Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits

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~This page is still under construction~

Highlights

  • A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and, in many cases, automatically. (Location 144)
  • However, looking back on those years, I believe I accomplished something just as rare: I fulfilled my potential. (Location 154)
  • changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. (Location 157)
  • The entrepreneur and investor [[Naval Ravikant]] has said, “To write a great book, you must first become the book.” #Writing
  • The fields I draw on—biology, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and more—have been around for many years. What I offer you is a synthesis of the best ideas smart people figured out a long time ago as well as the most compelling discoveries scientists have made recently. (Location 190)
  • The backbone of this book is my four-step model of habits—cue, craving, response, and reward—and the four laws of behavior change that evolve out of these steps. Readers with a psychology background may recognize some of these terms from operant conditioning, which was first proposed as “stimulus, response, reward” by B. F. Skinner in the 1930s and has been popularized more recently as “cue, routine, reward” in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. (Location 193)
  • Brailsford had been hired to put British Cycling on a new trajectory. What made him different from previous coaches was his relentless commitment to a strategy that he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains,” which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. Brailsford said, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.” (Location 222)
    • Note: By small and simple things...
  • Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, winning a championship, or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. (Location 248)
  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent. (Location 261)
  • You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results. (Location 281)
  • 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. (Location 284)
  • Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy. (Location 289)
  • The San Antonio Spurs, one of the most successful teams in NBA history, have a quote from social reformer Jacob Riis hanging in their locker room: “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it—but all that had gone before.” (Location 336)
  • Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. (Location 359)
  • In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, “The score takes care of itself.” (Location 368)
  • If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. (Location 369)
  • Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. (Location 370)
  • Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers. (Location 375)
  • Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves. (Location 387)
  • When 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 satisfied anytime your system is running. (Location 395)
  • The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress. (Location 402)
    • Note: God is not as focused on the destination as he is the journey. “The destination will take care of itself.”
  • You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. (Location 407)
    • Note: [[Systems Thinking]]
  • Few things can have a more powerful impact on your life than improving your daily habits. (Location 426)
  • Habits like exercise, meditation, journaling, and cooking are reasonable for a day or two and then become a hassle. (Location 428)
  • With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become. (Location 453)
  • Imagine two people resisting a cigarette. When offered a smoke, the first person says, “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.” It sounds like a reasonable response, but this person still believes they are a smoker who is trying to be something else. They are hoping their behavior will change while carrying around the same beliefs. The second person declines by saying, “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.” It’s a small difference, but this statement signals a shift in identity. Smoking was part of their former life, not their current one. They no longer identify as someone who smokes. (Location 455)
  • Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs. The system of a democracy is founded on beliefs like freedom, majority rule, and social equality. The system of a dictatorship has a very different set of beliefs like absolute authority and strict obedience. (Location 463)
  • The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this. (Location 480)
  • Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are. (Location 488)
  • Your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity. What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe that you are—either consciously or nonconsciously.* (Location 491)
  • Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity. (Location 513)
  • I didn’t start out as a writer. I became one through my habits. (Location 529)
  • Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. (Location 539)
  • The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do. Each time you write a page, you are a writer. Each time you practice the violin, you are a musician. Each time you start a workout, you are an athlete. Each time you encourage your employees, you are a leader. (Location 543)
  • It is a simple two-step process: Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins. (Location 553)
  • Identity change is the North Star of habit change. (Location 573)
  • This is the feedback loop behind all human behavior: try, fail, learn, try differently. With practice, the useless movements fade away and the useful actions get reinforced. That’s a habit forming. (Location 622)
  • Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. In fact, the people who don’t have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom. Without good financial habits, you will always be struggling for the next dollar. Without good health habits, you will always seem to be short on energy. Without good learning habits, you will always feel like you’re behind the curve. If you’re always being forced to make decisions about simple tasks—when should I work out, where do I go to write, when do I pay the bills—then you have less time for freedom. It’s only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity. (Location 641)
