Atomic Habits Book Notes
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
by James Clear
My personal book notes/summary on James Clear's book, Atomic Habits.
Table of Contents
How to Break a Bad Habit
How to Create a Good Habit
Little Lessons from the Four Laws
FUNDAMENTALS - Why Tiny Changes Make a Big Difference
Chapter 1: The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits
1% better every day
1 % worse every day for one year 0.99 = 00.03
1% better every day for one year 1.01 = 37.78
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run. The effect of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.
Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy. Habits can work for you or against you, which is why understanding the details is essential.
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results
Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress
Winners and losers have the same goals
Achieving a goal is only a momentary change
Goals restrict your happiness
Goals are at odds with long-term progress
If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your systems instead. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Atomic Habits - a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. It is a little habit that is part of a larger system.
Chapter 2: How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)
Three Layers of Behavior Change
OUTCOMES - changing results
PROCESS - changing habits and systems
IDENTITY - changing beliefs
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. The most effective way to change your habits is to not focus on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.
Decide the type of person you want to be
Prove it to yourself with small wins
Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results, but because they can change your beliefs about yourself
Chapter 3: How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps
A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic. The process of habit formation begins with trial and error.
The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.
Any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves four steps: cue, craving, response and reward.
Process of Building a habit
CUE - triggers your brain to initiate a behavior
CRAVING - motivational force behind every habit, desire to change your internal state
RESPONSE - actual habit you perform
REWARD - end goal of every habit
Habit Loop - Endless feedback loop that is running and active every moment you are alive. The brain is continually scanning the environment, predicting what will happen next, trying out different responses, and learning from the results.
The Four Laws of Behavior Change
How to Create a Good Habit
CUE - make it obvious
CRAVING - make it attractive
RESPONSE - make it easy
REWARD - make it satisfying
How to Break a Bad Habit
CUE - make it invisible
CRAVING - make it unattractive
RESPONSE - make it difficult
REWARD - make it unsatisfying
1ST LAW - Make it Obvious
Chapter 4: The Man Who Didn't Look Right
The human brain is continuously taking in your surroundings and analyzing the information it comes across. With enough practice, your brain will pick up on the cues that predict certain outcomes without consciously thinking about it.
You don't need to be aware of the cue for a habit to begin.
Over time, the cues that spark our habits become so common that they are essentially invisible. Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing
The process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them.
"Point-and-calling" technique raises your level of awareness from a non-conscious habit to a more conscious level by verbalizing your actions.
Make a list of your daily habits
Look at each behavior and as yourself, "Is this a good habit, a bad habit, or a neutral habit?"
If it's a good habit write "+", bad habit "-", neutral habit "="
The first step to changing bad habits is to be on the lookout for them.
Chapter 5: The Best Way to Start a New Habit
The 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it obvious
The two most common cues are
Implementation intention - a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act
Creating an implementation intention is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a specific time and location.
Broadly speaking, the format for creating an implementation intention is: "When situation X arises, I will perform response Y."
"I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]"
Being specific about what you want and how you will achieve it helps you say no to things that derail progress, distract your attention, and pull you off course.
Habit Stacking - One way to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.
"After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]"
The key is to tie you desired behavior into something you already do each day
Allows you to create a simple set of rules that guide your future behavior.
Your cue should also have the same frequency as your desired habit. One way to do so is (1) create a list with two columns (2) 1st column write down the habits you do each day without fail (3) 2nd column write down all of the things that happen to you each day without fail
Habit Stacking works best when the cue is highly specific and immediately actionable
Chapter 6: Motivation is Overrated; Environment Often Matters More
Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior. Every habit is context dependent.
A small change in what you can see can lead to a big shift in what you do. Small changes in context can lead to larger changes in behavior over time.
How to Design Your Environment for Success
Every habit is initiated by a cue, and we are more likely to notice cues that stand out. When the cues that spark a habit are subtle or hidden, they are easy to ignore. By comparison, creating obvious visual cues can draw your attention toward a desired habit.
If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, make the cue a big part of your environment, you increase the odds that you'll think about your habit throughout the day.
Our behavior is not defined by the objects in the environment but by our relationship to them.
Habits can be easier to change in a new environment. It is easier to associate a new habit with a new context than to build a new habit in the face of competing cues. When you can't to get a new environment, redefine or rearrange your current one.
