The Introduction starts with the author narrating his close-to-death experience at school during a sports event. The personal story is what makes the introduction so gripping.
What are Atomic Habits?
..an atomic habit refers to a tiny change, a marginal gain, a 1 percent improvement.
“Atomic” is derived from the root word, Atom. Atoms come together to create everything we see around us. Thus, the idea is not making a big commitment, but starting small. Small habits (which seems inconsequential) will eventually compound given enough time and prove extraordinary in our lives.
The 1% Rule
The author bets massively on little but consistent changes. If we improve just 1% every day, by the end of the year, we will end up 37x better than when we started. However, if we go 1% worse, we’ll end up at zero by the same time.
The compelling argument by the author is not about our current success or a lack of it, but the trajectory that we are on that will determine our success.
Success, as well as failures, are lagging measures of habits. Our Net worth is a lagging measure of how we manage our finances. If we are spending more, how can we have unrealistic expectations of savings? Weight (referring to overweight) is a lagging measure of our eating habits. Knowledge is a lagging measure of our learning habits.
We can predict our future success through an evaluation of our current habits (good and bad) and we will know for sure on the trajectory we have embarked.
The Valley of Disappointment
It is unrealistic to visualize progress in a straight line. We start excellently for some time and abandon as soon as we don’t see the expected results. Habits take time to form and the results of those habits also take time to compound.
The Plateau of Latent Potential
If you find yourself struggling to build a good habit or break a bad one, it is ..because you have not yet crossed the Plateau of Latent Potential.
Why can’t we see the immediate results of good habits? Habits will appear after crossing a specific threshold. The author gives the example of an ice cube. It will not melt from 25 degrees to 31 degrees (-3.8 °C to -0.5 °C). However all the hard work is not wasted, it’s just being stored. All the action starts to happen at 32 degrees (0 °C).
Systems versus Goals
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. But if you maintain the same sloppy, pack-rat habits that led to a messy room in the first place, soon you’ll be looking at a new pile of clutter and hoping for another burst of motivation.
Our entire life, it has been hammered into our consciousness that goals are what mattered the most. Goal setting is nothing without an accompanying conducive System. You need a strong character to reach and maintain a goal. When the goal has been achieved, then what? We relapse into the old habits again. A healthy System will keep us going.
The Goal is not to clean the room, it is to become a tidy person.
The Goal is not to meditate, it is to become a meditator.
The Goal is not to eat healthily, it is to become healthy.
The Goal is not to feel happy after that assignment/project, it is to become a happy person.
Tune in and join me in reading chapter 2 tomorrow!