This is the second blog after finishing reading “Atomic Habits”. In my last blog, I talked about the “Goal system, not just the goal” and “You are what you repeat,” which are the ideas I got inspired from in the first chapters.
Since then, I have had a goal system such as reading 30 mins every night, so I keep reading.
Here is my continued reflection on the book.
- Compound effect
We may be aware or not aware, there are lots of things that have a compound effect.
When I first began my blog in late 2013, I was not sure how long I could write. As I thought I am not the kind of person, who likes to write. I started to write only because of a sole reason: I needed to improve my writing skills before working on my final essay in my MBA program.
I never thought I would become a blogger. I even very rarely wrote in my mother language -Chinese. My Chinese writing skill is quite bad. I can communicate well via speaking or business email with no ambiguity in Chinese. Moreover, I didn’t write in Chinese after graduating from school.
However, after 2 years of blog writing, I started to have the habit of writing to reflect my thoughts, share my opinions or just record my son’s precious growing-up, which is never turning backward,
Now, I have experienced a compound effect; I can write more fluently and faster, as well as having the habit to reflect via writing.
Every time I get inspired, such as when I’m watching a good movie, reading an excellent book, or getting inspired by things in daily life, I would like to write a blog. Till today I have written 76 blogs in my second language. This is my 77th blog,
I would proudly say, this is my compound effect of writing. There are lots of compound effects, as James mentioned in the book. Such as the more we read, the more windows open up for us to think differently; negativity has a compound effect, the more a person thinks he’s useless or stupid, the more chance that person will fail; relationships compound: the more connections with the family, friends or colleagues around you, the more compounded relationships you will get.
I did not know that bamboo grows in this way. According to James, “Bamboo can barely be seen for the first five years as it builds extensive root systems underground before exploding ninety feet into the air within 6 weeks.” Students go to school starting from grade 1 to grade 12 and the university. The learning is a process lasting at least 15-16 years, but after the learning, a student can live the life he/she wants plus fulfilling their dreams. There’s also a saying in Chinese “ Three feet of ice does not result from one day of freezing water.”
- Identity -instead of pursuing a behavior change, it’s more about an identity change.
Instead of reading a book per month, it’s the identity of what type of person you want to be. In fact, I want to become a reader. That’s why I keep reading. Instead of taking online courses every month, what I really want to be is a lifetime learner.
It’s not about locking oneself down to a type of person, it’s more about the person you want to become or explore. It’s hard to change your habits if you think you are not that type of person.
For example, although I feel I am not a sports person, I want to be a person who is active.
- Habit stacking
New habits do not happen overnight; they need continuous stacking. Before I had some practices such as eating unhealthy and I didn’t have a very active lifestyle.
After learning more about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, I started to stack healthy habits such as eating fruit & vegetables every day, going to the gym 3 times a week, and sleeping before 11pm.
I read a book from Juan Yu, a smart young female teacher and Ph.D. in Shanghai, who died at age 33 from breast cancer. The book’s name is “Living is king.” During the cancer treatments, she reflected on the possible causes of her breast cancer; it could be attributed to lots of lousy habit stacking. She mentioned lots of bad habits such as eating unhealthily, sleeping too late, and lack of exercise. I also heard about a young student who was diagnosed with cancer at age 20. According to her mom, she liked deep fried food when she was young, but the parents didn’t let her eat it often. After she left her parents and went to another country to go to university, she ate fried chicken almost every day and worked on assignments until quite late. It’s not proven to say unhealthy food + late sleep will cause disease. However, it’s the lousy habit stacking, which will not lead to a good ending.
- Motivation is overrated; the environment often matters more. If you want behaviors that are stable and predictable, you need an environment that is stable and predictable.
I had the motivation to do exercise after graduating from university. I purchased an annual gym card after becoming a mom. I bought a yoga class membership as I hoped to do yoga often. But none of those habits were consistent and didn’t last long.
Since last year, I go to the gym at least 3 times a week. The reason is that the environment changed. I have a fitness club beside my company.
What matters more is that John’s schedule changed. John’s school bus leaves at 7:30 am every day. And my office hour starts at 9 am. After dropping off John at the school bus, I drive to the fitness club and do exercises. Then I go to work before 9 am.
The environment and John’s school schedule work perfectly well for my gym schedule.
Sometimes I could not achieve my to-do list such as writing a blog or reading a book. The reason is also due to the environment.
In the past, I had my WeChat open when I wrote. I always intended to reply to every message when a new message notification came in.
After I changed my environment, I put my cell phone away when I write or read and I close all the chats. I can concentrate on my to-do list and have it completed most of the time.
Another example is, I like to eat fruit every day but sometimes I forgot to bring some. I learned from this book how to make the environment easier such as chopping a selection of fruit and putting it into boxes in the fridge. The next day, I can just pick up the fruit box with my lunch; then I can have fruit every day easily.
That’s why I suggested to John to move his computer and desk out of his bedroom. His bedroom is only for sleeping and reading before sleep. His personal computer should be only for school work, and his desktop can be for leisure after school work – No chats or games on his own computer so he can separate them out.
Although it’s not happening, I hope once John realizes this, he will have an excellent habit.
According to James, “The most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it.”
- The costs of your good habits are in the present, the value of your bad habits are in the future.
In the book, it mentioned why lots of people have bad habits as lots of bad habits can satisfy the present and the result of the bad habits are in the future.
Smokers are delighted by smoking as they usually feel the stress is released after lighting a cigarette. However, their lungs are seriously deteriorated after years of smoking.
It is difficult to resist the bite of dense sugared and creamed cake, but the more sugar that comes into our body, the worse our body functions. After years of eating too much sugar, a person will become diabetic. An unhealthy lifestyle: overeating, lack of exercise and too much pressure lead to disease.
Usually, bad habits satisfy people instantly, and healthful habits do not as lots of people like instant gratification instead of a delayed one.
- A lack of self-awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.
Reflection and review are critical as we can not know our mistakes if we don’t reflect and review.
There’s an idiom in Chinese which is from the disciple of Kong Zi “ Review yourself three times from three ways per day. Am I being credible to my friends for my promise? Did I review what I learned today? Did I try my best to work today?”
Napoleon also mentioned a person will be far away from being successful if he does not learn and review from failure, as the same mistake can happen again.
If we don’t review and reflect, we can be wrong or very far away. If we study and reflect regularly, we can be aware of our mistakes.
Writing is also my way of reflection and reviewing; through writing, I can unpack my thoughts and start the review and reflecting process.