Atomic Habits by James Clear is a self-help book that will teach you how you can build good habits and break the bad ones. The book is supremely practical and can help you shape your life as you desire. I read it a year ago and found some powerful lessons for self-improvement.
In this blog, I have shared the key lesson from the book that is the meaning of atomic habits and their importance. I have also shared my experience of how I implemented the lesson in my daily routine. So, let’s first understand atomic habits…
What are atomic habits?
We generally believe that our success will be massive only if we do something big, something huge, which will change everything. If we want to stay fit, we have to exercise for hours; if we’re going to be a reader, we have to read 50 pages.
If we are not doing these big things, then we are not on the right path. That’s how we usually think. Is it not?
We can’t be more wrong here. Exercising for hours is okay, but do you think you will be able to do it daily? Most probably not. When we start a habit, we are highly enthusiastic. But after a few days, all our enthusiasm vanishes, and we stop doing it. That’s the reason why there is so much crowd in the gym at the starting of a new year, but it’s almost empty during April-May.
We neglect the power of small changes, small actions, small habits. All big achievements and successes are the result of small or atomic habits done regularly. In the book, James Clear says that atomic habits are tiny practices that bring remarkable results when done for a long time.
It is always the tiny improvements that bring massive results over a period of time. If you do the math, it will be more clear.
Suppose you improve yourself by 1% every day. This small improvement may not seem significant at all, but when you calculate the effect over a year, you will find that you improve by 37 times. ( (1+0.01)^(365) = 37.78 ).
And, if you continue this for three years, you will improve by 54,000 times
( (1+0.01)^(365*3) = 53,939.17 ).
Can you imagine the power of small habits that brings tiny improvements?
Examples of atomic habits
The good thing about atomic habits is they are effortless and consume less time. Now, I will tell you some atomic habits I have been performing since the last year.
First of all, reading. I read at least ten pages every day, which was very easy. When I did this for 30 days, I completed 300 pages (an average book). At this pace, I could read one book a month and 12 books a year, which was far better than not reading at all. However, now I love reading, so I read more than ten pages.
2nd atomic habit I perform is exercising. In the morning, I work out for just 15 minutes- 15 push-ups, 15 sit-ups, and some exercises with dumbells. I do it every day, and this routine helps me be energetic and fresh throughout the day. It has been three months since I started this habit, and it’s going well.
3rd atomic habit I do is learning two words every day to improve vocabulary. I note down two new words with their meanings and uses in a sentence. Now, it seems useless, and you may think what will happen with just two words.
But if we do it for one year, it will be 730 words, and if we do it for five years, it will be 3650 words. This is huge compared to the time and effort it takes. Just 3 minutes every day, and you would be pro in English speaking and writing.
4th habit which I have started is fast typing. Since I love writing, I write blogs and write for clients, so this habit is essential. I practice fast-typing for 15 minutes every day. It has only been a week since I started this, so I haven’t got any visible results. But I am sure; if I continue this for one full year, I will be able to type without looking at the keyboard and at a faster rate.
So, the concept is you have to find out what atomic habits you need to achieve your goals and then do it regularly. If you want to lose weight, your atomic habit will be exercising for 15 minutes every day; if you want to be a reader, you have to read ten pages daily; if you want to be fluent in English, speak it for 15 minutes every day. You get the idea.
All of these will take little time and effort, but you will get massive results when you do it for a long time.
Related: The Power of Habit- 3 Key Lessons
Effect of bad habits
But, since these small good habits don’t produce any visible result in the present, we get discouraged and find it difficult to perform. They don’t give any rewards in the short run, so we lose our patience and stop doing it.
On the other hand, small bad habits are fun to do and cause no harm in the short run. Smoking, using social media, eating unhealthy foods are very entertaining, and we easily choose these over good habits.
But again, if you do the math, you will know how destructive these small bad habits can be over a year. Let’s say you get 1% worse every day because of bad habits.
If you calculate, this 1 % fall will make you decline nearly to zero.
( (1-0.01)^(365) = 0.025 )
I had a bad habit of using Instagram; I was addicted to it and spent at least 1-2 hours every day (This was the minimum). Now, this 1 hour was fun and didn’t seem to cause any harm when I did it. But, I calculated that if I wasted 1 hour every day, it would be 365 hours a year; that’s a considerable time. I can read around 15 books in 365 hours.
So, you have to avoid the small bad habits, which is fun, doesn’t seem to produce any harm in the short run but becomes destructive in the long run. And create small good habits that will have remarkable results over a year or so.
There are no alternatives; there are no shortcuts. This is the way to achieve big things in life, small habits done every day. Because small changes eventually add up to cause a significant change.
Why are atomic habits difficult to build?
James Clear gave an example of melting ice to explain why building habits can be difficult. You must have studied that the melting temperature of ice is 0 degrees Celsius.
So, imagine an ice cube kept at -30 degrees Celsius. What will happen? There will be no melting. Now you decrease the temperature to 25, there will be no melting, reduce the temp to 20, no change. Similarly, reduce to 15, 10, 5, and there will be no melting.
At this point, you would get frustrated; you are putting so much effort but getting no result at all. You would think that all your efforts are useless.
But if you just decrease by five more degrees, you would see the change. The same 5-degree decrease, which didn’t bring results earlier, would now give the results. No effort was useless, everything was stored, and all these combined to provide the results when it was the right time.
Similar is the case with atomic habits. Small changes may not seem to bring any result, but you will see massive results one day when you do it patiently. So, find some good atomic habits and do it regularly; you will be overwhelmed with the results after a few months or years.
This was the key lesson from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I hope you found it valuable. I have already made a video on the Power of habits by Charles Duhigg to explain how habits work and what they are made up of. The Atomic Habits uses the same concept to explain some of the most effective and practical ways for building habits. So, I suggest you read the book.
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