Everyone wants to create good habits and get rid of bad habits, but that’s easier said than done. Most of the time you are able to do them for a couple of days, but then you forget or skip a day or two and, suddenly you’re back where you started. Like every other person, I have a couple of good habits and a few bad ones. I always want to improve the way I go about my day and make sure I can make the most of it. During the past few weeks I’ve read Atomic habits by James Clear and these are the 4 lessons I learned:
1. Your new habits should become part of your identity
Your current habits are a reflection of your current identity. If you see yourself as a chaotic person, your habits will reflect that. And if you see yourself as an athletic person, your habits will also reflect that. If you want to set habits that last a lifetime, you have to see yourself as a person who has that habit. So let’s say you want to read every day, see yourself as a reader. If you want to run a marathon, see yourself as a runner.
While I was thinking about my already established habits, I noticed that already do this. I see myself as a reader and I set goals for myself, like doing certain reading challenges during the year. But it is actually because I see myself as someone who likes to read, that I find it easier to actually read. When I have some spare time, I easily without thinking too much about it grab a book and start reading. This habit is a part of my identity.
2. Focus on methods, not goals
When you focus on your goals, you’ll stop the habit when you’ve reached them. But if you focus on the method, the habit will stick, because it is always evolving and improving. Your goal could be to read 30 books this year, your method could then be how long you read and when you read. By focusing on the method, you are creating a long-lasting habit and not just a one time goal.
3. Stack your habits to create a routine
One of the methods James Clear talks about is Habit Stacking. I already did this, but reading more about it, made it even more clear to me why this is such a good method. With habit stacking, you link a new habit to a habit you’ve already mastered. Your already existing habit is the cue for your new habit. This will make it a lot easier to actually follow true with your new habits. I do this during my morning routine. I journal for 10 minutes, then I eat breakfast, after that I read for 20 minutes, and then I work out or do yoga for 30 minutes.
4. Strive for progress, not perfection
In Atomic Habits, James Clears says: “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”. And that is true. You don’t need to be perfect at your habit from the start. If you focus on getting 1% better every day, at the end of the year you will have made a lot of progress. This is something a lot of people forget. We like to see results right away, but some things take time. With creating new habits, it’s the same. You might want to start journaling, but that doesn’t mean you are ready for a 30-minute session or free from writing. Maybe you are better off starting with a 5-minute journal that has a set format.
Atomic Habits is an interesting book for anyone who wants to set good habits, break bad ones or improve their habit methods. I already have a solid habit method set in place, but still learned a lot.
Have you read Atomic Habits?
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