The power of Atomic Habits
The power of atomic habit is that you are reading this blog written by someone who identified interest in writing 12 years back but was not able to do anything about it until those atomic changes led to a path.
There is a very good book on Atomic Habits by James Clear where he has explained how our habits shape our identity and our identity shapes our habit. The most effective way to change our habit is to focus not on what we want to achieve, but on who we wish to become. This blog has a synthesis of some points from that book and my own experiences.
So, what took 12 years? I always thought that to achieve a big goal, I need to make big changes in my life, have a discipline, stick to a routine, and write daily. Big changes seem exciting at first, but then multiple negative compounding start. Stress compounds: you feel like stuck in a traffic jam after a while when new ideas do not pop up like before, parenting responsibilities, other job responsibilities. Negative thoughts compound: you start thinking you are not good enough and this goal is too big for you. Outrage compounds: you feel exhausted by starting too much at once that you cannot handle and give up. So, I started doing one extra task each day that were backlogging, not necessarily related to writing, any simple one like clearing clutter in the bedroom before sleeping, initially it felt like an extra effort but slowly it turned into an atomic habit and became a part of me, I was able to do it without even realizing. So, I was able to start my morning better and just a little more organized than before and slowly I started getting 10 min of extra time in my day when I can write. This applies in all fields, whether you want to lose weight or make progress at work. Instead of going on a strict diet to lose weight, just try cutting only one high calorie food item you eat daily. It is hard to appreciate small change as this will not result in immediate transformation, but the compound effect of this habit will lead you to slowly move towards a better diet and better weight, rather than stuck at one place. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.
People think that habits come in their way of living spontaneously and freely. For example, not eating in the night after brushing teeth seems like a dull habit and why not have a late-night snack if hungry. The fact is we form habits with a small effort in the beginning and later your brain and body get tuned according to it. You will not really want to indulge in late night snacks once you form that habit.
Habits become the tasks that gets wired into our brain and it starts implementing these subconsciously and this is how habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, once you have more mental capacity, you can allocate your attention to other tasks. Habits do not limit freedom instead they can increase your freedom. Without good savings habit, you will be struggling with your expenses, without good health habits you will struggle in energy and without good learning habits, you will always feel like you are behind the curve.
Atomic habits are small behaviour that has repeated good enough times and become automatic. Its ultimate resolution is to solve problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.