Book Notes: Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear has been one of the beneficial books that I have read this year. And I wanted to share the notes and ideas which helped me with you all.19_jan_clear

The crux of the book is that Habits are the compound interest of self improvement.  The effects of your habits multiplies as you repeat them just like money.  A simple change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination.

According to James Clear,  all habits revolves around the below four step model and any behavior change revolves around these steps.

  1. Cue
  2. Craving
  3. Response
  4. Reward

Aggregation of Marginal gains:

It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What really matter is whether your habits are putting you in the right path to success. Instead of focusing on your current results, you should you concerned with your current trajectory. Your aim should be to become 1% better everyday. Winning tiny battles like hitting the gym each week, reading books each day and spending less than you earn each month will define your future.

Can 1 % improvement really make any difference?

Habits often appears to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. People make few small changes and when they fail to see immediate results, they quit. This is the prime reason why people struggle to build habits that lasts.

Mastery require patience. Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiple whatever you feed it. Good Habits makes time your ally and Bad habits make time your enemy.

Habits and Identity:

The more pride you have in a particular aspects of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it. James argues that identity is literally your “repeated being”. The frequency of your habits influence your identity and vice versa. The goal is NOT to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.

Two step process:

  1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
  2. Prove it to your self with small wins.

Laws of Habits:

Habit Law Rules
How to create a Good Habit The First Law Make it Obvious
The Second Law Make it Attractive
The Third Law Make it Easy
The Fourth Law Make it Satisfying
Habit Law Rules
How to break a Bad Habit Inversion of the First Law Make it Invisible
Inversion of the Second Law Make it Unattractive
Inversion of the Third Law Make it Difficult
Inversion of the Fourth Law Make it Unsatisfying

The First Law:

Create a habit scorecard: 

  1. Make a list of your daily habits.
  2. Once you list, look at each habits and ask yourself “Is this a good/bad or a neutral habit?.  Assign ‘+’ if its a good habit, ‘-‘ for bad habit and ‘=’ for neutral habit.

Design your environment:

Environment is the invisible hand that shapes your behavior. If you want to make a behavior change, make a cue a big part of your environment. The most persistent behavior will usually have multiple cues.

Habit Stacking:

Best way to build a new habit is to identity a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.

The Second Law:

We need to make our habits attractive so learn to associate them with positive experience. Sometimes all you need is a slight mind-set shift.

The Third Law:

If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You just need to practice it often. The more you repeat an activity, the more structure of your brain changes to become efficient at it. Example: Learn a new language, play an instrument require repetition.

Two minutes rule:

When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.

Example: Read before bed each night becomes “Read one page”. Run three miles becomes “take out my running shoes”.

The Fourth Law:

What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished it avoided. Reward yourself after every new habit. Take a bubble bath or going on a leisurely walk.

Never miss twice

You don’t realize how valuable it is to just show up on your bad days. Lost days hurt you more than successful days help you. So always show up.

Create a Habit contract:

Create a habit contract with you partner or your friend. This will help you stay the course.

These are some of the best points I have found helpful from the book. Let me know if you have found other great tips for habit building.

If you are looking for more Habit hacks, then I recommend that you follow James clear on twitter.

 

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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – [Book Summary]

scottadams

A book can leave great positive impact on some and leave no mark on others. As I was reading this book, I knew this book will leave a positive impact on me. This is a part-memoir and part self-help book. And I learn’t a lot of hacks and life lessons from Scott Adams. I wanted to share some of the interesting thing which I learnt.

  • Systems Vs Goal. 
  • Personal energy.
  • Success causes passion.
  • Habit of success.
  • Talent stack.
  • Affirmation and How to become an optimist
  • Happiness recipe.

System Vs Goals:

Scott Adams says “Goals are for loser”.  I know it sounds blasphemous but he makes some good counter-intuitive points. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.   If your goal is to loose 10 lbs, you’re in a state of nearly continuous failure until you achieve your goal.

Whereas System-oriented people look to do something everyday which will increase their odds of happiness in the long-run. They will continuously  for better deals and succeed every-time they apply their system. Instead of loosing 10 lbs, if your system is to eat right every-day then every health meal you eat makes you a success. It will create a positive feedback and eventually this will increase your physical and mental well-being.

