skipped Starbucks coffee? Transfer the $5. Avoided another month of Netflix? Move 15€ to the account. It’s like you’re creating a loyalty program for yourself. The immediate reward of saving money on that leather jacket feels much better than being robbed. You make it satisfying to do nothing.

It’s worth noting that it’s important to choose short-term rewards that reinforce your identity, rather than ones that contradict it. Buying a new jacket is fine if you’re trying to lose weight or read more books, but it doesn’t work if you’re trying to save money. Instead, a bubble bath or a leisurely walk are good examples of how you could reward yourself with free time that meets your ultimate goal of more freedom and financial independence. If your reward for working out is going out for ice cream, you’re casting votes for conflicting identities and it all comes to naught. Maybe your reward is a massage instead, which is both a luxury and a care for your body. Now the short-term reward is aligned with your long-term vision of being a healthy person.

When intrinsic rewards like a better mood, more energy, and less stress occur, you will eventually care less about pursuing the secondary reward. Identity itself becomes the reinforcer. You do it because it’s you and it feels good to be you. The more a habit becomes part of your life, the less you need outside encouragement to persevere. Incentives can start a habit. Identity sustains a habit.

In summary, a habit must be fun for it to last. Simple reinforcers – like soap that smells good, or toothpaste that has a refreshing minty flavor, or having $50 in your bank account – can provide the immediate pleasure you need to enjoy a habit. And change is easy when it’s fun.

„Don’t break the chain“ is a powerful mantra. Don’t break the chain of sales calls and you’ll be a successful businessman / businesswoman. Don’t break the chain of training and you’ll get fit faster than expected.

The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. Forgetting something once is not bad. Forgetting twice is the start of a new habit.

You don’t know the value of only showing up on bad (or good) days. Lost days hurt you more than successful days. If you start with 100€, a profit of 50 percent will bring you to 150€. However, you only need a 33 percent loss to get back to 100€. In other words, avoiding a 33 percent loss is just as valuable as making a 50 percent profit. As Charlie Munger says, „The first rule of compounding: Never disrupt something unnecessarily.“

That’s why the „bad“ workouts are often the most important. Slow days and bad workouts maintain the compound gains you’ve made from previous good days. Just doing something – ten squats, five sprints, one push-up, really anything – is huge. Don’t set a zero. Don’t let losses factor into your compounding.

Also, it’s not always about what happens during the workout. It’s about being the guy who doesn’t miss a workout. It’s easy to work out when you feel good, but it’s important to show up when you don’t feel like it – even if you’re doing less than you hoped. Going to the gym for five minutes may not improve your performance, but it will reaffirm your identity.

The secret to maximizing your chances of success is to pick the right competitive field. This is as true for habit change as it is for sports and business. Habits are easier to execute and more satisfying when they match your natural inclinations and abilities. Like Usian Bolt on the tartan track or Lewis Hamilton on the racetrack, you want to play a game where the odds are in your favor.

If you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different. By combining your skills, you reduce the level of competition, making it easier to stand out. You can shorten the need for genetic advantage (or years of practice) by rewriting the rules. A good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that favors his strengths and avoids his weaknesses.

„At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of daily practice, doing the same exercises over and over again.“

People talk about putting something on the line to work on their goals. Whether it’s business, sports or art, you hear people say things like, „It all comes down to passion.“ Or, „You have to really want it.“ As a result, many of us get depressed when we lose focus or motivation because we think successful people have a bottomless reserve of passion. But this coach said that truly successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that despite boredom, they still find a way to show up.

As Machiavelli noted, „People desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well desire change as much as those who are doing poorly.“

I can guarantee that if you manage to start a habit and stick with it, there will be days when you want to quit. If you’re starting a business, there will be days when you don’t feel like showing up. If you’re at the gym, there will be sets where you don’t feel like finishing. When it’s time to write, there will be days when you don’t feel like typing/writing. But when it’s annoying or painful or exhausting to do so, that’s what makes the difference between a pro and an amateur.

Pros stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work purposefully toward it. Amateurs get blown off course by life’s urgencies.

David Cain, author and meditation teacher, encourages his students not to be „fair-weather meditators.“ Likewise, you don’t want to be a fair-weather athlete, a fair-weather writer, or a fair-weather athlete. If a habit is really important to you, you have to be willing to stick to it in any mood. Professionals take action even when the mood isn’t right. You may not enjoy it, but you find a way to get the reps in.

There were many sets I didn’t want to finish, but I never regretted doing the workout. There were many articles I didn’t want to write, but I never regretted publishing them on time(almost always). There were many days I wanted to relax, but I never regretted showing up and working on something that was important to me.


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Atomic Habits by James Clear

Veröffentlicht von Maxm Md

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