This is an Atomic Habits book review.
Yep. Out of 365 I went out running on 278 days and ran for 1505.34 kms. Only took breaks when it was pouring rain outside, or when it was impossible to go running due to bad health or being out of station. Had to miss running in the beginning of December for more than 12 days straight because of getting hit by a bike whilst running (welcome to running situation in cities with not many running tracks!!).
This should tell you how much I love running. Every day I wake up and go for a run. My inspiration for daily running comes from Casey Neistat and I’ve been consistently running since 2017. I ran about 400 kms in 2018, 600+ kms in 2019, 900 kms in 2020 and 1200+ kms in 2021. This year my goal is to run about 2000 kms and I’ve already completed about 777+ kms by 20th May.
Btw you must watch this video by Casey if you ever feel like you need a motivation to start running!!
I always listen to podcasts and audio books while running (and sometimes Eminem songs too!). One of the books I listened to while running this year was Atomic Habits by James Clear. Being able to keep up my running persistently with self-discipline, I didn’t need help from the book, but was curious about why was there all that buzz around it in the last year.
After listening to it, I could draw many parallels between the techniques discussed by the author and the ones I use to keep up with my various habits. The book might seem like a very obvious narrative for those who are self-motivated and disciplined, but the techniques and examples the author talks about are all highly accurate and immediately actionable.
If someone is really interested in building good habits in personal or professional life, but don’t know how to start, they can definitely start with this book. Obviously, the author can explain it to you but he can’t understand it for you, and surely can’t put it in practice for you.
Here are a few takeaways I found valuable from this book:
You don’t have to drastically change all your habits that’ll suddenly transform your life. A small change at a time is all it takes to make progress. To quote the author: “Habits are, simply, reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment.”
An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system.
Goals vs System
When you set goals you are thinking about the results you want to achieve, however in order to achieve those goals you have to set a system which is about the processes that lead to those results. You define your goals to set a direction to head towards, but once you have set those goals you should immediately stop focusing on the goal and dedicate all your attention towards a system that will take you to that goal instead.
This is key because, as a general human tendency, we can’t stay focused on goals for a long time, no matter how serious you are about that goal. But if you set up a system, once it becomes a habit, you’ll have a hard time getting rid of that habit and eventually it’ll take you to your goal.
In January I saw this difference first hand while going for a run every morning. Out of numerous people who had started running/ jogging/ working out in the garden in the first week of January, more than half had disappeared or became inconsistent already in a week. On the other hand, there are many who I’ve been seeing for many years everyday are still consistent.
Choose a habit that suits you
Just because I enjoy running every day doesn’t mean you have to do the exact same thing. There’s a lot of people who dislike running and some just hate running. If the end goal is getting fitter and healthier, there are so many ways that you can go to achieve that.
Fitness is one example, but for any of your desired output, you must make sure that you’re not just trying to get in some habit that is not suitable for your personality type.
Small habits don’t add, they compound
Habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. If you look at my running stats, in 2018 I only ran 400 kilometres but gradually over the years I’ve increased my daily run to almost 8+ kms without a break and I run about 10 on a good day.
If you’ve tried to do any physical exercise over a considerable period of time, like push-ups or pull-up, you’d have noticed this. In the first week it seems impossible to do even 10 in a row, and going from 0 to 10 takes way more time than it takes for 10 to 25 and so on.
A person you wish to become
Author says “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” This resonates with me the most. All the numeric goals and achievements don’t carry as much weight as the idea of what kind of body I wish to maintain.
I want to maintain a level of fitness where I can complete any trek without a problem and most importantly be able to eat whatever I want to eat without ever feeling guilty.
By getting up and starting to run every morning, I tell my body that I’m going to make a positive effort in that direction.
Be an architect of your environment
I have come across a lot of people who talk to me about my running and why they couldn’t maintain their fitness. I will not downplay all the reasons that they give for that, but it’s upon them to choose whether to be put down by the obstacles or rise despite them.
If any internal or external factors are proving to be challenging in your journey to persistence of a habit, it is upon you to eliminate it or accept defeat.
Apart from these takeaways, here are a few things of my own about maintaining health with good habits that I’d want you to consider:
You can’t manifest health and fitness!!
There are many things that you can pretend to have or fake it till you make it, but a good health is not one of them. You can’t just utter positive affirmation at the mirror and expect to get healthier in a month. It takes hard work of years and control on the eating habits to get in a good shape and maintain it.
Never miss two days in a row!!
I adopted this principle from Matt D’Avella and it’s been of great help to keep many of my habits for years. The two day rule simply states that you can’t miss two days in a row for any habit. I implement it very rigorously in my running. Unless I’m travelling or sick I never take two days off in a row. Of course, there are some exceptions to it, like family functions or heavy rains, but as far as possible I stick to the rule and does wonders.
The external accountability
I take a screenshot of my daily run stats and post them on my Instagram stories everyday. Now, some of the people that see this must be thinking of it as bragging, but posting daily stories brings in a great advantage of a few people checking up on me on the day I miss running if I don’t post a story. More importantly, posting these stories has inspired at least 4 people that I know of to take some action towards adopting healthier habits and in effect getting fit over time.
Finally, even though this is a book review for Atomic Habits, I strongly recommend that you read the book for yourself, because I only cover the points that are relatable to me. When you will read the book you relate the points in the book with your life and hence it’ll be more effective.
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