  • All habits proceed through four stages in the same order: cue, craving, response, and reward. (Location 653)
  • First, there is the cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward. (Location 655)
  • Because the cue is the first indication that we’re close to a reward, it naturally leads to a craving. (Location 661)
  • Cravings are the second step, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire—without craving a change—we have no reason to act. (Location 662)
  • Cues are meaningless until they are interpreted. (Location 668)
  • The third step is the response. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. (Location 669)
  • Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us and (2) they teach us. (Location 674)
  • If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start. Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act. Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future. (Location 682)
  • How to Create a Good Habit The 1st law (Cue): Make it obvious. The 2nd law (Craving): Make it attractive. The 3rd law (Response): Make it easy. The 4th law (Reward): Make it satisfying. (Location 760)
  • How to Break a Bad Habit Inversion of the 1st law (Cue): Make it invisible. Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving): Make it unattractive. Inversion of the 3rd law (Response): Make it difficult. Inversion of the 4th law (Reward): Make it unsatisfying. (Location 765)
  • We underestimate how much our brains and bodies can do without thinking. You do not tell your hair to grow, your heart to pump, your lungs to breathe, or your stomach to digest. And yet your body handles all this and more on autopilot. You are much more than your conscious self. (Location 817)
  • Many of our failures in performance are largely attributable to a lack of self-awareness. One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing. (Location 858)
  • There are no good habits or bad habits. There are only effective habits. (Location 876)
  • If you’re still having trouble determining how to rate a particular habit, here is a question I like to use: “Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be? (Location 879)
  • Specifically, each member of the third group completed the following sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].” (Location 911)
  • But 91 percent of the third group exercised at least once per week—more than double the normal rate. (Location 914)
  • The sentence they filled out is what researchers refer to as an implementation intention, which is a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit. (Location 915)
  • When the moment of action occurs, there is no need to make a decision. Simply follow your predetermined plan. (Location 935)
  • The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. (Location 936)
  • As the writer Jason Zweig noted, “Obviously you’re never going to just work out without conscious thought. But like a dog salivating at a bell, maybe you start to get antsy around the time of day you normally work out.” (Location 948)
  • One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking. (Location 972)
  • Consider when you are most likely to be successful. Don’t ask yourself to do a habit when you’re likely to be occupied with something else. (Location 1013)
  • In this way, the most common form of change is not internal, but external: we are changed by the world around us. Every habit is context dependent. (Location 1064)
  • The truth, however, is that many of the actions we take each day are shaped not by purposeful drive and choice but by the most obvious option. (Location 1076)
  • The most powerful of all human sensory abilities, however, is vision. The human body has about eleven million sensory receptors. Approximately ten million of those are dedicated to sight. (Location 1084)
  • For this reason, a small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do. (Location 1087)
  • Here are a few ways you can redesign your environment and make the cues for your preferred habits more obvious: (Location 1109)
  • If you want to remember to send more thank-you notes, keep a stack of stationery on your desk. (Location 1112)
    • Note: Pre-design your process so you don’t have to think. You just slip right into it.
  • Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it. (Location 1122)
  • Over time, subjects began to associate the context of their bed with the action of sleeping, and it became easier to quickly fall asleep when they climbed in bed. Their brains learned that sleeping—not browsing on their phones, not watching television, not staring at the clock—was the only action that happened in that room. (Location 1136)
  • habits can be easier to change in a new environment. (Location 1138)
  • Go to a new place—a different coffee shop, a bench in the park, a corner of your room you seldom use—and create a new routine there. (Location 1139)
  • Create a separate space for work, study, exercise, entertainment, and cooking. The mantra I find useful is “One space, one use.” (Location 1149)
  • If your space is limited, divide your room into activity zones: a chair for reading, a desk for writing, a table for eating. You can do the same with your digital spaces. I know a writer who uses his computer only for writing, his tablet only for reading, and his phone only for social media and texting. Every habit should have a home. (Location 1161)
  • Robins found that when soldiers who had been heroin users returned home, only 5 percent of them became re-addicted within a year, and just 12 percent relapsed within three years. In other words, approximately nine out of ten soldiers who used heroin in Vietnam eliminated their addiction nearly overnight. (Location 1182)
    • Note: Connect to behavioral health clinics - Value Transitions
  • Typically, 90 percent of heroin users become re-addicted once they return home from rehab. (Location 1193)
  • The idea that a little bit of discipline would solve all our problems is deeply embedded in our culture. (Location 1196)
    • Note: Connect to the idea that self-control is a finite resource in Poor Economics maybe?
  • Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations. (Location 1198)
  • So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment. (Location 1201)
    • Note: Connect to the ideas from Duckworth on Grit; is this true for children? Should we avoid putting them in situations where they even have to avoid marshmallows?
  • Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. They foster the feelings they try to numb. (Location 1211)
  • Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one. You may be able to resist temptation once or twice, but it’s unlikely you can muster the willpower to override your desires every time. (Location 1232)
  • Instead of summoning a new dose of willpower whenever you want to do the right thing, your energy would be better spent optimizing your environment. (Location 1233)
  • As Stephan Guyenet, a neuroscientist who specializes in eating behavior and obesity, says, “We’ve gotten too good at pushing our own buttons.” (Location 1302)
    • Note: The greatest minds of our generation are figuring out how to get more people to click on an ad.
  • Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. Every behavior that is highly habit-forming—taking drugs, eating junk food, playing video games, browsing social media—is associated with higher levels of dopamine. The same can be said for our most basic habitual behaviors like eating food, drinking water, having sex, and interacting socially. (Location 1333)
    • Note: Connect to technology that augments us instead of distressed us
  • Desire is the engine that drives behavior. Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response. (Location 1362)
    • Note: Connect to quote about “you have to want the consequences of the things you want” - Nibley?
  • Laszlo Polgar (Location 1417)
  • “A genius is not born, but is educated and trained.” (Location 1419)
  • The childhood of the Polgar sisters was atypical, to say the least. And yet, if you ask them about it, they claim their lifestyle was attractive, even enjoyable. In interviews, the sisters talk about their childhood as entertaining rather than grueling. They loved playing chess. They couldn’t get enough of it. Once, Laszlo reportedly found Sofia playing chess in the bathroom in the middle of the night. Encouraging her to go back to sleep, he said, “Sofia, leave the pieces alone!” To which she replied, “Daddy, they won’t leave me alone!” (Location 1432)
  • whatever habits are normal in your culture are among the most attractive behaviors you’ll find. (Location 1437)
  • As Charles Darwin noted, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” (Location 1443)
  • We don’t choose our earliest habits, we imitate them. We follow the script handed down by our friends and family, our church or school, our local community and society at large. (Location 1445)
  • We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful. (Location 1455)
  • Similarly, one study found that the higher your best friend’s IQ at age eleven or twelve, the higher your IQ would be at age fifteen, even after controlling for natural levels of intelligence. (Location 1472)
  • We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us. (Location 1473)
  • The normal behavior of the tribe often overpowers the desired behavior of the individual. For example, one study found that when a chimpanzee learns an effective way to crack nuts open as a member of one group and then switches to a new group that uses a less effective strategy, it will avoid using the superior nut cracking method just to blend in with the rest of the chimps. (Location 1515)
    • Note: Connect to investing 101 2.0 quotes about needing to do things differently
  • The reward of being accepted is often greater than the reward of winning an argument, looking smart, or finding truth. Most days, we’d rather be wrong with the crowd than be right by ourselves. (Location 1518)
    • Note: Contrarianism.
