Atomic Habits Summary

  • by
Spread the love

Atomic Habits Summary

What message does the book has to convey

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The real reason these atomic habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your
beliefs about yourself.

The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use
to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it
attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.

Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act.The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.

Lesson 1- The Surprising Power Of Atomic Habits

  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. As money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day, and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.
  • A slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination. 

  • Habits are a double-edged sword. Bad habits can cut you down just as easily as good habits can build you up, which is why understanding the details is crucial.

Effect of atomic habits


  • Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a significant change. 

  • It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.

  • People make a few minor changes, fail to see a tangible result and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside.
  • But to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau called the Plateau of Latent Potential. 

  • Complaining about not achieving success despite working hard is like complaining about an ice cube not melting when you heated it from twenty-ve to thirty-one degrees. Your work was not wasted; it is just being stored to show the result at the right time. All the action happens at thirty-two degrees. 

plateau of latent potential


  • A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.
  • If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

  • Atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results

Lesson 2 -How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)

  • Changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: (1) we try to change the wrong thing, and (2) we try to change our habits in the wrong way
  • Our first mistake is that we try to change the wrong thing.To understand this, consider that there are three levels at which change can occur-

  • The first layer is changing your outcomes: This level is concerned with changing your results.

  • The second layer is changing your process. This level is concerned with changing your habits and systems.

  • The third and deepest layer is changing your identity. This level is concerned with changing your beliefs.

  • Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe

    the problem is not that one level is “better” or “worse” than another. All levels of change are helpful in their own way. The problem is the direction of change.

three layers of behaviour change
  • Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads us to outcome-based habits.
  • The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become.

  • Behind every system of actions is a system of beliefs.
  • There are a set of beliefs and assumptions that shape the system, an identity behind the habits.

  • The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it. 

  • True behaviour change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.



  • When you make your bed each day, you embody the identity of an organized person. When you write each day, you embody the identity of a creative person.. The more you repeat a behaviour, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behaviour.

  • Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. 

  • The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
  • It is a simple two-step process: 1. Decide the type of person you want to be. 2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Lesson-3 How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps

  • An atomic habit is a behaviour that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.

  • There is a feedback loop behind all human behaviour: try, fail, learn, try differently. So Whenever you face a problem repeatedly, your brain begins to automate the process of solving it.
  • Your habits are just a series of automated solutions that solve the problems and stresses you face regularly.

  • Habits are mental shortcuts learned from experience. In a sense, a habit is just a memory of the steps you previously followed to solve a problem in the past.

  • Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. The people who don’t have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom. Without good financial habits, you will always be struggling for the next dollar. 


  • The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

habit loop
  • The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behaviour. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward.

  • Cravings are the second step, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. 

    Cues are meaningless until they are interpreted. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the observer are what transform a cue into a craving. 

  • Response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action.

  • The rewards  are the end goal of every habit. 

    We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us, and (2) they teach us.

  • In summary, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately becomes associated with the cue. Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response,reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits. This cycle is known as the habit loop.
four stages of atomic habits

How to Create a Good Habit

simply ask yourself:

  • How can I make it obvious? 
  • . How can I make it attractive?

  • How can I make it easy? 

  • How can I make it satisfying?

  • The key to creating good habits and breaking bad ones is to understand these fundamental laws and how to alter them to your specifications. 

    Every goal is doomed to fail if it goes against the grain of human nature.

Lesson-4 The Man Who Didn't Look Right

  • A human brain is a prediction machine. It is continuously taking in your surroundings and analyzing the information it comes across.

  • With enough practice, you can pick up on the cues that predict specific outcomes without consciously thinking about them. Automatically, your brain encodes the lessons learned through experience.

  • You do not tell your hair to grow, your heart to pump, or your lungs breathe. And yet your body handles all this and more on autopilot. You are much more than your conscious self.

  • One of the most surprising insights about our habits: you don’t need to be aware of the cue for a habit to begin. This is what makes habits worthwhile. 

  • For this reason, we must begin the process of behaviour change with awareness

    the psychologist Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” 


  • One of our most significant challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are doing. We need a “point-and-call” system for our personal lives.

    That’s the origin of the Habits Scorecard, which is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your habits.

  • Scoring your habits can be a bit more complex for another reason as well. The labels “good habit” and “bad habit” are slightly inaccurate. There are no good habits or bad habits. There are only effective habits. That is effective at solving problems.

Lesson-5 The Best Way to Start a New Habit

  • The cues that can trigger a habit come in a wide range of forms, but the two most common cues are time and location. 

  • Implementation intentions leverage both of these cues. The format for creating an implementation intention is: “When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.”

  • Hundreds of studies have shown that implementation intentions are effective for sticking to our goals.

  • The punch line is clear: people who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through. Too many people try to change their habits without these basic details figured out. We tell ourselves, “I’m going to eat healthier” or “I’m going to write more,” but we never say when and where these habits will happen.

  • Many people think they lack motivation when what they lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. 

  • The goal is to make the time and location so evident that, with enough repetition, you get an urge to do the right thing at the right time, even if you can’t say why


  • The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption that leads to additional purchases.

