Each morning I wake up and make coffee for my wife and myself. I then I intend do some light reading before I “start” my day. Although, sometimes emails or other distractions creep in and avert my attention and intentions. This is the system I have created and it shapes many of my habits.
James teaches, “your habits are shaped by the systems in your life.” His book, Atomic Habits, is a great read. I read it twice in row. Once on Audible and then purchased the Kindle version to read the second time. It is a great book because he addresses the “why” of the issue. Most habit-forming or habit-breaking literature talks about the habit itself. For example, snapping your wrist with a rubber band when you are about to commit a bad habit. This requires you to muster the will power and discipline to work against a habit you formed while lacking will power and discipline. This is like someone with a drinking problem hanging out at the bar and snapping their wrist whenever he has the urge to order a drink.
This is how many of us approach the habits we want to break and the ones we wish to create. We try to manifest will power and discipline. Atomic Habits is great because James Clear teaches us how to create a system to remove our need for heightened will power by breaking the habit down to its basic building blocks: cue, craving, response, and reward.
Cue: Cues are triggers for your brain. These help us to locate potential rewards and they are shaped by how we view them. For example, a text message. To most, it is an alert for an interesting message from a friend. However, the same text message alert on your work phone could be more work from the boss or client. We need to understand the triggers in our life that start the process.
Craving: Cravings are the motivations for the habits themselves. “You do not crave smoking a cigarette, you crave the feeling it provides.” Cravings are activated by certain cues. The sound of a bag of dog food tells your dog its time to eat. The cue activates the craving.
Response: The response is the habit itself. This is what we do every time a cue triggers a craving. By the time we get to this point, it is very tough to stop in our tracks because we want the reward.
Reward: Rewards satisfy our cravings…for a moment. Once the feeling of contentment wears off, the cycle of cue, craving, response, reward starts over.
Atomic Habits goes into great detail on how to re-structure our lives in order to change our environment to avoid the cues in the first place. James goes even further to teach how to create new cues for the habits you actually want. This book has helped me to shift my morning routine (and several others) to remove the cues that averted me from reading and writing and I know you will gain value from it as well.
Get a copy using a link on this page and you will help support this site at no additional cost to you: Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Learn more about my reading habits and tips here.