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August 6, 2019

Atomic Habits Part 3 - Understanding Responses

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Part 3 of the habit loop presented in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. Remember the cycle includes a cue, a craving, a response, and a reward. We’ve covered cue, and craving. Now it’s time for response.

The response is the action taken. It is the habit, the routine, the activity. This action is labeled as a response because it is determined by the cue and the craving.  Positive action leads to positive results. It is really important that we have control of the habit cycle at this level.

Clear has a brilliant solution to it, which is to make the response easy. As humans, we are susceptible to something called the law of least effort. We are evolutionarily hardwired to preserve energy at all costs. This is why we have a natural tendency to prefer procrastinating, and laziness. So, with that in mind, making the behavior easier will help us to perform it more often. It’s not about doing less, it’s about doing more with less effort.

One thing he proposes is the two minute rule. If you want to start something new, keep it at a very small effort level. Instead of running a marathon, start with putting your running shoes on. It’s easier. And the rest of the activity usually follows as a result. The key here is being consistent, because frequency is a leading factor when it comes to habit formation.

And as always, the inversion. What if you want to do less of something bad. Well then you make it harder. You can take the batteries out of your remote if you want to watch less TV, or move the TV all together. By intentionally adding friction to the activity, you are much less likely to do it because it requires the extra work.  This is called using a commitment device, and they work!

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