I finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear in the last week of December, 2022. For well over a decade, Self-management literature has been an integral part of my life. From ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ in 2010 to Atomic Habits in 2022 (many other books in between), I have become a much better individual, professionally and personally.
Atomic Habits gave me a much needed inspiration, as well as a few practical tips and tools for (re)starting and maintaining habits. These tools have assisted me to propel a quite a few things from my wishlist to Done (or getting done), which is great feeling! What does the book offer? Read Book Review of Atomic Habits. Read other Book Reviews here
How did the book help me?
The book helped me to shift my mindset from believing that habits are solely a function of will power and determination to realizing that a deliberately curated ecosystem can actually propel habit formation and maintenance. Using this principle, I’ve created cues in my environment (does nudge theory sound familiar?) to remind me of my habits and I see results from that approach.
90 times in 90 days! If someone told me early last December that I would meditate every single day for the next 90 days (and more…), I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s a significant change for me – number may not be important but the fact is that for a long time I knew I needed to do this, I wished to do it but didn’t, and now finally, I am doing it, daily!
Cue: A small jute mat which I use for meditation lies my room in full view and it is easily accessible.
Another big change has been the discipline in my writing. I started writing in 2007 and have never been as consistent. For last 90 days, I am writing every single day (paper and pen) and have been timely sharing it on my website https://versatilistaqua.com/. This gives me immense satisfaction. James mentioned that habits are a function of Identity and I have embraced my identity – I am someone who loves to write, so I find no reason to skip it.
Cue: A big 6 section notepad sits on my work table, obvious and easy to access.
These habits have been at the core of change for me and I used one of the techniques suggested in the book i.e. Habit tracking to keep them going. Of course, this isn’t a new idea and I have tried it before. However, I used to make a mistake of not making the tracking easy, obvious and tracked too many habits. This time around:
1) The tracker is pasted on the almirah of my work room (it’s obvious and no fuss tracking)
2) I do this only for two core habits
3) Knowing when not to track a habit – I don’t track my walk, reading or daily prayer (a habit I lost years ago and revived this year) but I see consistency in these areas as well.
Another priciple that I have imbibed is really helping me out.
Principle: To develop better habits, immerse yourself in a culture where your desired habit is the norm.
- My Coaching practice has expanded. I am working with a group of professionals who are passionate about Coaching and share the common objective of using Coaching to help their clients/peers develop.
- I have joined a new poetry group and activated meet ups in this group. It is helping me to stay connected with folks who live and breathe poetry. This group is helping me to improve my knowledge and refine my ability. Most of my writing this year has been poetry – a clear linkage between the behavior and outcome.
- I have been a part of motor biking groups since last year when I started building riding as a hobby. I never really realised how to use these groups but heightened awareness on my parat is helping me to better leverage this community.
A few Tips
Another useful tip from the book is, scheduling activities by setting reminders for repeated transactions that I need to carry out. This also builds on the principle from Getting Things Done by David Allen, which says – keep your brain free from remembering trivial tasks so that it can focus on design and creativity. Here are some examples:
All of my transactions like bill payments and small activities are now set up as reminders so that I don’t forget those. Like I water plants every alternate (it’s unbelievable but true that I used to miss this), attending to home compost (khamba) every week and so on.
This may sound trivial but is extremely effective. Scheduling gives clarity, predictibility and thus stickiness to the habits: Wednesday and Sunday is the day to post writings on my website, slots for coaching are on the weekend, bike rides are Sundays and so on.
Two minute Rule (almost very book has one of these, read another amazing 2 minute rule here). In the last 90 days, I’ve had busy days and weeks at work, I travelled outside the city, had friends visiting over etc. Distractions and interruptions have occured, but I remained committed by using the two minute roule that says, if you don’t have the time/energy to go full course with your habit, then do a 2 minute verson of it. Like only wear shoes, lay out the mat or open the notebook and flip through pages etc. I have medidated for 5-6 mins only on few days and, wrote only a few lines on some days. Consistency over volume is the key!
What’s not working?
A few things are still not working like:
- I am unable to repeat the behavior at a specific time only – foundation has been laid but my habits have not yet become fixed at a specific time
- Sometimes I feel the pressure of maintaining these habits
- Some habits are not sticky, such as my intention to read every night before bed, which is yet to work out!
Final Word and Ask for suggestions
In retrospect, last quarter was amazing and all it took was reading one good book which enticed my brain into action. Some other books that have lured me into constructive thought and action include: Getting Things Done, No Rules Rules, and Work Rules.
What is that you do to break the monotony and build momentum to do things you enjoy. What has helped you?
Thanks for reading this article, and thanks in advance for sharing your insights. I recommend that you consider Atomic Habits for reading and I wish you all the best for your journey, Cheers!
Like reading Book Reviews, Poetry and Travel Stories? Versatilistaqua is your space for interesting content in these areas of your interest. You can also follow VersatilistAqua on Instagram here.
For more book reviews of interesting top sellers, check out this section here.