Atomic Habits Chapter 19

It takes hard work

If you want to be good at something, you have to work hard. If you can do that, you’ve passed the 1st test.

You need challenging work, not hard work

Hard work sucks. The funny thing is that easy work sucks, too.

James Clear compares it to playing tennis with Serena Williams and a 4-year-old. If you’re a tennis player of average skill, neither of those scenarios is fun.

The trick is to find work that is hard but realistically possible.

The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.

Variable rewards

Gambling (and many video games) keep you interested by using variable rewards. When rewards/victories occur unpredictably, it boosts existing cravings.

Some video games automatically adjust their difficulty to maintain the most addictive levels of challenge and reward.

Do the work

Regardless of all of that, you have to do the work. You have to do the work when you’re excited about it. You have to do the work when you dread it.

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.

Key takeaways and implementation

This short chapter is powerful. But I was left wanting more. (Is that good? Is that bad? Is it both?)

That last quote hints at the power of knowing what is important. Work the System calls it a Strategic Objective. 12 Week Year simply calls them goals. And they are critical to those systems. I wish Clear had talked about it more.

If I had to merge and summarize the ideas, I’d say:

  • Use a big goal to give you direction and an emotional connection to the outcome
  • The emotional connection grants you energy and determination
  • Use that energy and determination to build a habit
  • Use the habit to get you through the times when you are lacking energy and motivation

I also wish Clear had written more about the variable rewards. He doesn’t mention how to use them. Maybe there isn’t a way for an individual to really implement variable rewards for themselves.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Author: James Clear
Amazon rating: 4.8
Amazon price: $14.99
Amazon data gathered on 1Oct2020
Review status: In progress

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