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You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results. 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. Are you spending less than you earn each month?
Are you making it into the gym each week? Are you reading books and learning something new each day? Tiny battles like these are the ones that will define your future self. 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. Habits are a double-edged sword. Bad habits can cut you down just as easily as good habits can build you up, which is why understanding the details is crucial.
You need to know how habits work and how to design them to your liking, so you can avoid the dangerous half of the blade. Accomplishing one extra task is a small feat on any given day, but it counts for a lot over an entire career.
The effect of automating an old task or mastering a new skill can be even greater. The more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas. Knowledge compounds. Furthermore, each book you read not only teaches you something new but also opens up different ways of thinking about old ideas. It builds up, like compound interest. People reflect your behavior back to you. The more you help others, the more others want to help you.
Being a little bit nicer in each interaction can result in a network of broad and strong connections over time. Negative Compounding Stress compounds.
The frustration of a traffic jam. The weight of parenting responsibilities. The worry of making ends meet. The strain of slightly high blood pressure. By themselves, these common causes of stress are manageable. But when they persist for years, little stresses compound into serious health issues.
Negative thoughts compound. The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish, you see those kind of people everywhere.
Outrage compounds. Riots, protests, and mass movements are rarely the result of a single event. Instead, a long series of microaggressions and daily aggravations slowly multiply until one event tips the scales and outrage spreads like wildfire. The room is cold and you can see your breath. It is currently twenty- five degrees.
Ever so slowly, the room begins to heat up. Twenty-six degrees. The ice cube is still sitting on the table in front of you. Twenty-nine degrees. Still, nothing has happened. Then, thirty-two degrees. The ice begins to melt.
A one-degree shift, seemingly no different from the temperature increases before it, has unlocked a huge change. Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change. This pattern shows up everywhere. Cancer spends 80 percent of its life undetectable, then takes over the body in months.
Bamboo can barely be seen for the first five years as it builds extensive root systems underground before exploding ninety feet into the air within six weeks. Similarly, habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. In the early and middle stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment.
This is one of the core reasons why it is so hard to build habits that last. People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau—what I call the Plateau of Latent Potential.
If you find yourself struggling to build a good habit or break a bad one, it is not because you have lost your ability to improve. It is often because you have not yet crossed the Plateau of Latent Potential. Complaining about not achieving success despite working hard is like complaining about an ice cube not melting when you heated it from twenty-five to thirty-one degrees. Your work was not wasted; it is just being stored. All the action happens at thirty-two degrees.
When you finally break through the Plateau of Latent Potential, people will call it an overnight success. The outside world only sees the most dramatic event rather than all that preceded it. It is the human equivalent of geological pressure. Two tectonic plates can grind against one another for millions of years, the tension slowly building all the while. Then, one day, they rub each other once again, in the same fashion they have for ages, but this time the tension is too great. An earthquake erupts.
Change can take years—before it happens all at once. Mastery requires patience. 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. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly.
In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done.
However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed. All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.
But what determines whether we stick with a habit long enough to survive the Plateau of Latent Potential and break through to the other side? What is it that causes some people to slide into unwanted habits and enables others to enjoy the compounding effects of good ones? For many years, this was how I approached my habits, too. Each one was a goal to be reached.
I set goals for the grades I wanted to get in school, for the weights I wanted to lift in the gym, for the profits I wanted to earn in business. I succeeded at a few, but I failed at a lot of them.
Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed. Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. Your system is the way you recruit players, manage your assistant coaches, and conduct practice.
Your system is how you test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns. Your system is how often you practice, how you break down and tackle difficult measures, and your method for receiving feedback from your instructor.
Now for the interesting question: If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still succeed? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results? I think you would. 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 each day. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. What do I mean by this? Are goals completely useless? Of course not. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.
Problem 1: Winners and losers have the same goals. Goal setting suffers from a serious case of survivorship bias. 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.
Presumably, they had wanted to win the race every year before—just like every other professional team. The goal had always been there. It was only when they implemented a system of continuous small improvements that they achieved a different outcome. Problem 2: Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.
Imagine you have a messy room and you set a goal to clean it. If you summon the energy to tidy up, then you will have a clean room—for now. You treated a symptom without addressing the cause. Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily.
In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves. Problem 3: Goals restrict your happiness.