  • One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group. (Location 1545)
  • Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires. New versions of old vices. (Location 1588)
  • As the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio explains, “It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad, or indifferent.” (Location 1618)
  • Reframing your habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive. (Location 1633)
  • Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on. Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image. At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.* (Location 1703)
  • As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.” (Location 1714)
  • Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome. If I outline twenty ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually sit down and write an article, that’s action. If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action. (Location 1717)
  • If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. (Location 1730)
  • Energy is precious, and the brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible. It is human nature to follow the Law of Least Effort, which states that when deciding between two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.* (Location 1811)
  • Habits like scrolling on our phones, checking email, and watching television steal so much of our time because they can be performed almost without effort. They are remarkably convenient. (Location 1821)
    • Note: Technology that augments instead of distracts
  • The idea behind make it easy is not to only do easy things. The idea is to make it as easy as possible in the moment to do things that payoff in the long run. (Location 1831)
  • In an article published in the New Yorker titled “Better All the Time,” James Suroweicki writes: “Japanese firms emphasized what came to be known as ‘lean production,’ relentlessly looking to remove waste of all kinds from the production process, down to redesigning workspaces, so workers didn’t have to waste time twisting and turning to reach their tools. The result was that Japanese factories were more efficient and Japanese products were more reliable than American ones. In 1974, service calls for American-made color televisions were five times as common as for Japanese televisions. By 1979, it took American workers three times as long to assemble their sets.” (Location 1848)
  • Whenever possible, I leave my phone in a different room until lunch. When it’s right next to me, I’ll check it all morning for no reason at all. But when it is in another room, I rarely think about it. And the friction is high enough that I won’t go get it without a reason. As a result, I get three to four hours each morning when I can work without interruption. (Location 1898)
  • Redesign your life so the actions that matter most are also the actions that are easiest to do. (Location 1908)
  • Every day, there are a handful of moments that deliver an outsized impact. I refer to these little choices as decisive moments. (Location 1938)
  • But the point is not to do one thing. The point is to master the habit of showing up. The truth is, a habit must be established before it can be improved. (Location 1985)
  • Whenever I’m looking to cut calories, for example, I will ask the waiter to split my meal and box half of it to go before the meal is served. If I waited until the meal came out and told myself “I’ll just eat half,” it would never work. (Location 2069)
  • The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impractical to do. Increase the friction until you don’t even have the option to act. (Location 2090)
  • As mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.” (Location 2127)
  • Technology creates a level of convenience that enables you to act on your smallest whims and desires. (Location 2131)
    • Note: Technology that augments rather than distracts
  • Stories like these are evidence of the Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided. (Location 2240)
  • The French economist FrĂ©dĂ©ric Bastiat explained the problem clearly when he wrote, “It almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. . . . Often, the sweeter the first fruit of a habit, the more bitter are its later fruits.” (Location 2275)
  • Our preference for instant gratification reveals an important truth about success: because of how we are wired, most people will spend all day chasing quick hits of satisfaction. The road less traveled is the road of delayed gratification. If you’re willing to wait for the rewards, you’ll face less competition and often get a bigger payoff. As the saying goes, the last mile is always the least crowded. (Location 2287)
    • Note: Self-control is a finite resource.
  • Dyrsmid began each morning with two jars on his desk. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. As soon as he settled in each day, he would make a sales call. Immediately after, he would move one paper clip from the full jar to the empty jar and the process would begin again. “Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar,” he told me. Within eighteen months, Dyrsmid was bringing in $5 million to the firm. By age twenty-four, he was making $75,000 per year—the equivalent of $125,000 today. Not long after, he landed a six-figure job with another company. I like to refer to this technique as the Paper Clip Strategy and, over the years, I’ve heard from readers who have employed it in a variety of ways. One woman shifted a hairpin from one container to another whenever she wrote a page of her book. Another man moved a marble from one bin to the next after each set of push-ups. (Location 2345)
  • Countless people have tracked their habits, but perhaps the most famous was Benjamin Franklin. Beginning at age twenty, Franklin carried a small booklet everywhere he went and used it to track thirteen personal virtues. This list included goals like “Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful” and “Avoid trifling conversation.” At the end of each day, Franklin would open his booklet and record his progress. (Location 2360)
  • Jerry Seinfeld reportedly uses a habit tracker to stick with his streak of writing jokes. In the documentary Comedian, he explains that his goal is simply to “never break the chain” of writing jokes every day. In other words, he is not focused on how good or bad a particular joke is or how inspired he feels. He is simply focused on showing up and adding to his streak. (Location 2363)
  • The first mistake is never the one 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. (Location 2423)
  • This is a distinguishing feature between winners and losers. Anyone can have a bad performance, a bad workout, or a bad day at work. But when successful people fail, they rebound quickly. (Location 2424)
  • The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all. (Location 2428)