  • When it comes to building new habits, you can use the connectedness of behaviour to your advantage. 

  • One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top. This is called habit stacking. 

    The more tightly bound your new habit is to a specific cue, the better the odds are that you will notice when the time comes to act. 

habit stacking

Lesson 6 -Motivation Is Overrated; Environment Often Matters More

  • People often choose products not because of what they are but because of where they are. If I walk into the kitchen and see a plate of cookies on the counter, I’ll pick up half a dozen and start eating, even if I hadn’t been thinking about them beforehand.

  • Despite our unique personalities, certain behaviours tend to arise again and again under certain environmental conditions.

  • The truth, however, is that many of the actions we take each day are shaped not by purposeful drive and choice but by the most apparent option.

    You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.


  • Unfortunately, the environments where we live and work often make it easy not to do specific actions because there is no obvious cue to trigger the behaviour. It’s easy not to practice the guitar when it’s tucked away in the closet. When the cues that spark a habit are subtle or hidden, they are easy to ignore.

  • Our behaviour is not defined by the objects in the environment but by our relationship with them

    Stop thinking about your environment as filled with objects. Start thinking about it as filled with relationships. Think in terms of how you interact with the spaces around you.

  • Different people can have different memories —and thus different habits—associated with the same place.

  • It is easier to associate a new habit with a new context than to build a new habit in the face of competing cues

Lesson- 7 The Secret to Self-Control

  • “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. Once a habit has been encoded, the urge to act follows whenever the environmental cues reappear. 

  • You can break a habit, but you’re unlikely to forget it. Once the mental grooves of habit have been carved into your brain, they are nearly impossible to remove entirely.
  • A more reliable approach is to cut bad habits off at the source. One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it. 

Rather than make it obvious, you can make it invisible.

  • Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one. The secret to self-control is to Make the cues of your good habits obvious and the cues of your bad habits invisible

Lesson-8 How to Make a Habit Irresistible

  • It’s like the brain of each animal is preloaded with certain rules for behaviour, and when it comes across an exaggerated version of that rule, it lights up like a Christmas tree. Scientists refer to these exaggerated cues as supernormal stimuli.

  • Make it attractive. The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming.


  • You’re more likely to find a behaviour attractive if you get to do one of your favourite things simultaneously. Maybe you want to get a pedicure, but you need to clean out your email inbox. Solution: only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.

Lesson-9 The Role of Family and Friends in Shaping Your Habits

“A genius is not born but is educated and trained.”


  • We don’t choose our earliest habits; we imitate them. All of us the script handed down by our friends and family, our church or school, our local community and society at large. 

  • You’re always keeping them in mind, even if they are at the not top of your mind. Often, you follow the habits of your culture without thinking, without questioning, and sometimes without remembering .

       We imitate the habits of three groups in particular:

  • Imitating the Close-We pickup habits of the people around us. One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.

  • Imitating the Many-The human mind knows how to get along with others. This is our natural mode. You can override it—you can choose to ignore the group or to stop caring what other people think—but it takes work.
  • Imitating the Powerful

    We are drawn to behaviours that earn us respect, approval, admiration, and status. This is one reason we care so much about the habits of highly effective people. We try to copy the behaviour of successful people because we desire success ourselves.

  • One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to
    join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior
    and (2) you already have something in common with the group.  

Lesson-10 How to Find and Fix the Causes of Your Bad Habits

  • Every behaviour has a surface level craving and a deeper, underlying motive. A craving is just a specific manifestation of a deeper underlying motive.
  • For example-Your the brain did not evolve with a desire to smoke. At a deep level, you simply want to reduce uncertainty and relieve anxiety, to win social acceptance and approval, or to achieve status.

  • Our behaviour is heavily dependent on how we interpret the events that happen to us. The same cue can spark a good habit or a bad habit depending on your prediction.

  • Reframing your atomic habits to highlight their benefits rather than their drawbacks is a fast and lightweight way to reprogram your mind and make a habit seem more attractive. 

  • Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and
    unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings. Create a motivation ritual by doing something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.

Lesson-11 Walk Slowly, but Never Backward

  • We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.
  • This can be explained in terms of motion and action. When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behaviour that will deliver an outcome.

    Eg-If I actually sit down and write an article, that’s action. If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion.

  • Sometimes motion is useful, but it will never produce an outcome by itself. Only the action of working out will get the result you’re looking to achieve. 
  • Master a habit. The key is to start with repetition, not perfection.

    With each repetition, cell-to-cell signalling improves, and the neural connections of the brain tighten. this phenomenon is commonly known as Hebb’s Law: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”


In practice, it doesn’t matter how long it takes for a habit to become automatic. What matters is that you take the actions you need to take to make progress.

Lesson-12 The Law of Least Effort

  • our real motivation is to be lazy and do what is convenient.
  • The brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible. It is human nature to follow the Law of Least Effort, which states that when deciding between two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.

  • You don’t want the habit itself. What you want is the outcome the habit delivers. The less friction you face, the easier it is for your stronger self to emerge. 

  • When we remove the points of friction that sap our time and energy, we can achieve more with less effort: greater the friction, the less likely the habit.

