I’ve said this before, but I am a definite creature of habit. I also get settled into grooves pretty quickly — so time periods like the beginning of the school year are SO important because that’s what will really stick around. Whatever I do now is what I duplicate. Catch me up before 7 am, screens off at 7 pm, asleep at 9 pm. Swimming, walking, laying out my clothes at night. (Surely this will go on all year, right?)
I’ve been controlling the past few weeks in determining what my schedule looks like and how it fits with what I want to do this year. Lucky for me, I also read a ton on habit formation this summer, with some reads that heavily influenced my practices. Some of them were rather self-help-y — hello, I’m a college senior! Self-help books are so the forte right now — while others felt more academic in nature. Your girl loves pop science. And I THRIVE on a daily schedule.
Novel: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink | Goodreads
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don't know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of "when" decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.
Timing, it's often assumed, is an art. In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink shows that timing is really a science.
Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start? Why should we avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon? Why is singing in time with other people as good for you as exercise? And what is the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers, or get married?
This is one of those books that has abstractly snuck into my daily life without me particularly noticing; I’m always (obviously) more inclined to adopt a habit if I know why I’m doing it. While I’m sure some aspects of the book are gimmicky, the case studies and tidbits were exactly the small thrills of information that I like to pick up from books like these. Bits like having caffeine 90 minutes after waking up instead of right after — thank you, summer-induced coffee habit — and the best times to start new practices were familiar but still helpful.
It’s definitely exaggerated at times, in assuming the magnitude of the role of timing in certain decisions, but it’s still pleasant to read, and gave me a small illusion of control over the natural bumps and dips of my day. It’s more of a soft overview of these kinds of topics than a manual, but I loved the ways it made me think about how to arrange my days.
Novel: Atomic Habits by James Clear | Goodreads
Release Date: October 16, 2018
The instant New York Times bestseller
Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
Learn how to:
* make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
* overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
* design your environment to make success easier;
* get back on track when you fall off course;
...and much more.
Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits--whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.
Atomic Habits took a different approach than When, in that it talked about how to form habits rather than specifically which habits to have. Techniques like habit stacking and visual cues helped me to organize a lot of my thoughts about practices I wanted to put into place, and were arranged in a way that made effortless sense. The book fits with the way that I like to learn and change: baby steps. It’s incremental and instructive, including varied perspectives that could appeal to a host of different personalities.
Honestly, the book itself was a lot more valuable than I expected. I’d gone into it expecting a somewhat repetitive, likable but pithy narrative about the importance of habits, but without a whole lot of substance. Instead, Atomic Habits made a ton of excellent points, and backed them up with solid and compelling information.
I also appreciated his emphasis on identity formation — a whole new topic for a blog post! — because that train of thought was one that stimulated a lot of internal debate for me. People reflect your behavior back to you, we fall prey to survivorship bias, etc,. It made the argument that your habits are how you embody your identity. You only believe your identity because you have proof of it.
Most books like this have a tendency to put the tangibles (like activities to put in place) over the much more intangible, but more effective, shift in identity that they require. That’s also why typecasting other people can be so limiting! In that sense, that discussion almost did more for me than the purpose of the book, which was to teach the reader various ways to solidify new routines. There were some one-liner zingers in there as well, which I appreciated.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
It’s a big reminder of the power of the little things, which, if you know me, is a huge part of my philosophy. And it’s a strong indicator of the necessity of the process rather than the result, which is something I’ve often struggled to keep in mind.
There are so many spot-on sections of this book, and gratifying explanations. It also doesn’t restrict itself exclusively to habits, but explores plenty of psychological topics related to our habits. Identity, as mentioned previously, along with instant vs. delayed gratification, the motivation of progress as a concept, environmental influences, the ways we measure ourselves and our worth, etc,. It’s both encouragement and a wake-up call.
I really enjoyed both of these books for different reasons. I’m fascinated by the idea of an “ideal” schedule, although it seems vaguely mythical. I loved the tangibility of habit formation, and the genuine help in how to put new behaviors into place. Overall, Atomic Habits was my favorite, but they’re both good. And although it’s only the second week of school, I haven’t yet “broken the chain” of any of the goals that I’ve tried to initiate — including writing reviews.