Avoid mixing the context of one habit with another.
Chapter 7: The Secrets to Self-Control
The inversion of the 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it invisible.
"Disciplined" people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. People with high self-control tend to spend less time in tempting situations. It's easier to avoid temptation than resist it.
Once a habit has been formed, the urge to act follows whenever the environmental cues reappear. Once a habit is formed, it is unlikely to be forgotten. Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. Once a habit has been created, they are nearly impossible to remove entirely even if they go unused for quite a while.
One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it. The inversion of the 1st Law of Behavior Change is make it invisible.
2ND LAW - Make it Attractive
Chapter 8: How to Make a Habit Irresistible
The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. If you want to increase the odds that a behavior will occur, then you need to make it attractive. To do this, we must start by understanding what a craving is and how it works.
The Dopamine-Driven Feedback Loop
Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. Every behavior that is highly habit-forming is associated with higher levels of dopamine. Dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it. Whenever you predict that an opportunity will be rewarding, your levels of dopamine spike in anticipation. It is the anticipation of a reward - not the fulfillment of it - that gets us to take action.
The reward system that is activated in the brain when you receive a reward is the same system that is activated when you anticipate a reward.
Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response. We need to make our habits attractive because it is the expectation of a rewarding experience that motivates us to act in the first place.
How to Use Temptation Bundling to Make Your Habits More Attractive
The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
The habit stacking + temptation bundling formula is:
After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].
After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].
Chapter 9: The Role of Family and Friends in Shaping Your Habits
The culture we live in determines which behaviors are attractive to us.
The Seductive Pull of Social Norms
We don't choose our earliest habits, we imitate them. These social norms are the invisible rules that guide your behavior each day. We tend to adopt habits that are praised and approved of by our culture because we have a strong desire to fit in and belong to the tribe.
We imitate the habits of three groups in particular:
The close - Proximity has a powerful effect on our behavior. As a general rule, the closer we are to someone, the more likely we are to imitate some of their habits. One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group. The shared identity begins to reinforce your personal identity.
The many - Whenever we are unsure how to act, we look to the group to guide our behavior. When changing your habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive. When changing your habits means fitting in with the tribe, change is very attractive. The normal behavior of the tribe often overpowers the desired behavior of the individual.
The powerful - We are also motivated to avoid behaviors that would lower our status. If a behavior can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.
Chapter 10: How to Find and Fix the Causes of Your Bad Habits
Where Cravings Come From
Every behavior has a surface level craving and a deeper underlying motive. Some of our underlying motives include:
Obtain food and water
Find love and reproduce
Connect and bond with others
Win social acceptance and approval
Achieve status and prestige
Your habits are modern-day solutions to cravings. A craving is just a specific manifestation of a deeper underlying motive.
Our behavior is heavily dependent on how we interpret the events that happen to us, not necessarily the objective reality of the events themselves.
The specific cravings you feel and habits you perform are really an attempt to address your fundamental underlying motives.
How to Reprogram Your Brain to Enjoy Hard Habits
Reframing your habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive. A motivation ritual: you simply practice associating your habits with something you enjoy, then you can use that cue whenever you need a bit of motivation.
The key to finding and fixing the causes of your bad habits is to reframe the associations you have about them.
3RD LAW - Make it Easy
Chapter 11: Walk Slowly, But Never Backward
The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning. Difference between being in motion and taking action. Motion: you're planning and strategizing and learning. Action: will deliver an outcome. If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection.
How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit?
Habit formation is the process by which a behavior becomes progressively more automatic through repetition. The more you repeat an activity, the more the structure of your brain changes to become efficient at that activity.
Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step which occurs when the nonconscious mind takes over.
The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.
Chapter 12: Law of Least Effort
The Shape of Human Behavior
Law of Least Effort - when deciding between two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. If you can make your good habits more convenient, you'll be more likely to follow through on them.
How to Achieve More With Less Effort
Effective ways to reduce the friction associated with your habits is to practice environment design. When deciding where to practice a new habit, create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Reduce the friction associated with good behavior. When friction is low, habits are easy.
A strategy: addition by subtraction, when we remove the points of friction that sap our time and energy, we can achieve more with less effort. Increase the friction associated with bad behaviors. When friction is high, habits are difficult.