For years, happiness was always something for my future self to enjoy. I promised myself that once I gained twenty pounds of muscle or after my business was featured in the New York Times, then I could finally relax.
You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness. This is misguided. It is unlikely that your actual path through life will match the exact journey you had in mind when you set out.
It makes no sense to restrict your satisfaction to one scenario when there are many paths to success. A systems-first mentality provides the antidote. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision. Problem 4: Goals are at odds with long-term progress. Many runners work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop training.
The race is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.
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 is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress. The problem is your system. You do not rise to the level of your goals.
You fall to the level of your systems. Focusing on the overall system, rather than a single goal, is one of the core themes of this book. It is also one of the deeper meanings behind the word atomic. But atomic habits are not just any old habits, however small. They are little habits that are part of a larger system.
Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results. Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement. At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon they build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment.
They are both small and mighty. This is the meaning of the phrase atomic habits—a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.
Chapter Summary Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run. They can work for you or against you, which is why understanding the details is essential. Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed.
You need to be patient. An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Few things can have a more powerful impact on your life than improving your daily habits. It often feels difficult to keep good habits going for more than a few days, even with sincere effort and the occasional burst of motivation. Habits like exercise, meditation, journaling, and cooking are reasonable for a day or two and then become a hassle.
However, once your habits are established, they seem to stick around forever—especially the unwanted ones. Despite our best intentions, unhealthy habits like eating junk food, watching too much television, procrastinating, and smoking can feel impossible to break.
Changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: 1 we try to Heal My Heart - Austin Young Band - Not So Simple (CD the wrong thing and 2 we try to change our habits in the wrong way. Our first mistake is that we try to change the wrong thing. To understand what I mean, consider that there are three levels at which change can occur. You can imagine them like the layers of an onion.
The first layer is changing your outcomes. This level is concerned with changing your results: losing weight, publishing a book, winning a championship. Most of the goals you set are associated with this level of change.
The second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems: implementing a new routine at the gym, decluttering your desk for better workflow, developing a meditation practice. Most of the habits you build are associated with this level. The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs: your worldview, your self-image, your judgments about yourself and others.
Most of the beliefs, assumptions, and biases you hold are associated with this level. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.
All levels of change are useful in their own way. The problem is the direction of change. Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve.
This leads us to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become. Imagine two people resisting a cigarette. They are hoping their behavior will change while carrying around the same beliefs. Smoking was part of their former life, not their current one.
They no longer identify as someone who smokes. 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. You can imagine many ways to try to get more people to vote in a democracy, but such behavior change would never get off the ground in a dictatorship. Voting is a behavior that is impossible under a certain set of beliefs.
A similar pattern exists whether we are discussing individuals, organizations, or societies. There are a set of beliefs and assumptions that shape the system, an identity behind the habits. Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last. The story of Brian Clark, an entrepreneur from Boulder, Colorado, provides a good example.
Heal My Heart - Austin Young Band - Not So Simple (CD day, I resolved to stop chewing my nails until they grew out a bit. Through mindful willpower alone, I managed to do it. And it worked, but not for the monetary reason. What happened was the manicure made my fingers look really nice for the first time. The manicurist even said that—other than the chewing—I had really healthy, attractive nails.
Suddenly, I was proud of my fingernails. The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it. True behavior change is identity change. Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are. The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.
The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician. 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. Doing the right thing is easy. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be. Like all aspects of habit formation, this, too, is a double-edged sword.
When working for you, identity change can be a powerful force for self-improvement. When working Album) you, though, identity change can be a curse. Once you have adopted an identity, it can be easy to let your allegiance to it impact your ability to change.
Many people walk through life in a cognitive slumber, blindly following the norms attached to their identity. When you have repeated a story to yourself for years, it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact. You find whatever way you can to avoid contradicting yourself. The more deeply a thought or action is tied to your identity, the more difficult it is to change it.
The biggest barrier to positive change at any level—individual, team, society—is identity conflict. Good habits can make rational sense, but if they conflict with your identity, you will fail to put them into action. Over the long run, however, the real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way. Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
This brings us to an important question: If your beliefs and worldview play such an important role in your behavior, where do they come from in the first place? How, exactly, is your identity formed? And how can you emphasize new aspects of your identity that serve you and gradually erase the pieces that hinder you?