  • As Charlie Munger says, “The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.” (Location 2431)
  • The dark side of tracking a particular behavior is that we become driven by the number rather than the purpose behind it. If your success is measured by quarterly earnings, you will optimize sales, revenue, and accounting for quarterly earnings. If your success is measured by a lower number on the scale, you will optimize for a lower number on the scale, even if that means embracing crash diets, juice cleanses, and fat-loss pills. The human mind wants to “win” whatever game is being played. (Location 2445)
    • Note: You get what you measure
  • In short, we optimize for what we measure. When we choose the wrong measurement, we get the wrong behavior. (Location 2451)
  • When the consequences are severe, people learn quickly. (Location 2491)
  • There is, of course, a limit to this. If you’re going to rely on punishment to change behavior, then the strength of the punishment must match the relative strength of the behavior it is trying to correct. (Location 2498)
  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. This is just as true with habit change as it is with sports and business. Habits are easier to perform, and more satisfying to stick with, when they align with your natural inclinations and abilities. Like Michael Phelps in the pool or Hicham El Guerrouj on the track, you want to play a game where the odds are in your favor. (Location 2617)
  • As physician Gabor Mate notes, “Genes can predispose, but they don’t predetermine.” The areas where you are genetically predisposed to success are the areas where habits are more likely to be satisfying. (Location 2631)
  • Genes have been shown to influence everything from the number of hours you spend watching television to your likelihood to marry or divorce to your tendency to get addicted to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. (Location 2638)
  • The most proven scientific analysis of personality traits is known as the “Big Five,” which breaks them down into five spectrums of behavior. Openness to experience: from curious and inventive on one end to cautious and consistent on the other. Conscientiousness: organized and efficient to easygoing and spontaneous. Extroversion: outgoing and energetic to solitary and reserved (you likely know them as extroverts vs. introverts). Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate to challenging and detached. Neuroticism: anxious and sensitive to confident, calm, and stable. (Location 2644)
  • The most common approach is trial and error. Of course, there’s a problem with this strategy: life is short. You don’t have time to try every career, date every eligible bachelor, or play every musical instrument. Thankfully, there is an effective way to manage this conundrum, and it is known as the explore/exploit trade-off. (Location 2684)
  • In the beginning of a new activity, there should be a period of exploration. In relationships, it’s called dating. In college, it’s called the liberal arts. In business, it’s called split testing. The goal is to try out many possibilities, research a broad range of ideas, and cast a wide net. (Location 2687)
  • If you are currently winning, you exploit, exploit, exploit. If you are currently losing, you continue to explore, explore, explore. (Location 2690)
  • What feels like fun to me, but work to others? The mark of whether you are made for a task is not whether you love it but whether you can handle the pain of the task easier than most people. When are you enjoying yourself while other people are complaining? The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you were made to do. (Location 2699)
    • Note: The lily pads of your career; what gives you energy? What takes it away?
  • What makes me lose track of time? Flow is the mental state you enter when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away. This blend of happiness and peak performance is what athletes and performers experience when they are “in the zone.” It is nearly impossible to experience a flow state and not find the task satisfying at least to some degree. (Location 2702)
  • Where do I get greater returns than the average person? We are continually comparing ourselves to those around us, and a behavior is more likely to be satisfying when the comparison is in our favor. When I started writing at jamesclear.com, my email list grew very quickly. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing well, but I knew that results seemed to be coming faster for me than for some of my colleagues, which motivated me to keep writing. (Location 2706)
  • What comes naturally to me? For just a moment, ignore what you have been taught. Ignore what society has told you. Ignore what others expect of you. Look inside yourself and ask, “What feels natural to me? When have I felt alive? When have I felt like the real me?” No internal judgments or people-pleasing. No second-guessing or self-criticism. Just feelings of engagement and enjoyment. Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction. (Location 2710)
  • If you can’t find a game where the odds are stacked in your favor, create one. Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, says, “Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.” (Location 2716)
  • A good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that favors their strengths and avoids their weaknesses. (Location 2723)
  • Our genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on. Once we realize our strengths, we know where to spend our time and energy. We know which types of opportunities to look for and which types of challenges to avoid. The better we understand our nature, the better our strategy can be. (Location 2735)
  • Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck. (Location 2743)
  • It is hard to imagine a situation that would strike fear into the hearts of more people than performing alone on stage and failing to get a single laugh. And yet Steve Martin faced this fear every week for eighteen years. In his words, “10 years spent learning, 4 years spent refining, and 4 years as a wild success.” (Location 2770)
  • The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right. (Location 2782)
  • “What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else?” I asked. “What do the really successful people do that most don’t?” He mentioned the factors you might expect: genetics, luck, talent. But then he said something I wasn’t expecting: “At some point it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.” (Location 2805)
  • Mastery requires practice. But the more you practice something, the more boring and routine it becomes. Once the beginner gains have been made and we learn what to expect, our interest starts to fade. (Location 2813)
    • Note: Beginners mindset.
