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  • - If we want to change our lives,

  • we're often told that we need to think big,

  • make drastic changes,

  • or perhaps even move across continents,

  • but what if we could achieve major transformations

  • just through small tweaks to our daily routines?

  • We all tend to overestimate the importance of single actions

  • and underestimate the power of making small improvements

  • repetitively over a longer period of time.

  • Real change comes from the compound effects

  • of hundreds of small decisions or small habits that,

  • over time, accumulate to produce remarkable results.

  • Changing the lifestyles, behaviours, and identities.

  • Hey friends, welcome back to the channel

  • and to the second episode of Book Club,

  • a new series where I summarise the key insights and ideas

  • from some of my favourite books,

  • and today we're talking about Atomic Habits by James Clear,

  • which is all about the power and process

  • of building good habits and breaking bad ones.

  • Through examples from sports, business, and education,

  • along with evidence from psychology and neuroscience,

  • the book explains the science and practical implications

  • of how tiny habits and minuscule changes

  • can grow into life-altering outcomes

  • and help us lead healthier, happier,

  • and more productive lives.

  • There's basically four key insights from this book

  • that we're gonna talk about in turn.

  • Firstly we'll talk about the power of

  • one percent changes over time.

  • Secondly, why we should screw goals

  • and focus on systems instead.

  • Thirdly, why it's all about identities rather than outcomes

  • and finally we'll look at what our boy, James, calls

  • the four fundamental laws of behaviour change.

  • So firstly, why does one percent matter?

  • Well, it's all about the power of compounding.

  • Compounding can be amazingly powerful

  • both positively and negatively

  • if we leave it to develop over period of time.

  • If we can get one percent better each day for a year,

  • we'll end up 37 times better by the time we're done

  • but if we get one percent worse each day for one year,

  • we'll go down nearly to zero.

  • As James says in his book, "habits are the compound interest

  • "of self-improvement."

  • Habits don't seem to make much difference on a given day

  • but the impact over months or years

  • can be absolutely enormous.

  • We don't often think about these small changes

  • just because it takes so long to see the result,

  • this is something that I really struggle with

  • and I think this probably applies to everyone.

  • We're so attuned in modern society

  • to try and seek instant gratification

  • that it's actually really hard to focus on things

  • that have long-term benefits.

  • Equally, the slow rate of transformation

  • also means that it's really easy

  • to let bad habits creep in.

  • Like eating badly and not exercising,

  • and when we repeat these one percent errors day after day,

  • they'll accumulate into larger problems.

  • As James says in the book, "time magnifies the margin

  • "between success and failure,

  • "it will multiply whatever you feed it.

  • "Good habits make time your ally,

  • "and bad habits make time your enemy."

  • One of the other key points from our boy, James',

  • analysis of habits, is what he calls

  • the plateau of latent potential.

  • Which sounds all very fancy.

  • Habits often don't seem to make a difference

  • until we cross a critical threshold.

  • We expect progress to be linear

  • but the key aspect of any key compounding process

  • is that the outcomes are delayed.

  • This leads to an initial value of disappointment,

  • where we don't feel like we're making progress

  • as the results don't follow the linear trajectory

  • that we expect, and so we just give up

  • because we're not getting the results we wanted.

  • But as we can see from the graph,

  • it does take time to build a habit

  • to allow the compound interest of self-improvement

  • to take hold and give us amazing results over time.

  • Key point number two from the book

  • is to screw goals and focus on systems instead.

  • James identifies four main problems with goal setting.

  • Firstly, winners and losers have the same goals.

  • Every Olympian wants the gold medal,

  • every candidate wants the job,

  • and so it can't be the goal

  • that actually differentiates people.

  • Secondly, achieving a goal is only a momentary change.

  • Sure, I might be able to pluck up the activation energy

  • to bring myself to clean my room,

  • but if I continue my waste mad habits and systems

  • that led to the room getting messy in the first place,

  • I'm just gonna be left with a messy room again

  • in a few days time.

  • In the same way, when we achieve a goal,

  • we only change our life for the moment.

  • We get these temporary results.

  • Instead, what we really need to change,

  • is the systems that cause those results in the first place.

  • Thirdly, James argues that goals restrict our happiness.

  • There's an implicit assumption behind any goal

  • and that's once I reach my goal, then I'll be happy.

  • And so we end up continuously putting off happiness

  • until the next milestone.

  • Finally, goals are at odds with long-term progress.

  • There's another really nice quote here,

  • "the purpose of setting goals is to win the game,

  • "the purpose of building systems

  • "is to continue playing the game."

  • Like for me, with this YouTube channel,

  • I deliberately don't have any goals for it

  • because what's the point?

  • I might say to myself,

  • "my goal is to hit a million subscribers by next year,"

  • or whatever, but I'm not trying to win YouTube

  • by hitting a certain subscriber count.

  • I just love the process of making these videos

  • and it's fun and it's great

  • and it makes money and it's sustainable

  • and I want to continue playing the game,

  • I don't want to try to win the game.

