Set Yourself Up for Success – Atomic Habits by James Clear //
As a wedding photographer you might be struggling with taking your business to the next level and reaching your goals because you do not have the right systems in place. The good new is, there is a framework that you can follow to adopt the good habits you require that will set you up for success!
In his widely successful book Atomic Habits – An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear, helps his readers understand that consistent tiny improvements have huge impacts. He puts it this way ”It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.” He further explains that our habits can compound for us or against us. So in essence, Clear says that ”Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.”
At this stage, it is important to distinguish between systems and goals. According to Clear ”Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”
Side note: If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to refer to a recent article that I wrote ”How to Achieve Your Personal Goals as a Wedding Photographer”.
He assures us that the reason why people have trouble changing their habits is because they do not have a system in place. In short, he says that ”You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” He also reminds us that ”a habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.” This is the key!
One hesitation some people have about having habits is that it may make their life dull. Clear argues that ”habits do not restrict freedom.” An example that he provides is that if you are lacking in good financial habits, you will constantly struggle in this area. In other words, he says that ”It’s only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity.” Now I am all for that!
Clear breaks down his book into the Four Laws of Behavior Change, which is a framework for creating good habits and breaking bad ones.
In this article, I will mainly focus on summarizing the points he makes when it comes to creating good habits.
I. THE 1st LAW – MAKE IT OBVIOUS
Clear stresses that when a behavior becomes automatic, the likelyhood that we think about it decreases. Therefore, it becomes challenging to change our habits. That is why he recommends using a Habits Scorecard to help you become more aware of your daily habits.
He also discusses habit stacking which involves pairing a new habit with a current existing habit. An example that he provides is ”After I pour my morning cup of coffee, I will mediate for sixty seconds.”
Moreover, he shares tha it is wise to design your environment for success. As he puts it ”If you want to drink more water, fill up a few water bottles each morning and place them in common locations around the house.”
II. THE 2nd LAW – MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE
Clear claims that it is important to make the habits that we want to adopt irresistible to us. He explains that ”habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop.” Why does this matter? He explains that dopamine levels rise (giving us a feeling of pleasure) both when we are experiencing pleasure and when we anticipate that we are going to experience pleasure. This is releavant, because the rise in dopamine motivates us to take action.
Clear goes on to quote Charles Darwin who said ”In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” He then states that ”one of the deepest human desires is to belong.” This leads to his conclusion that ”behaviors are attractive when they help us fit in.” In this aspect, his advice is to be around other people who already poses the habit that we are trying to adopt for ”new habits seem achievable when you see others doing them everyday.”
Clear points out that ”once we fit in, we start looking for ways to stand out.” He says that this is the reason why ”we try to copy the behavior of successful people because we desire success ourselves.” Therefore, according to Clear ”if a behavior can get us approval, respect, and praise, we find it attractive.”
III. THE 3rd LAW – MAKE IT EASY
Clear says that in order to increase the likelyhood of a habit occuring, it needs to require less energy. This is because there is often an obstacle standing between you and the habit. In order to make a habit easier, Clear’s advice is to make it ”fit into the flow of your life.”
Clear points out that a problem that we face is that ”when you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon.” That is why he recommends implementing the Two-Minute Rule which means that ”when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” An example that he provides is that instead of reading before bed every night, you focus on reading one page every night. This makes starting a habit incredibly easy. This way it makes it more likely to make it into a habit. You can gradually build on it.
IV. THE 4th LAW – MAKE IT SATISFYING
Clear explains that the point of this law is to ensure that the habit keeps getting repeated, thus closing the habit loop. He urges us to keep in mind that ”the costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.” In essence, he is saying that ”you are actually making plans for your future self.”
The approach that he puts forth is ”to use reinforcement, which refers to the process of using an immediate reward to increase the rate of behavior.” This is to say that in order for a habit to last, it needs to be enjoyable.
A useful tool that Clear suggests is a habit tracker in the form of a calendar that you can cross off everyday. This is because crossing off an item is satisfying. He further explains that it also helps people become more focused on the process instead of the result.
Additionally, Clear lines out the benefits of having an accountability partner. He explains how it works: ”If you don’t follow through, perhaps they’ll see you as untrustworthy or lazy. Suddenly, you are not only failing to uphold your promises to yourself, but also failing to uphold your promises to others.”
The best way to achieve your goals is to put a system in place which helps you not only create good habits, but also helps you maintain them. I highly encourage you to read Atomic Habits yourself because there are many more gems in it that I could not possible include it all in this article.
If you do decide to purchase the book, it would mean the world to me if you could use my Amazon Affiliate link below by clicking on the image – it will not cost you anything extra!
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The book is available in English and in German.
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Additionally, if you need more in-depth and tailored help with achieving your goals, consider booking a Clarity & Action Session with me. I would love to coach and guide you in your journey to building a thriving brand and business!
Cheering you on,
Did you know that I also have a podcast for wedding photographers?
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I’m Aida, a photographer & podcaster. I specialise in European intimate weddings and elopements. I provide overwhelmed wedding photographers with the inspiration, tools and resources needed to build a thriving brand and business. Click here to read more.