Atomic Habbits

obvious, easy, attractive, satisfying

To change habits successfully, you must:

  • Change the right habits; and
  • Change habits the right way.

To change the right habits, focus on identity (who) and processes (how), not outcomes (what):

  • Outcomes are what you get (What: “”).
  • I want to read books

  • Processes are what you do (How: “”).
  • I’ll read every day

  • Identity is what you believe about yourself (Who: “”).
  • I am a reader

Every moment, every choice drives a powerful feedback loop where:

  • Your habits shape your identity; and
  • Your identity shapes your habits.

New identities require new evidence. To change yours, first ask:

  • “then
  • What kind of outcomes do I want?”

  • “then
  • What kind of person do I want/need to become?”

  • “”
  • What quick wins/habits can I work on to reinforce those beliefs?

Then get to work and correct your trajectory every day by asking:

  • “Am I becoming the type of person I want to become?”; and
  • “What would the kind of person I want to become do in this situation?”

To change habits the right way, make good/bad:

  1. Cues: Obvious/invisible;
  2. Cravings: Attractive/unattractive;
  3. Responses: Easy/hard;
  4. Rewards: Satisfying/unsatisfying

NOTE: Before you change anything, use a habits scorecard to build awareness of existing responses:

  • Point-and-call – Write a granular list of your daily habits;
  • Evaluate net long-term outcomes – Label each habit as good (+), bad (-) or neutral (=);

Then re-arrange, add to and design new, written plans of action by:

  • Setting clear implementation intentions:
    • “I will [BEHAVIOUR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]”.
  • Habit stacking:
    • “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]”; or
    • “When I [ACTION], I will [NEW HABIT]”.

TIP: Make your new habits as specific as possible (what, when, how, how much).

Then to maximise your odds of success…

1 – How to make habits obvious/invisible:

Pick existing cues that:

  • Occur with the same frequency (daily, weekly, monthly) as your desired new habit; and
  • Are highly specific and immediately actionable.

(Re-)design cues to be:

  • Visual – Vision is our most powerful sense; and
  • Obvious – Make it easy to spot them

Engineer your environment to minimise reliance on will-power and self-control:

  • Move yourself someplace without competing/undesirable cues;
  • Remove competing/undesirable cues from your environment;
  • Fill your environment with your new/desirable cues; and
  • Avoid creating contexts that trigger multiple habits.

2 – How to make habits attractive/unattractive:

Combine habit stacking with temptation bundling to pair actions you want with actions you need:

  1. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].
  2. After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].

Proactively manage band-wagon effect:

  • Be aware that you have a strong natural desire to conform with:
    • The close – the people directly around you;
    • The many – the culture/society you immerse yourself in; and
    • The powerful – the successful people you look up to.
  • Use this to your advantage. Proactively join groups where:
    • Your desired behaviour is already a norm; and
    • You have something in common with the group.


  • Good habits – to highlight benefits (“I get to”) instead of drawbacks (“I have to”).
  • Bad habits – to highlight drawbacks instead of benefits.

Use motivation rituals:

  • Practice doing something enjoyable before a difficult habit; then later
  • Use the enjoyable action to trigger cravings for the difficult habit.

3 – How to make taking action easy:

Show up and get started.

  • The best way to start, is to start;
  • Don’t get caught up in planning or perfectionism;
  • Identify and start with the easy, 2-minute version, then build on those wins.

Engineer your environment to make it easy to perform good habits:

  • List and take any one-time actions that will pay-off again and again;
  • Schedule habits for times and places that fit easily into your existing routine;
  • Organise and lay out what you need in advance so it’s easy to access;
  • Use technology to automate/incentivise good behaviour.

(Do the opposite to make it harder to perform bad habits)

Examples of decreasing (↓) and increasing (↑) friction:

  • ↓ Lay your gym clothes out the night before;
  • ↓ Prep healthy foods/snacks on the weekend;
  • ↓ Pay for a gym session ahead of time;
  • ↓ Automate e.g., prescriptions, savings, meal delivery;
  • ↑ Leave your phone in a different room;
  • ↑ Delete social media apps and games;
  • ↑ Take the batteries out of your remote control;
  • ↑ Put your WiFi router on an outlet timer.

4 – How to make habits satisfying:

Reinforce good behaviour with instant and pleasurable rewards.

  • EITHER make the action itself satisfying and pleasurable e.g.,
    • Invest in tools that are satisfying to use;
    • Make progress satisfying and visual (e.g., with habit trackers); or
    • Design the habit so it’s satisfying to perform.
  • OR instantly reward yourself for taking the desired action e.g.,
    • Transfer money towards buying something you want; or
    • Treat yourself to something you enjoy.

(Note: Be sure the reward doesn’t conflict with your identity or another habit e.g., getting a bowl of ice-cream when you’re trying to lose weight)

Use accountability partners to create immediate social rewards/costs for taking action.

Use a formal habit contract to strengthen (dis)incentives:

  • Set (e.g., financial) penalties for performing bad habits/missing targets;
  • Put the criteria and penalties down in writing; and
  • Find a judge to co-sign and hold you accountable to the contract.

Keep streaks alive by rebounding quickly when your habits break down:

  • Don’t think “all or nothing” –  is always better than
  • something


  • Never miss twice – make a commitment to never miss two repetitions in a row.

8 – How can I stay motivated when building habits?

When you start a new habit, make it easy so you’re more likely to stick with it.

As you start learning a habit, get into flow by aiming for The Goldilocks Zone.

  • Review and adjust the challenge so it sits on the perimeter of your ability;
  • Aim for a 50/50 ratio between failure and reward.

As you approach habit mastery:

  • Show up and keep going even when the work isn’t exciting.
    • Don’t be an amateur – don’t let “” get in the way of your progress.
    • life

    • Be a professional – show up and stick to the schedule even if your don’t feel like it.
  • Reflect and review regularly; ask:
    • “”
    • What went well?

    • “”
    • What didn’t go well?

    • “”
    • What did I learn?

Once you’ve mastered a habit:

  • Master the next one; practice new habits deliberately until you master the field;
  • Redefine and expand your sense of identity:
    • “” → “”
    • I am an athlete

      I’m the type of person who is mentally tough and loves physical challenges.

    • “” → “”
    • I am a CEO

      I’m the type of person who builds and creates things.

And finally, manage your expectations:

  • Habits take compounding effort and produce compounding results;
  • The most powerful outcomes in compounding are delayed;
  • Accept that noticeable change can take years, until you cross a critical threshold…
  • …before it happens all at once.