6 things I learned from Atomic Habits

Am I too old to change?

  1. Most of the time I don’t lack motivation, I lack clarity.

There are so many sources of distraction throughout the hours of the day – emails, reels, news, DMs, memes, and so on. It’s so easy to consume things, I get stuck and overwhelmed by things just disrupting my workflow. I am motivated, it’s just that I lose focus on the goal when other things are cluttering my mind. Clarity helps identify where the roadblocks are and what simple habits I need to form in order to abolish or navigate around them.

For example, instead of cluttering my mind at the very start of the day when I wake, I will make sure that I use a physical alarm clock instead and have my phone across the room so that I am not doom scrolling even before I get out of bed.

  1. Improve just 1% each day – small, everyday routines compound into massive change with time.

If I wrote 200 words a day (not on weekends), I would have written 78,000 words in a year. What’s 200 words, a little less than half a page, single-spaced?

  1. Practice environment design to enable new habits to flow into your life.

One simple thing I changed in order to ensure I had food ready to fuel me for gruelling writing days was to keep nourishing food within easy reach. At the start of the workday, I would have a large bottle full of water on my desk, and right next to it are prepared little containers of nuts, snacking vegetables, fruit, and always one little treat. This prevented me from the mental fatigue of thinking about what to eat constantly throughout the day. I knew what snacks I had. I had no reason to skip any meals, even during the busiest day.

  1. Stack new habits in between existing ones.

I’m a tropical girl and during winter, my skin tends to get extra dry. Brushing my teeth and washing my face are already ingrained habits, but as I grow older, I know I need a more regimented facial routine at night. What I did was just add an extra step in the sequence of things I do in the bathroom before bed and I say it out loud so I don’t forget – brush teeth, wash face, hydrate face, brush hair. I did these steps and said it out loud for a few weeks every day until I formed a solid habit.

  1. Reward yourself when you have formed a habit you desired.

I reward myself by putting in some extra ‘investment’ into my future self. Whenever I am successful in forming a new positive habit, I put some extra money into my ‘travel’ savings account. Sometimes I use this as well to reward myself for practicing delayed gratification. For example, whenever I am feeling lazy and impulsively want to order Ubereats, I’ll simply pause and put the money I’d spend on takeaway just for me into my ‘travel’ savings account.

  1. Habits can change your life.

James Clear, the author of the book discussed how habits radically changed his life after a major accident. I’m pretty confident that the tiny, minuscule, atomic habits I am intentionally forming right now will help me enhance the wonderful life I am grateful to be living right now.

Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, books, Productivity, procrastination