Prime the Environment for Future Use
The purpose of resetting each room is not simply to clean up after the last action, but to prepare for the next action. Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy.
Chapter 13: How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the Two Minute Rule
Habits can be completed in a few seconds but continue to impact your behavior for minutes or hours afterward. Decisive moments - every day, there are a handful of moments that deliver an outsized impact.
The difference between a good day and a bad day is often a few productive and healthy choices made at decisive moments.
The Two-Minute Rule
"when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do". What you want is a "gateway habit" that naturally leads you down a more productive path.
The truth is, a habit must be established before it can be improved. First two minutes become a ritual at the beginning of a larger routine. The more you ritualized the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things. The secret is to always stay below the point where it feels like work.
Habit shaping - scale your habit back up toward your ultimate goal. Start by mastering the first two minutes of the smallest version of the behavior. Focusing on just the first two minutes and mastering that stage before moving on to the next level.
Chapter 14: How to Make Good Habits Inevitable and Bad Habits Impossible
Inversion of the 3rd Law of Behavior Change: make it difficult.
A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future. It is a way to lock in future behavior, bind you to good habits, and restrict you from bad ones. The ultimate way to lock in future behavior is to automate your habits.
How to Automate a Habit and Never Think About it Again
The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impractical to do. Increase the friction until you don't even have the option to act.
Onetime choices - single actions that automate your future habits and deliver increasing returns over time.
Using technology to automate your habits is the most reliable and effective way to guarantee the right behavior.
4TH LAW - Make it Satisfying
Chapter 15: The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change
We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying. Conversely, if an experience is not satisfying, we have little reason to repeat it.
The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change - What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.
Fourth law of behavior change (make it satisfying) - increases the odds that a behavior will be repeated next time. It completes the habit loop.
The Mismatch Between Immediate and Delayed Rewards
Immediate-return environment - your actions instantly deliver clear and immediate outcomes
Delayed-return environment - you can work for years before your actions deliver the intended payoff
With our bad habits, the immediate outcome usually feels good, but the ultimate outcome feels bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: the immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the ultimate outcome feels good. Or put it another way, the costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.
How to Turn Instant Gratification To Your Advantage
To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful - even if it's in a small way.
Immediate reinforcement helps maintain motivation in the short term while you're waiting for the long-term rewards to arrive.
Chapter 16: How to Stick with Good Habits Every Day
Making progress is satisfying, and visual measures - like moving paper clips or hairpins or marbles - provide clear evidence of your progress. As a result, they reinforce your behavior and add a little bit of immediate satisfaction to any activity.
How to Keep Your Habits on Track
A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit. Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress.
Don't break the chain - try to keep your habit streak alive.
Benefits of Habit Tracking:
Habit tracking is obvious. It creates a visual cue that can remind you to act.
Habit tracking is attractive. It is inherently motivating because you see the progress you are making and don't want to lose it.
Habit tracking is satisfying. It feels satisfying whenever you record another successful instance of your habit.
Habit tracking provides visual proof that you are casting votes for the type of person you wish to become.
How to make tracking easier?
Whenever possible, measurement should be automated.
Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits.
The habit stacking + habit tracking formula is:
After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [TRACK MY HABIT].
How to Recover Quickly When Your Habits Break Down
A simple rule: never miss twice. Missing twice is the start of a new habit. You don't realize how valuable it is to just show up on your bad (or busy) days. Lost days hurt you more than successful days help you.
Knowing When (And When Not) To Track a Habit
The dark side of tracking a particular behavior is that we become driven by the number rather than the purpose behind it. Goodhart's Law, the principle states, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure". Measurement is only useful when it guides you and adds context to a larger picture, not when it consumes you.
Just because you can measure something doesn't mean it's the most important thing.
Chapter 17: How an Accountability Partner Can Change Everything
Inversion of the 4th Law: make it immediate unsatisfying. The more immediate the pain, the less likely the behavior. We repeat bad habits because they serve us in some way. We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying. One way to overcome this predicament is to increase the speed of the punishment associated with the behavior.
The Habit Contract
A verbal or written agreement in which you state your commitment to a particular habit and the punishment that will occur if you don't follow through. Then you find one or two people to act as your accountability partners and sign off on the contract with you.
An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us. A habit contract can be used to add a social cost to any behavior. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful. Knowing that someone else is watching you can be a powerful motivator.
