Atomic Habits: the life-changing million-copy #1 bestseller

Notes & Highlights

Atomic Habits: the life-changing million-copy #1 bestseller

changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.

if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

But when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps—a 1 percent decline here and there—that eventually leads to a problem.

Imagine you are flying from Los Angeles to New York City. If a pilot leaving from LAX adjusts the heading just 3.5 degrees south, you will land in Washington, D.C., instead of New York.

Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be.

Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

if you’re broke, but you save a little bit every month, then you’re on the path toward financial freedom—

Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.

Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.

Knowledge compounds. Learning one new idea won’t make you a genius, but a commitment to lifelong learning can be transformative. Furthermore, each book you read not only teaches you something new but also opens up different ways of thinking about old ideas.17 As Warren Buffett says, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”

Negative thoughts compound. The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish, you see those kind of people everywhere.

If you find yourself struggling to build a good habit or break a bad one, it is not because you have lost your ability to improve. It is often because you have not yet crossed the Plateau of Latent Potential.

Two tectonic plates can grind against one another for millions of years, the tension slowly building all the while. Then, one day, they rub each other once again, in the same fashion they have for ages, but this time the tension is too great. An earthquake erupts.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.19 Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it—but all that had gone before.”

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.

In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.23