  • Redesign your life, so the actions that matter most are also the actions that are easiest to do.Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible


Lesson-13 How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the Two-Minute Rule

  • The  Two-Minute Rule states, “When you start a new habit, it should
    take less than two minutes to do.”
  • Atomic habits are automatic choices that influence the conscious decisions that follow.
  • Habits are like the entrance ramp to a highway. They lead you down a path and, before you know it, you’re speeding toward the subsequent behaviour.
  • We are limited by where our habits lead us. That is why mastering the decisive moments throughout your day is so important.

Lesson-14 How to Make Good Habits Inevitable and Bad Habits Impossible

  • Sometimes success is less about making good habits easy and more about making bad habits hard.

  • The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impractical to do. Increase

    the friction until you don’t even have the option to act.

  • When working in your favour, automation can make your good habits inevitable and your bad habits impossible.

  • Using technology to automate your habits is the most reliable and
    effective way to guarantee the right behavior.

  • When working in your favour, automation can make your good habits inevitable and your bad habits impossible.



Lesson-15 The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change

  • Pleasure teaches your brain that behaviour is worth remembering and repeating.

  • What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided. 

  • The first three laws of behaviour change—make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy—increase the odds that a behaviour will be performed this time.

  • The fourth law of behaviour change—make it satisfying—increases the odds that a behaviour will be repeated next time.
  • A reward that is certain right now is typically worth more than one that is merely possible in the future. But occasionally, our bias toward instant

    gratification causes problems.

  • With our bad habits, the immediate outcome usually feels good, but the outcome feels bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: the primary outcome is unenjoyable, but the outcome feels good.

  • The more a habit becomes part of your life, the less you need outside encouragement to follow through. A habit needs to be enjoyable for it to last.

Lesson-16 How to Stick with Good Habits Every Day

  • A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit.The most basic format is to get a calendar and cross off each day you stick with your routine.

  • Habit tracking is robust because it leverages multiple Laws of Behavior Change. It simultaneously makes a behaviour obvious, attractive, and satisfying.

  • “Don’t break the chain” is a powerful mantra.

  •  You are with your habits; it is inevitable that life will interrupt you at some point. Perfection is not possible.

  • The_first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of

    repeated mistakes that follows. 


Lesson-17 How an Accountability Partner Can Change Everything

  • Just as we are more likely to repeat an experience when the ending is

    satisfying, we are also more likely to avoid an experience when the ending is painful

    Pain is an effective teacher. When the consequences are severe, people learn quickly.

  • As soon as actions incur an immediate consequence, behaviour begins to change. Customers pay their bills on time when they are charged a late fee.

  • To make bad habits unsatisfying, your best option is to make them painful in the moment. 

  • Creating a habit contract is a straightforward way to do exactly that.

  • An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us.

Lesson-18 The Truth About Talent (When Genes Matter and When They Don't)

  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. Our environment determines the suitability of our genes and the utility of our natural talents. 

  • The people at the top of any competitive field are not only well trained,

    they are also well suited to the task. 

  • Genes do not determine your destiny rather they determine your areas of opportunity.

  • You don’t have to build the habits everyone tells you to build. Choose the habit that best suits you, not the one that is most popular.

  • People who are talented in a particular area tend to be more competent at that task and are then praised for doing a good job.

  • Pick the right habit, and progress is easy. Pick the bad habit and life is a struggle.

  • As you explore different options, there are a series of questions you can ask yourself to continually narrow in on the habits and areas that will be most satisfying to you.

     1.What feels like fun to me, but work to others?

     2.What makes me lose track of time?

     3.Where do I get greater returns than the average person?

     4.What comes naturally to me?

  • If you can’t find a game where the odds are stacked in your favour, create one.

  • When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.By combining your skills, you reduce the level of competition.
  • A good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that favours their strengths and avoids their weaknesses.

  • Specialization is a powerful way to overcome the “accident” of bad genetics. The more you master a specific skill, the harder it becomes for others to compete with you.



Lesson-19 The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work

  • The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right
  • Goldilocks Rule remains: working on challenges of just manageable difficulty—something on the perimeter of your ability—seems crucial for maintaining motivation.

  • Successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that they still and a way to show up despite the feelings of boredom.

  • Mastery requires practice
  • The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stop delighting us. The outcome becomes expected.

  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work toward it with purpose; amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life.

  • The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.

  • Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It’s the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference.


Lesson-20 The Downside of Creating Good Habits


  • The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside of habits is that you get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention to little errors.

  • Some research has shown that once a skill has been mastered, there is usually a slight decline in performance over time.

  • Habits are necessary but not sufficient for mastery. What you need is a combination of automatic habits and deliberate practice.

  • The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, then do them the same way every time.

  • When habits work against you, your identity creates a kind of “pride” that encourages you to deny your weak spots and prevents you from truly growing. This is one of the greatest downsides of building habits.

  • The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.

  • When you cling too tightly to one identity, you become brittle. Lose that one thing, and you lose yourself.

  • Everything is impermanent.

  • Life is constantly changing, so you need to periodically check in to see if your old habits and beliefs are still serving you .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *