Three Books on Habit Formation That Will Change Your Life

Three of my favorite books: get started by learning about the science behind habits, start small but stay consistent, and enjoy the magic of compounding!

This is a divergence from my usual Substack newsletter- I’m playing around with Revue this week, thanks to their new Twitter integration!

In this issue, I’m introducing you to three books on habit formation that changed my outlook on life. They shaped how I view goals and planning, and after a while of following their ideas, every decision that I take through my day holds a different meaning for me now.

1️⃣ The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

It all started with The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg for me when I learned about how most of what we do in our day is the result of automatic behavior shaped by our habits. It was around the time that I started researching productivity and self-development that I found this book. I was trying to cultivate good habits and I wanted to learn how to build and maintain them. At the time, it was a revelation to me that I didn’t exercise control over chunks of my day when I was essentially living life on autopilot. 

The Power of Habit was one of the first successful books that explored habit formation in detail, and went into the science behind habit formation. Several later books such as Hooked by Nir Eyal and Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood add a few additional insights that are undoubtedly valuable, but they otherwise heavily draw from Charles Duhigg’s work in this book. 

If you’re just getting started with understanding habits better, start with The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

✨ Highlights: 

  • How toothbrushing became a habit because of an ad campaign that targeted consumer habits

  • How room freshener spray became popular after an initial marketing failed miserably

  • How a man whose brain was partly destroyed still continued to live a normal life because of how habits work. 

2️⃣ Atomic Habits by James Clear

For many people, their journey into self-improvement and personal growth started from James Clear’s bestseller book, Atomic Habits. This is a highly famous book that has attracted followers across varied fields. So successful is this book that virtually every page has famous lines that are quoted across social media by people and pages focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, business, health, fitness, finance, and other disciplines.

James Clear takes Duhigg’s cue-craving-response-reward rules of habit formation one step further and lays down the four laws of behavior change:

  1. Make it obvious

  2. Make it attractive

  3. Make it easy

  4. Make it rewarding

The most important contribution that Atomic Habits makes to the productivity discourse is viewing complex, life-changing habits as the smallest and easiest change in behavior that compounds. James Clear insists that we focus not on our goals, but on our systems that inevitably take us to our goals.

If you’d like to instill good habits and get rid of bad ones, learn all about behavior change from Atomic Habits by James Clear

✨ Highlights:

  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

  • To make it easy to perform habits, change your environment- the things around you, the places you visit, and the people you spend time with.

  • Take the focus away from your goal and onto the person this goal needs you to become: what is the identity of the person who achieves this goal?

3️⃣ The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Have you seen the one-percent improvement graph? It shows you what happens at the end of the year when you get better at something by just 1%, versus what happens if you get worse at it by 1% each day. Darren Hardy popularized this through the one-percent rule in his book, The Compound Effect.

Much like Atomic Habits, the focus on this book is also on how small, insignificant actions when performed consistently over time give us unexpected results. Hardy emphasises on the magic of this compounding, or as it calls it, Big Mo’: it’s the sudden momentum that causes trivial and insignificant actions to cause exponential results seemingly overnight when they are repeated consistently over time.

The book is unlike any of the others I’ve read in the self-improvement space and for this it is my favorite: it is action-oriented, reads like a workbook, and is full of exercises that teach you life-changing lessons while also simultaneously pushing you to think and plan to implement them immediately in your life.

If you’re getting bored with your habits and frustrated at not seeing results despite working hard, readThe Compound Effect to learn to be patient and make the changes that you need to see fantastic results and live your best life.

✨ Highlights:

  1. We are programmed for instant gratification, but you don’t see any results from performing an act once. Viewing actions in such isolation is why we quit before reaching the required momentum despite being on the right track, or perform unhealthy actions that wreck our lives.

  2. Big Momentum is the power your habits gain when you perform small actions repeatedly over time. It is the power of compounding and the advantage that you have over others that cannot be defeated.

  3. Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time.

These have been my three highlights from the productivity and personal growth space this week. If you liked what you read, connect with me on Twitter and let me know. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, subscribe to GrowPro Labs here to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

I’m on a mission to make Mondays great, and this newsletter is a part of my efforts in helping you achieve mindful productivity, personal growth, and living your Ikigai.