I know this system vs goals distinction looks vague on the surface. Here is a good way to distinguish between the two. A system is you do everyday regularly that increases your odd of happiness. A goal is something you’re waiting to achieve someday in the future.

Personal energy:

The most important metric to track in your life is personal energy. Personal energy is what brings you happiness and success. So if you focus on increasing your personal energy happiness success will follow.

Maximizing your personal energy means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep and having something that excites you in life.

Managing your personal energy is like managing your budget. It gives an asymmetric payoff.

Success causes passion:

Success caused passion more than passion caused success. Passion is often simply a by-product of knowing you will be good at something. People are rarely passionate about something they’re not good at or something they know that they will never be good at.

Habit of success:

Pick a hobby or sport and become consistently good at it. The habit of success will stay with you on more important quests in life. After you tasted success, you will want more and this wanting will give you the sort of energy that is critical to success.

Talent stack:

Good+ Good > Excellent

Every skill you acquire doubles your odd of success. Instead of pursuing a singular skill, trying to be good at combinations of ordinary skills will bring you better odds of success. Entrepreneurs are a good example here.

Affirmation and How to become an optimist:

Affirmation is a system of that helps you focus, boosts your optimism and energy and perhaps validates the talent and drive that your subconscious always knew you had.

You can train yourself to act like an optimist by writing affirmation is probably a good training. So that you will get the same benefits as natural optimists when it comes to noticing opportunities.

Happiness recipe:

Happiness should be the only pursuit in our life. Scott Adams gives a bold recipe for happiness to life.

  • Eat right.
  • Exercise.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Imagine an incredible future.
  • Have flexible schedule.
  • DO things at you steadily improve.
  • Reduce daily decisions to routine.
  • Help others after you help yourself.

Highly recommend that you give “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” by Scott Adams a read.

 

 

 

28 Principles to Live by on 28th Birthday

Principles are internal Operating System based on which we function in the real world. Inspired by Ray Dalio’s Principles, I wanted to explicitly write down and share the principles which I believe in. Although this is primarily a self- conversation, I hope that you will find something useful.

1.Read More, No TV:
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” — Mark Twain.

Having spent my childhood frivolously in front of television, I guarantee that TV adds no value to your life. Dump the TV , cut your cable subscription and subscribe to your local library. Reading will enrich you and open many avenues in life. Read at least one hour a day no matter what.

2. Embrace the inner Contrarian:
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei” — Latin Proverb or “Crowd is untruth” — Søren Kierkegaard.

The so called conventional wisdom has made us believe that there is wisdom to the crowds. I’m sure every culture has some variation of the quote”Vox Populi, Vox Dei”. However if you closely examine history, you will notice that there is no wisdom to the crowds. Only Manias and bubbles exists in crowds. Embrace the your inner Contrarian (with a capital c) and go against it.

3.Addition by Subtraction:
“Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.”

Adding a new feature to an App is great but bug fixing is crucial. Likewise, fix a bad habit or characteristic to become better and stronger. Improve via negativa.

4.Remove the Toxic and Negative people:
“Stay away from negative people they have a problem for every solution” — Albert Einstein

Life is short. Remove the toxic and negative people from your circle.

5.Seek Community:
“No man is an Island” — John Donne

This one took me a while to realise. Even contrarians need a community. Find your community, seek deep meaning, nurture &add value to them.

6.Compete with yourself:
“To be a champion, compete; to be a great champion, compete with the best; but to be the greatest champion, compete with yourself.” — Matshona Dhilwayo

I know its a cliché. But you will never find someone with identical experiences, memories, circumstances and memories as yours. You are the best person to compete with. Be the best version of yourself!

7. Self-regulate your online hours:
“Today, spend a little time cultivating relationships offline. Never forget that everybody isn’t on social media.” — Germany Kent

Internet is a double-edged sword. Unless you are careful, you will never know whether you are consuming the internet or the internet is consuming you. Don’t take break to go offline. When you find break, go online.