  • As Machiavelli noted, “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.” (Location 2820)
  • Variable rewards or not, no habit will stay interesting forever. At some point, everyone faces the same challenge on the journey of self-improvement: you have to fall in love with boredom. (Location 2835)
  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work toward it with purpose; amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life. (Location 2842)
  • Habits are necessary, but not sufficient for mastery. What you need is a combination of automatic habits and deliberate practice. (Location 2874)
  • The following year, Pat Riley led his team to another title as the Lakers became the first team in twenty years to win back-to-back NBA championships. Afterward, he said, “Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, then do them the same way every time.” (Location 2924)
  • Reflection and review enables the long-term improvement of all habits because it makes you aware of your mistakes and helps you consider possible paths for improvement. (Location 2928)
  • I know of executives and investors who keep a “decision journal” in which they record the major decisions they make each week, why they made them, and what they expect the outcome to be. They review their choices at the end of each month or year to see where they were correct and where they went wrong.* (Location 2938)
  • Personally, I employ two primary modes of reflection and review. Each December, I perform an Annual Review, in which I reflect on the previous year. I tally my habits for the year by counting up how many articles I published, how many workouts I put in, how many new places I visited, and more.* Then, I reflect on my progress (or lack thereof) by answering three questions: What went well this year? What didn’t go so well this year? What did I learn? (Location 2943)
  • Six months later, when summer rolls around, I conduct an Integrity Report. Like everyone, I make a lot of mistakes. My Integrity Report helps me realize where I went wrong and motivates me to get back on course. I use it as a time to revisit my core values and consider whether I have been living in accordance with them. This is when I reflect on my identity and how I can work toward being the type of person I wish to become.* My yearly Integrity Report answers 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 in the future? (Location 2949)
  • 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. You see this in every industry. The schoolteacher who ignores innovative teaching methods and sticks with her tried-and-true lesson plans. The veteran manager who is committed to doing things “his way.” The surgeon who dismisses the ideas of her younger colleagues. The band who produces a mind-blowing first album and then gets stuck in a rut. The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it. (Location 2970)
    • Note: Connect to disagreement quote with Charles Darwin
  • One solution is to avoid making any single aspect of your identity an overwhelming portion of who you are. In the words of investor Paul Graham, “keep your identity small.” The more you let a single belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you. If you tie everything up in being the point guard or the partner at the firm or whatever else, then the loss of that facet of your life will wreck you. (Location 2973)
  • When you cling too tightly to one identity, you become brittle. Lose that one thing and you lose yourself. (Location 2978)
  • When chosen effectively, an identity can be flexible rather than brittle. Like water flowing around an obstacle, your identity works with the changing circumstances rather than against them. (Location 2988)
  • The following quote from the Tao Te Ching encapsulates the ideas perfectly: Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. —LAO TZU (Location 2989)
  • Sorites Paradox,* which talks about the effect one small action can have when repeated enough times. One formulation of the paradox goes as follows: Can one coin make a person rich? If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you wouldn’t claim that he or she is rich. But what if you add another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him or her so. We can say the same about atomic habits. Can one tiny change transform your life? It’s unlikely you would say so. But what if you made another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that your life was transformed by one small change. (Location 3006)
  • Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine. (Location 3022)
  • The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop. (Location 3041)
    • Note: Connect to munger quote on compounding; don’t interrupt compounding unnecessarily
  • Small habits don’t add up. They compound. (Location 3045)
  • As Caed Budris says, “Happiness is the space between one desire being fulfilled and a new desire forming.” (Location 3072)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher and poet, famously wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” (Location 3081)
  • Being smart will never deliver results on its own because it doesn’t get you to act. It is desire, not intelligence, that prompts behavior. (Location 3086)
  • As Naval Ravikant says, “The trick to doing anything is first cultivating a desire for it.” (Location 3087)
  • This is the wisdom behind Seneca’s famous quote, “Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more.” (Location 3118)
  • You can download this chapter at: atomichabits.com/business (Location 3145)
  • You can download this chapter at: atomichabits.com/parenting (Location 3152)
  • You can see my previous Annual Reviews at jamesclear.com/annual-review. (Location 4547)