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Atomic Habits, James Clear

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."

 

"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. In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, "The score takes care of itself." The same is true for other areas of life. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead."


p. 24



"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. Research has shown that once a person believes in a particular aspect of their identity, they are more likely to act in alignment with that belief. For example, people who identified as "being a voter" were more likely to vote than those who simply claimed "voting" was an action they wanted to perform. Similarly, the person who incorporates exercise into their identity doesn't have to convince themselves to train. Doing the right thing is easy. After all, when your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be."


p. 34



"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."


p. 46



"Habits like "read more" or "eat better" are worthy causes, but these goals do not provide instruction on how and when to act. Be specific and clear: After I close the door. After I brush my teeth. After I sit down at the table. The specificity is important. The more tightly bound your new habit is to a specific cue, the better the odds are that you will notice when the time comes to act."


p. 78



"Environment design is powerful not only because it influences how we engage with the world but also because we rarely do it. Most people live in a world others have created for them. But you can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones. Environment design allows you to take back control and become the architect of your life. Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it."


p. 87



"Recent research, however, shows something different. When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren't all that different from those who are struggling. 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."


p. 92



"Of course, peer pressure is bad only if you're surrounded by bad influences. When astronaut Mike Massimino was a graduate student at MIT, he took a small robotics class. Of the ten people in the class, four became astronauts. If your goal was to make it into space, then that room was about the best culture you could ask for. 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. We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us."


p. 117



"Similar strategies have been used effectively by governments. When the British government wanted to increase tax collection rates, they switched from sending citizens to a web page where the tax form could be downloaded to linking directly to the form. Reducing that one step in the process increased the response rate from 19.2 percent to 23.4 percent. For a country like the United Kingdom, those percentage points represent millions in tax revenue."


p. 155



"We rarely think about change this way because everyone is consumed by the end goal. But one push-up is better than not exercising. One minute of guitar practice is better than none at all. One minute of reading is better than never picking up a book. It's better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all."


p. 165



"Making progress is satisfying, and visual measures--like moving paper clips or hairpins or marbles--provide clear evidence of your progress. As a result, they reinforce your behavior and add a little bit of immediate satisfaction to any activity. Visual measurement comes in many forms: food journals, workout logs, loyalty punch cards, the progress bar on a software download, even the page numbers in a book. But perhaps the best to way measure your progress is with a habit tracker."


p. 196



"This is why the "bad" workouts are often the most important ones. Sluggish days and bad workouts maintain the compound gains you accrued from previous good days. Simply doing something--ten squats, five sprints, a push-up, anything really--is huge. Don't put up a zero. Don't let losses eat into your compounding."


p. 201



"This is sometimes referred to as Goodhart's Law. Named after the economist Charles Goodhart, the principle states, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." Measurement is only useful when it guides you and adds context to a larger picture, not when it consumes you. Each number is simply one piece of feedback in the overall system."


p. 203

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