I finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear earlier this year and would like to share key learnings that helped me to form a couple of good habits.
James Clear gets to the point of what it takes to build healthy long-lasting habits. One of the ideas he puts forward is the power of compounding effect: changes that seem small and unimportant at any given day will compound into remarkable results, if we are willing to stick with them for months and years.
The book offers very clear and easy steps to create the habits you always wanted to inculcate.
I liked the concept. So, I started applying the advice in my everyday life.
During the day we are on the ‘Dance Floor’. We are in action, doing things. We aren’t in the right mindset to get on the Balcony to take a look around and get an overview. I had to find the time to go to the Balcony to think, learn and adjust.
I’m not a morning person. Waking up early has always been a struggle. I adjusted my evening routine so that I could get up a bit earlier the next day and have time for a morning walk (especially important while working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and daily reflections.
The routine is simple and similar to a retrospective session:
- Write up events that happened on the day.
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well? How could this have been prevented? How to mitigate the situation if it has already occurred in the past?
- What do I need to explore/learn next?
It helped me to create the time and space to plan for achieving my long-term professional and personal goals and to live a meaningful life.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”
Creating and editing content daily
This blog post is the result of forming a habit to write every day (ok-ok! almost every day). Daily, I allocate 5–10 min for writing, editing and tweaking sentences. Doesn’t seem like a lot but it all adds up in the end.
Using this method, I finally finished and published an article “How THE ICONIC continuously improves customer experience”. Previously, it was sitting in my drafts folder for about six months because I couldn’t find a block of 2 hours to polish it.
Capturing my daily reflections, publishing blog posts and tweets help me to improve my writing. Writing clearly and concisely is a great skill that I’d like to possess. Even though English is my second language, I’m up for the challenge!
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results”
Reading in Russian with my daughters
“Atomic Habits” helped to develop my favourite new habit. The one that I pursue for the benefit of my daughters rather than for myself.
For years, I struggled to get them practising reading in Russian. It’s hard to carve out half an hour during a workweek while you have other things going on, on a regular basis. On weekends, it is even more challenging since everybody wants to relax, chill out and do fun things together.
Following the advice from the book, I thought I’d start reading Russian for just a couple of minutes every day with each daughter. It felt achievable. There were no excuses.
The girls were very supportive of this idea too because two minutes didn’t sound like a big deal.
Forming a habit
So we began.
The going was slow in the beginning. During the first week, they had to write all the Russian alphabets they couldn’t remember. We had just enough time to finish a sentence. It felt like a useless exercise. “They can’t learn anything in just two minutes per day,” I said to myself but kept going. I’m glad I did.
During the third week, they didn’t ask me about any of the Russian alphabets — they memorised them all. Their reading speed started to pick up and we were able to finish a paragraph within minutes.
Then, I noticed both of them wouldn’t stop reading after the daily time was up. They were genuinely interested in the stories and kept going.
In addition, I have now introduced them to a new concept — User Experience — that I’d love them to learn while still at school. Again, just for a couple of minutes after reading in Russian. One day at a time.
We are building a new habit together. It’s rewarding and feels amazing. It also helps us to bond and spend more quality time together.
“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”
It’s Your Turn
“Atomic Habits” is a good read. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to develop new good habits. Give it a go!
Btw, here’s how I developed my reading habit.
Feel free to get in touch on Twitter if you have any questions or find yourself stuck!