In my recent surfing of the World Wide Web, I’ve come across several posts and videos with positive reviews of Atomic Habits by James Clear.
I’ve taken up a few new habits recently and considered a few others. I’ve not been too successful at getting some of the new habits moving, so I thought I’d give the book a re-listen. I did this on my regular daily walk whilst I listen to a book or podcast. See what I did there!
The book is excellent. It provides very practical, actionable advice in bite-size chapters with summaries. As opposed to many self-help books that repeat one idea for 200 plus pages.
Motion or Action
One of the points in the book is – is what you are doing – motion or action?
It’s become clear to me that I like the motion aspect of habits. Motion is developing a running training plan and thinking about the different sessions you’re going to do. Action is opening the door and going running. Motion is writing a list of blog post ideas I have. Action is sitting down and writing them.
Motion makes you feel like you’re getting things done, but really you’re just preparing to get something done. You are planning, not practicing.
This ties into another part of the book that talks about anticipation and that the anticipation of something feels better than actually doing (or getting) the thing. I like the thought of running (and most probably running fast) and of writing and publishing posts.
This can also manifest itself as looking for the best way to do something, but not taking action. Researching, buying things, listening to a 5 and a half hour book about “An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”. Just knowing you do this is a good thing.
I have spoken about this before, but it jumped out at me again.
To take a few quotes from the book –
“The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviours are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously)”.
“More precisely, your habits are how you embody your identity. When you make your bed each day, you embody the identity of an organised person. When you write each day, you embody the identity of a creative person. When you train each day, you embody the identity of an athletic person”.
I feel this is one of the most powerful takeaways from the book. Although it’s a quick change in mindset, just deciding on the type of person you want to be is not it, you have to prove it to yourself with small wins. Going for a run, writing a post, tidying up.
As lockdown starts to open up, joining a group where the desired behaviour is the normal behaviour is incredibly helpful. This makes it hard to behave otherwise. I find this very influential in regards to my running and maintaining it. The group also creates affirmation, approval and provides encouragement that makes your habits even stronger.
Re-listening to the book was a good idea, which I thoroughly enjoyed and got a lot of benefit from. I highly recommend the audio version of the book, which is read by the author and brings a more personal element to the subject.