I found this helpful and insightful.
I see echos of it’s points in books like Exercised that I read later.
He says when setting out to improve ourselves we focus too much on the destination and not enough on the means. He describes habits as a kind of compound interest on beneficial behaviours. Encouraging us to spend more time thinking about how to encourage and maintain those behaviors rather than focusing too much on the results they hope to encourage.
However the trajectory must move towards some goal you can justify. One which is articulated in terms of “who you want to be”. A claim to identity being strong enough to power you though the bad bits.
With that set, it is more a tactical challenge, how do you arrange your environment and life so it is almost more difficult not to maintain the behaviour. His four laws:
- make it obvious
- make it attractive
- make it easy
- make it satisfying
See these through and the behaviour becomes a rote action, one that is harder to break and one which day-by-day will move you closer to what you want and away from what you do not.
I think self help can be a murky genre, but this seemed a plausible description of our behaviours. And a reasonable remedy to do what we can to fix them.
After "Atomic Habits" I read: Quest under Capricorn
Before "Atomic Habits" I read: Bring Up the Bodies