  • - It's this idea between the system and the goal

  • and say you're playing a sport,

  • in every sport the goal is to have the best score

  • on the scoreboard at the end of the game,

  • but it would be ridiculous to spend all game

  • looking at the scoreboard

  • because it wouldn't help you in any way.

  • So in fact, if you just ignored the score the entire time,

  • and just focused on a better process,

  • or playing a better way, or a better scheme or strategy,

  • then you probably would end up with the best score.

  • I think Bill Walsh, he was the Super Bowl winning

  • head coach for the San Francisco 49ers,

  • he had this quote, "the score takes care of itself."

  • I think that probably applies

  • to a lot of tracking and measuring.

  • So now that we've seen why systems are so important,

  • key point number three is another quote from the book,

  • and that is, "identity change is the North Star

  • "of habit change."

  • We've got outcomes on the outside,

  • concerned with changing the results.

  • And then processes related to our habits and systems,

  • and finally our identity, which is related to our beliefs.

  • Most of us work from outcome to identity

  • rather than identity to outcome

  • but as our boy, James, says,

  • "the ultimate form of intrinsic motivation

  • "is when a habit becomes part of our identity."

  • When we solve problems in terms of outcomes and results,

  • we only solve them temporarily.

  • But to solve problems in the longer term,

  • at the systems level we need to change our identity.

  • This point really resonates with me

  • when I first read the book.

  • I've been struggling personally

  • with A, eating healthily,

  • and B, going to the gym for the last several years,

  • and before I used to have an outcomes-based way

  • of looking at this.

  • So I used to think, I want to get rid of my belly fat,

  • therefore I'm gonna follow Tim Ferriss' low-carb diet.

  • Therefore I'll be a healthy person.

  • But since reading the book,

  • I know have more of an identity-based approach

  • to looking at this.

  • So I try to think in my head,

  • I'm a healthy person, therefore, as a healthy person,

  • I will eat wholesome food and exercise regularly

  • and then one day maybe I'll look like Zac Efron,

  • we'll see how that goes.

  • And finally, point number four,

  • at this point we're thinking,

  • okay cool, I'm sold on the idea of building useful habits.

  • I'm sold on the idea that it's all about tiny improvements

  • over a very long time,

  • and that it's all about systems rather than goals.

  • But how do we actually build those habits

  • in the first place?

  • How do we overcome the difficulty?

  • Well I'm glad you asked

  • because we can actually split up the process

  • of building habits into four stages,

  • cue, craving, response, and reward.

  • The cue triggers the brain to initiate an action,

  • the craving provides the motivational force,

  • the response is the action or habit that we perform,

  • and the reward is the end goal.

  • And it's these four things,

  • cue, craving, response, and reward,

  • which leads to what James Clear calls,

  • the four laws of behaviour change.

  • The first law is make it obvious,

  • and it relates to designing our environment around our cues.

  • I applied this to my life just the other day actually.

  • So, for the last year plus, I've been taking a tablet

  • called Finasteride to combat my hair loss,

  • and in fact, people have been commenting on the videos,

  • Ali, your hair looks thicker.

  • So thank you.

  • But recently I realised I was vitamin D deficient as well

  • because I spent way too much time in front of a computer

  • and don't ever leave the house,

  • and so I got all these vitamin D tablets,

  • but I kept on forgetting to take them,

  • and I realised, the reason I kept forgetting to take them

  • is because they were on the other side of the kitchen,

  • to my Finasteride that I take every day as a habit.

  • And so, all I did was I moved the vitamin D tablets

  • over to the other side of the kitchen,

  • and now I see them in front of my Finasteride,

  • and therefore I take both tablets every night.

  • So just a little change

  • that has now built that habit almost immediately.

  • - Kind of the principle of environment design, in general,

  • which is, you want to put fewer steps

  • between you and the good behaviours,

  • and more steps between you and the bad ones.

  • And imagine the cumulative impact

  • of living in an environment that exposes you

  • to the cues of the positive habits

  • and reduces the cues of your negative habits.

  • It's kind of like you're just gently being nudged

  • in the right direction each day.

  • - The second law is make it attractive,

  • which relates to the craving aspect of the habit loop

  • and tries to take advantage of what we know about dopamine.

  • As humans, we're all motivated

  • by the anticipation of reward,

  • so making habits attractive will help us stick to them.

  • And in fact, one of the make it attractive things

  • that I did before going to the gym,

  • is that I started listening to fantasy audio books

  • on Audible, and this would be the perfect time

  • to do an Audible plug, but sadly,

  • no one is sponsoring this video so,

  • I hope you enjoy this ad free experience.

  • The third law is make it easy,

  • and the aim here is to reduce the friction

  • and to prime our environment for the habits

  • that we'd like to develop.

  • There's a phrase that I like that I think I came up with,

  • but I probably actually read it somewhere

  • and then just forgot to cite the source.

  • Anyway, the phrase is that,