8. Fitness:
“Your body has rights over you, so take care of it” — Prophet Muhammad.

Especially in today’s time, Fitness is of paramount importance. Because your physical well being correlates with your mental well being.

9. Journal:
“Don’t trust your memory, jot it all down” — Earl Schoaaff

This one is a work in progress for me. Keep a journal and document your life in words and not just via social media.

10. Learn to think in Numbers:
“Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe” — Galileo

If you cannot think in Numbers, you are putting yourself in disadvantage. World of computers have chipped away our mathematical acumen. Slowly and steadily regain your Math skills and apply in daily life.

11. Make ONE big move every year:
Our comfort zone is a place where you keep yourself in a self-illusion and nothing can grow there but your potentiality can grow only when you can think and grow out of that zone.” — Rashedur Ryan Rahman

Making one big move every year is surprisingly a easy move comparatively. The Hardest part is convincing yourself to the task. Once you walk past it, it open many new doors.

12. Think big, Start small:
“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.” — H. Jackson Brown. Jr

Another cliché here. But think about it. If you have a Big daunting goal, having many small milestones will help you reinforce positive feedback and help you achieve it.

13. Its okay to change your POV. 
The Man Who Views the World at 50 the Same as He Did at 20 Has Wasted 30 Years of His Life.” — Muhammed Ali

Don’t be intransigent. Its okay to change your point of view in the light of new evidence. Willingness to change is a sign of a sound person.

14. Be Open-Minded:
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” — Frank Zappa

Having an Open-Mind, opens you to many possibilities. With Possibilities comes opportunities.

15. Trends are over-rated mostly:
Everything popular is wrong” — Oscar Wilde

Popularity isn’t proof. If something is trendy its either over-valued or over-sold, so be wary of trends generally.

16. Don’t heed to other’s opinions:
Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. — Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski

You have a Super-power, if you don’t care what other people think.

17. Be curious:
Be curious not Judgemental .” — Walt Whitman

Go wherever your mind takes you. Follow your curiousity.

18. Protect your attention: 
It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.” — Alex Ohanian

First of all Attention on any given day is of finite supply. And studies have proved it again and again. Secondly and most importantly the Attention economy is slowly eating our attention like parasites eating our brain. So learn to guard you attention.

19. Know your Weakness:
“Every weakness contains within itself a strength.” — Shusaku Endo

Knowing what you don’t know and knowing your weakness will help you stay out of troubles almost all the time.

20. Take intelligent risks:
“Never was anything great achieved without danger.” ―Niccolo Machiavelli

Most of the seemingly risk free choices are often the riskiest. First understand what is risk. The word “risk” derives from the early Italian risicare, which means “to dare”. So Analysis, Understand and daringly, place your bets.

21. Avoid Thinking Traps:
“I don’t want the cheese, I Just want to get out of the trap” -anon

There are certain thinking traps you need to avoid like “Group traps”, “Burning Issue traps”, “Status-quo traps”.

22. Have Low Time Preference:
Don’t put off for tomorrow what you should do today. — Aesop fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper

From Aesop fables “The Ant and the Grasshopper” to Stanford Marshmellow experiment , it shows the importance of having low time preference or delayed gratification. Learn self-control.

23. Always invest in yourself:
“You will never go broke from investing in yourself” — anon

If you are not ready to invest in yourself, no one else will. You are the best investment you will ever make in your life.

24. It is okay to Start over:
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

Its okay to Start over as long as you don’t stop.

25. Don’t be afraid to make a decision:
“Don’t be afraid to make decisions in life.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

Most decisions in life are reversibile. So don’t hold back, make a decision. If it works you will be happy. If it doesn’t work you will be wise.

26. Have Skin in the game: 
Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference” — Nicholas Taleb

Don’t give or take advice unless he or she who giving advice has skin in the game. From Economist to Teachers are selling opinions with no skin in the game. If you give advice, ask yourself “If I were in his/her position, would I do the same thing?”

27. Be obsessive:
“You become what you think about all day long.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be obsessive. Run it in loop until you make it.

28. You’re the most important person in your life:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

Be yourself. You’re the most important person in your life. The only person you should try to make happy and impress is your own self.