You are not born with preset beliefs. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience.
When you make your bed each day, you embody the identity of an organized 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.
The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior. In fact, the word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. If you go to church every Sunday for twenty years, you have evidence that you are religious. If you study biology for one hour every night, you have evidence that you are studious.
The more evidence you have for a belief, the more strongly you will believe it. If you were to ask any of my high school teachers or college professors, they would tell you I was an average writer at best: certainly not a standout.
When I began my writing career, I published a new article every Monday and Thursday for the first few years. As the evidence grew, so did my identity as a writer. I became one through my habits. Of course, your habits are not the only actions that influence your identity, but by virtue of their frequency they are usually the most important ones. As you repeat these actions, however, the evidence accumulates and your self- image begins to change.
The effect of one-off experiences tends to fade away while the effect of habits gets reinforced with time, which means your habits contribute most of the evidence that shapes your identity. In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.
This is a gradual evolution. We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes exercise.
If you practice playing the guitar, perhaps you are the type of person who likes music. 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.
This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it actually is big. Putting this all together, you can see that habits are the path to changing your identity.
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.
Each habit not only gets results but also teaches you something far more important: to trust yourself. You start to believe you can actually accomplish these things. When the votes mount up and the evidence begins to change, the story you tell yourself begins to change as well. Of course, it works the opposite way, too. In any election, there are going to be votes for both sides.
Your goal is simply to win the majority of the time. New identities require new evidence. If nothing changes, nothing is going to change. It is a simple two-step process: 1. Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins. First, decide who you want to be.
This holds at any level—as an individual, as a team, as a community, as a nation. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become? Start there and work backward from the results you want to the type of person who could get those results. Who is the type of person that could learn a new language? Who is the type of person that could run a successful start-up? Now your focus shifts from writing a book outcome-based to being the type of person who is consistent and reliable identity-based.
Would a healthy person walk or take a cab? Would a healthy person order a burrito or a salad? She figured if she acted like a healthy person long enough, eventually she would become that person. She was right. The concept of identity-based habits is our first introduction to another key theme in this book: feedback loops. Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting Album) particular outcome.
The remainder of this book will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to build better habits in yourself, your family, your team, your company, and anywhere else you wish. You need to know who you want to be. Otherwise, your quest for change is like a boat without a rudder. You have the power to change your beliefs about yourself.
Your identity is not set in stone. You have a choice in every moment. You can choose the identity you want to reinforce today with the habits you choose today. And this brings us to the deeper purpose of this book and the real reason habits matter. Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone. Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be.
They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits. Chapter Summary There are three levels of change: outcome change, process change, and identity change. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become. Your identity emerges out of your habits.
Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results although they can do thatbut because they can change your beliefs about yourself.
Thorndike was interested in studying the behavior of animals, and he Heal My Heart - Austin Young Band - Not So Simple (CD by working with cats. He would place each cat inside a device known as a puzzle box. Once the door had been opened, the cat could dart out and run over to a bowl of food. Most cats wanted to escape as soon as they were placed inside the box.
They would poke their nose into the corners, stick their paws through openings, and claw at loose objects. After a few minutes of exploration, the cats would happen to press the magical lever, the door would open, and they would escape. Thorndike tracked the behavior of each cat across many trials. In the beginning, the animals moved around the box at random. But as soon as the lever had been pressed and the door opened, the process of learning began. Gradually, each cat learned to associate the action of pressing the lever with the reward of escaping the box and getting to the food.
After twenty to thirty trials, this behavior became so automatic and habitual that the cat could escape within a few seconds. Retrieved August 12, Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 7, CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 27, July 14, Archived from the original on September 3, Retrieved July 15, BBC News. April 10, Retrieved September 7, The Guardian. April 8, Retrieved March 8, December 19, Retrieved December 29, Daily News. The Stage. Really Useful Group. Time Magazine.
London Box Office. January 14, Retrieved January 16, August 30, Retrieved November 21, August 4, Retrieved August 4, Films directed by Richard Linklater. School of Rock. School of Rock Film soundtrack. Nickelodeon Movies. Untitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated film Hidden categories: Articles with short description Short description is different from Wikidata Use mdy dates from November Template film date with 1 release date Metacritic ID same as Wikidata.
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