ADVANCED TACTICS - How to Go from Being Merely Good to Being Truly Great
Chapter 18: The Truth About Talent (When Genes Matter and When They Don't)
The secret of maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. Habits are easier to perform, and more satisfying to stick with, when they align with your natural inclinations and abilities.
In short: genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity. Genes cannot be easily changed, which means they provide a powerful advantage in favorable circumstances and a serious disadvantage in unfavorable circumstances.
How Your Personality Influences Your Habits
"Big Five" Personality Traits: (1) openness (2) conscientiousness (3) extroversion (4) agreeable (5) neuroticism.
Our deeply rooted preferences make certain behaviors easier for some people than for others. You should build habits that work for your personality.
How to Find a Game Where the Odds Are In Your Favor
Use explore/exploit trade-off strategy; in the beginning of a new activity, there should be a period of exploration. The goal is to try out as many possibilities, research a broad range of ideas, and cast a wide net. After this initial period of exploration, shift your focus to the best solution you've found- but keep experimenting occasionally.
Several criteria to narrow in on the habits and areas that will be most satisfying to you:
The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you were made to do.
Flow is the mental state you enter when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away.
We are continually comparing ourselves to those around us, and a behavior is more likely to be satisfying when the comparison is in our favor.
Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction.
When you can't win by being better, you can win by being different. By combining your skills, you reduce the level of competition, which makes it easier to stand out.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Genes
Genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on.
Chapter 19: The Goldilocks Rule, How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work
The Goldilocks Rule - humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities; not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
When you're starting a new habit, it's important to keep the behavior as easy as possible so you can stick with it even when conditions aren't perfect. Once a habit has been established, however, it's important to continue to advance in small ways. And if you hit the Goldilocks Zone, you can achieve a flow state, the experience of being "in the zone" and fully immersed in an activity.
Core idea of the Goldilocks Rule:
Work on challenges of just manageable difficulty- something on the perimeter of your ability- seems crucial for maintaining motivation.
How to Stay Focused When You Get Bored Working on Your Goals
Really successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that they still find a way to show up despite the feelings of boredom. The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. Variable reward, the pace of the reward varies. This variance leads to the greatest spike of dopamine, enhances memory recall, and accelerates habit formation. As habits become routine, they become less interesting and less satisfying.
Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It's the ability to keep going when work isn't exciting that makes the difference. Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.
Chapter 20: The Downside of Creating Good Habits
The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside of habits is that you get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention to little errors.
When you want to maximize your potential and achieve elite levels of performance, you need a more nuanced approach.
Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
Mastery is the process of narrowing your focus to a tiny element of success, repeating it until you have internalized the skill, and then using this new habit as the foundation to advance to the next frontier of your development.
The process of mastery requires that you progressively layer improvements on top of one another, each habit building upon the last until a new level of performance has been reached and a higher range of skills has been internalized.
How to Review Your Habits and Make Adjustments
Reflection and review allows you to remain conscious of your performance over time. Improvement is also about fine-tuning habits.
Author has two primary modes of reflection and review:
Annual Review - reflect on the previous year.
Then reflect on progress by answering three questions:
What went well this year?
What didn't go well this year?
What did I learn?
Integrity Report - which helps him realize where he went wrong and motivates him to get back on course. Use it to revisit core values and considers whether he has been living in accordance with them. And that is when he reflects on his identity and how he can work toward being the type of person he wishes to become.
The yearly Integrity Report Answers three questions:
What are the core values that drive my life and work?
How am I living and working with integrity right now?
How can i set higher standard in the future?
How to Break the Beliefs that Hold You Back
The tighter we cling to an identity (after repeating a habit many times), the harder it becomes to grow beyond it. This is one of the greatest downsides of building habits. One solution is to avoid making any single aspect of your identity an overwhelming portion of who you are. The more you let a single belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you. Redefine yourself such that you get to keep important aspects of your identity even if your particular role changes.
CONCLUSION - The Secret to Results That Last
At some point, you will have to admit that your life was transformed by one small change. It's not a single 1% improvement, but a thousand of them. It's a bunch of atomic habits stacking up, each one a fundamental unit of the overall system.
Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to redefine. Remember, "If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change."
