The bat smashed into my face with such force that it crushed my nose into a distorted U-shape. The collision sent the soft tissue of my brain slamming into the inside of my skull.
By this time, the swelling in my brain had become so severe that I was having repeated post-traumatic seizures.
As day faded into night, a series of machines kept me alive. My parents slept restlessly on a hospital mattress—one moment they would collapse from fatigue, the next they would be wide awake with worry. My mother would tell me later, “It was one of the worst nights I’ve ever had.”
[ym]Gosh, I felt deezy just reading that part of the book. I had to stand up and walk a bit. It reminds me of some of my hostpital journey where I fall unconscious, although not as serious as the author's.
While my peers stayed up late and played video games, I built good sleep habits and went to bed early each night. In the messy world of a college dorm, I made a point to keep my room neat and tidy. These improvements were minor, but they gave me a sense of control over my life. I started to feel confident again.
HOW I LEARNED ABOUT HABITS
When my sophomore season arrived, I earned a starting role on the pitching staff. By my junior year, I was voted team captain and at the end of the season, I was selected for the all-conference team. But it was not until my senior season that my sleep habits, study habits, and strength-training habits really began to pay off.
Six years after I had been hit in the face with a baseball bat, flown to the hospital, and placed into a coma, I was selected as the top male athlete at Denison University and named to the ESPN Academic All-America Team—an honor given to just thirty-three players across the country. By the time I graduated, I was listed in the school record books in eight different categories. That same year, I was awarded the university’s highest academic honor, the President’s Medal.
I never ended up playing professionally. However, looking back on those years, I believe I accomplished something just as rare: I fulfilled my potential.
We all face challenges in life. This injury was one of mine, and the experience taught me a critical lesson: changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits. With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.
The only way I made progress—the only choice I had—was to start small. And I employed this same strategy a few years later when I started my own business and began working on this book.
HOW AND WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
In November 2012, I began publishing articles at jamesclear.com. For years, I had been keeping notes about my personal experiments with habits and I was finally ready to share some of them publicly. I began by publishing a new article every Monday and Thursday. Within a few months, this simple writing habit led to my first one thousand email subscribers, and by the end of 2013 that number had grown to more than thirty thousand people.
HOW THIS BOOK WILL BENEFIT YOU
The entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant has said, “To write a great book, you must first become the book.”.
[ym]I can't help but to thing of Peppa Pig quote here: "To be a jumping paddle master, you first need to become the paddle".
Behavioral scientists like Skinner realized that if you offered the right reward or punishment, you could get people to act in a certain way.
But it lacked a good explanation for how our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs impact our behavior.
Human behavior is always changing: situation to situation, moment to moment, second to second. But this book is about what doesn’t change. It’s about the fundamentals of human behavior. The lasting principles you can rely on year after year. The ideas you can build a business around, build a family around, build a life around.
The fundamentals - Why Tiny Changes Make a Big Difference
1. The surprising Power of Atomic Habits
At the time, professional cyclists in Great Britain had endured nearly one hundred years of mediocrity. Since 1908, British riders had won just a single gold medal at the Olympic Games, and they had fared even worse in cycling’s biggest race, the Tour de France. In 110 years, no British cyclist had ever won the event.
In fact, the performance of British riders had been so underwhelming that one of the top bike manufacturers in Europe refused to sell bikes to the team because they were afraid that it would hurt sales if other professionals saw the Brits using their gear.
“the aggregation of marginal gains,” which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do.
“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”
They redesigned the bike seats to make them more comfortable and rubbed alcohol on the tires for a better grip.
to maintain ideal muscle temperature while riding and used biofeedback sensors to monitor how each athlete responded to a particular workout.
The team tested various fabrics in a wind tunnel
But they didn’t stop there. Brailsford and his team continued to find 1 percent improvements in overlooked and unexpected areas. They tested different types of massage gels to see which one led to the fastest muscle recovery.
They hired a surgeon to teach each rider the best way to wash their hands to reduce the chances of catching a cold.
They determined the type of pillow and mattress that led to the best night’s sleep for each rider.
They even painted the inside of the team truck white, which helped them spot little bits of dust that would normally slip by unnoticed but could degrade the performance of the finely tuned bikes.
As these and hundreds of other small improvements accumulated, the results came faster than anyone could have imagined.
Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available. Four years later, when the Olympic Games came to London, the Brits raised the bar as they set nine Olympic records and seven world records.
That same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. The next year, his teammate Chris Froome won the race, and he would go on to win again in 2015, 2016, and 2017, giving the British team five Tour de France victories in six years.
During the ten-year span from 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and sixty-six Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured five Tour de France victories in what is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history.
How does this happen? How does a team of previously ordinary athletes transform into world champions with tiny changes that, at first glance, would seem to make a modest difference at best? Why do small improvements accumulate into such remarkable results, and how can you replicate this approach in your own life?
WHY SMALL HABITS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.
Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, winning a championship, or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
1% BETTER EVERY DAY
1% worse every day for one year. 0.99365 = 00.03
1% better every day for one year. 1.01365 = 37.78
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
We often dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much in the moment.
If you save a little money now, you’re still not a millionaire. If you go to the gym three days in a row, you’re still out of shape. If you study Mandarin for an hour tonight, you still haven’t learned the language. We make a few changes, but the results never seem to come quickly and so we slide back into our previous routines.
Unfortunately, the slow pace of transformation also makes it easy to let a bad habit slide. If you eat an unhealthy meal today, the scale doesn’t move much. If you work late tonight and ignore your family, they will forgive you. If you procrastinate and put your project off until tomorrow, there will usually be time to finish it later. A single decision is easy to dismiss.
But when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps—a 1 percent decline here and there—that eventually leads to a problem.
Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
That said, it doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success.
You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
Habits are a double-edged sword.
YOUR HABITS CAN COMPOUND FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU
Learning one new idea won’t make you a genius, but a commitment to lifelong learning can be transformative. Furthermore, each book you read not only teaches you something new but also opens up different ways of thinking about old ideas. As Warren Buffett says, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
People reflect your behavior back to you. The more you help others, the more others want to help you. Being a little bit nicer in each interaction can result in a network of broad and strong connections over time.
The frustration of a traffic jam. The weight of parenting responsibilities. The worry of making ends meet. The strain of slightly high blood pressure. By themselves, these common causes of stress are manageable. But when they persist for years, little stresses compound into serious health issues.
Negative thoughts compound.
The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish, you see those kind of people everywhere.