Atomic Habits Chapter 20

Why our brains love habits

We have habits for a reason. But they have their limitations.

The upside

Habits let us perform reoccurring tasks automatically – literally without thinking. This conserves mental energy.

The downside

If you aren’t thinking about it, you aren’t thinking about it. That means that you aren’t paying attention. And if you aren’t paying attention, your performance can actually decline. Have you ever been driving and missed your turn (or taken the wrong turn) because you were on autopilot?


Mastery requires deliberate practice. Basic repetition isn’t going to get it done.

Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery

Review & reflection

Deliberate practice has a few key elements:

  • Decide on your metrics
  • Measure your metrics
  • Review your findings

It’s simple but it’s easy to forget.

Improvement is not just about learning habits, it’s also about fine-tuning them.

Some people want their reviews to be so complete, that they keep a decision journal.


Repeating a habit is essential to build up evidence of your desired identity.

The problem is that your new identity might be in conflict with your old identity (or aspects of it). Advice: make your identity fluid.

Key takeaways and implementation

Give your habits the attention they deserve.

  • If it’s unimportant, let it run on autopilot.
  • If it is important, you need to have some system to ensure it’s running properly.
  • If your goal is mastery, you must measure and monitor your process and progress.


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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