To make your good habits effortless you make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. For making your bad habits more difficult you make them invisible, unattractive, hard, and unsatisfying.
This is a continuous process. There is no finish line. There is no permanent solution. The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements.
That's the power of atomic habits. Tiny changes. Remarkable results.
How to Break a Bad Habit
Inversion of the 1st Law: Make It Invisible
Reduce exposure. Remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment.
Inversion of the 2nd Law: Make It Unattractive
Reframe your min-set. Highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits.
Inversion of the 3rd Law: Make It Difficult
Increase friction. Increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits.
Use a commitment device. Restrict your future choices to be the ones that benefit you.
Inversion of the 4th Law: Make It Unsatisfying
Get an accountability partner. Ask someone to watch your behavior.
Create a habit contract. Make the costs of your bad habits public and painful.
How to Create a Good Habit
The 1st Law: Make it Obvious
Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
Use implementation intentions "I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]."
Use habit stacking: "After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]."
Design your environment. Make cues of good habits obvious and visible.
The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive
Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier
Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsize impact.
Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.
Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying
Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
Make "doing nothing" enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.
Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and "don't break the chain".
Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
Little Lessons from the Four Laws
Problem Phase: (1) Cue (2) Craving
Solution Phase: (3) Response (4) Reward
Awareness comes before desire. A craving is created when you assign meaning to a cue.
Happiness is simply the absence of desire. When you observe a cue, but do not desire to change your state, you are content with the current situation. Happiness is the state you enter when you no longer want to change your state.
It is the idea of pleasure that we chase. We seek the image of pleasure that we generate in our minds.
Peace occurs when you don't turn your observations into problems. The first step in any behavior is observation. You notice a cue, a bit of information, an event. If you do not desire to act on what you observe, then you are at peace.
With a big enough why you can overcome any how. If your motivation and desire are great enough (that is, why you are acting); you'll take action even when it's quite difficult.
Being curious is better than being smart. Being motivated and curious counts for more than being smart because it leads to action.
Emotions drive behavior. Every decision is an emotional decision at some level.
We can only be rational and logical after we have been emotional. The primary mode of the brain is to feel; the secondary mode is to think.
Your response tends to follow your emotions. Our thoughts and actions are rooted in what we find attractive, not necessarily in what is logical. To approach a situation from a more neutral emotional position allows you to base your response on the data rather than the emotion.
Suffering drives progress. The source of all suffering is the desire for a change in state. This is also the source of all progress. The desire to change your state is what powers you to take action.
Your actions reveal how badly you want something. If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don't really want it.
Reward is on the other side of sacrifice. Response (sacrifice of energy) always precedes reward (the collection of resources).
Self-control is difficult because it is not satisfying. A reward is an outcome that satisfies your craving. This makes self-control ineffective because inhibiting our desires does not usually resolve them.
Our expectations determine our satisfaction. The gap between our cravings and our rewards determines how satisfied we feel after tacking action. If the mismatch between expectations and outcomes is positive (surprise and delight), then we are more likely to repeat a behavior in the future. If the mismatch is negative (disappointment and frustration), then we are less likely to do so. Satisfaction = Liking - Wanting.
The pain of failure correlates to the height of expectation. Failing to attain something you want hurts more than failing to attain something you didn't think much about in the first place.
Feelings come both before and after the behavior. Before acting, there is a feeling that motivates you to act-the craving. After acting, there is a feeling that teaches you to repeat the action in the future-the reward.
Cue > Craving (Feeling) > Response > Reward (Feeling)
Desire initiates. Pleasure sustains. Desire and craving are what initiate a behavior. Pleasure and satisfaction are what sustain a behavior. Feeling motivated gets you to act. Feeling successful gets you to repeat.
Hope declines with experience and is replaced by acceptance. Your expectation (cravings) is based solely on promise. The second time around, your expectation is grounded in reality. You begin to understand how the process works and your hope is gradually traded for a more accurate prediction and acceptance of the likely outcome.
It's not necessarily about the goals but rather the process. the system to achieve that goals that makes a difference. The more you do a habit, the more it becomes part of your identity. Showing up and doing the work, even for a small amount of time, is more important to establish the habit than doing a huge amount of effort once in a while.
The backbone of this book is my four-step model of habits—cue, craving, response, and reward—and the four laws of behavior change that evolve out of these steps.