It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.
Improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable — but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference, a tiny improvement can make over time, is astounding.
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits.
In order to make a difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through the Plateau of Latent Potential. When you finally break through this plateau, people will call it an overnight success.
You measure the size of your accomplishments by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.
Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices, determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
Mastery requires patience.
We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.
If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your systems instead. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.
Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment.
True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.
Your behaviours 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 non-consciously.
The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do. Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome.
Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits.
Your habits are just a series of automatic solutions that solve the problems and stresses you face regularly. “Habits are, simply, reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment.”
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.
Habit formation is incredibly useful because the conscious mind is the bottleneck of the brain. It can only pay attention to one problem at a time. As a result, your brain is always working to preserve your conscious attention for whatever task is most essential. Whenever possible, the conscious mind likes to pawn off tasks to the non-conscious mind to do automatically. This is precisely what happens when a habit is formed. Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks.
Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it.
The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward. First, there is the cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward.
Cravings are the second step, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. Every craving is linked to a desire to change your internal state. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the observer are what transform a cue into a craving.
The third step is the response. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behavior.
Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward.
The first purpose of rewards is to satisfy your craving. Second, rewards teach us which actions are worth remembering in the future.
The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response, reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits. This cycle is known as the habit loop.
The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing. This helps explain why the consequences of bad habits can sneak up on us.
Habit stacking is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. Every habit is context dependent.
Visual cues are the greatest catalyst of our behaviour. For this reason, a small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do. If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, make the cue a big part of your environment. The most persistent behaviours usually have multiple cues.
Once a habit has been encoded, the urge to act follows whenever the environmental cues reappear.
Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. They foster the feelings they try to numb. You feel bad, so you eat junk food. Because you eat junk food, you feel bad.
I enjoyed reading this book and wanted to share some of the best parts compiled as a blog post.