It’s election day but you’ll be the only citizen voting – To cast a ballot you must do something that would be in favor of the identity you wish to obtain, but you won’t know or see who wins out immediately as the results will be delayed. Multiple ballots will be cast, and sometimes you will find yourself voting for the opposition party, but it won’t matter as long as your favoured party has the majority vote.
James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’ decries the various enemies of establishing and maintaining habits and true to the title of his book, reveals why we should not dismiss the power of compounding one percent.
Being curious is better than being smart
Sometimes, people get too comfortable with their abilities which leaves to growth becoming stagnant. The sentiment that you’re intelligent and would not suffer if you neglect to learn and pursue experiences directly translates to a lack of action. It promotes the concept that there is no capacity for self-betterment and in long term this mindset will make time an enemy as you’ll ultimately lag dramatically behind the version of yourself that could have manifested had you input the effort on a consistent basis; no matter how trivial or insignificant it may seem when considered as an individual component. Curiosity encourages us to act. The desire to know and understand initiates movement. To ensure that we don’t allow our personal biases to deter personal growth, we must actively monitor our thoughts and beliefs.
Identity change is the North Star of habit
People who succeed and those who don’t make the same goals: to eat healthier or lose weight, create a side hustle, or learn a new language, so why do some of us fail after a couple of days whereas others are able to successfully maintain their habits? On Quora, a user who asked a similar question was flooded with answers. Responses all expressed doubts about the original person’s motivation, interest, and confidence which may be valid causes but failed to probe into identity. Often, we hear what do you want to be too often, but a better question would be who do you want to be and only then are you adequately equipped with the tools to build that profile you desire. You wish to be healthy, but is that possible if you discount absorbing the characteristics of a person in good physical condition? In Atomic Habits, James expands on identity change by providing readers with a model that dissects what he calls the three layers of behaviour change. Identity change is elaborated on as the deepest level of the onion; concerning modifying your beliefs, world view, self-image, and judgements.
1% is better than nothing
This was a difficult to swallow truth for me, but it was the central tenet to Atomic Habits. We often treat small achievements as unworthy of critical consideration because of excessive emphasis for results and outcomes, and this impairs our capacity for true growth. One page of reading seems too insignificant to celebrate, nibbling on a carrot isn’t noteworthy, but what if we validated these baby steps with the acknowledgement that it’s hundred percent better than not reading or eating healthy at all?It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If someone offered you fifty dollars, you wouldn’t turn it down because you wanted a hundred instead. We must learn how to accept and embrace one percent and endorse the power time has for small-scale progress. Become hyper aware of the situations and circumstances where we can cast a one percent vote for the identity we want, and take it a step further by deliberating placing ourselves in environments where adding one percent is possible. James accounts for how atomic habits are individually the mechanisms to a system of compound growth.
Suffering drives progress
Farmers have a lot to consider concerning their crops. Pesky animals and bugs that may ravage their labour, lack of rainfall, and poor soil conditions. The work to be done on farms proved to be far more arduous and required extra exertion in the past to compensate for the lack of technology. Agriculture has seen much development as a direct result of suffering – previously if farmers had a low yield it promised peril for their families such as food insecurity. Modern technology and recent advancements have eliminated such adversity. The primary motivation for such evolution of said industry was suffering. The progress was driven by a desire to alleviate hardship. Previously I would step out of situations that demanded tribulations, but now attempt to embrace them because of the realization that you can optimize adversity and leverage it into incentive for improvement if done correctly.
Atomic Habits transforms the attitude towards progress by highlighting the potent potential of small routine practices magnified. It masterfully draws on complex behavioural sciences suggesting tried and proven modern strategies to an ancient relic of the earliest humans (instant gratification) and applies it to relevant and relatable affairs to a broad spectrum of readers, leaving them with a lingering phantom itch to compound atomic habits for cosmic results.