With a new year often comes a desire to set New Year’s resolutions. So, I thought it was very fitting to have my first ‘Book Takeaway’ of 2021 be Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.
“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, listeners 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.“
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- Atomic Habits is a #1 New York Times best-seller and has sold more than three million copies worldwide. (How phenomenal is that for Clear’s debut book?!)
- I highly recommend checking out Clear’s Web site (tons of great articles) Instagram and Twitter (lots of great quotes) and his 3-2-1 weekly newsletter (includes 3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider).
In a nutshell, Atomic Habits is an operating manual for building better habits for a lifetime.
Clear offers science-backed wisdom and practical advice on how to create and change your habits in a way that’s easy to understand and apply. (Clear describes a habit as “a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and, in many cases, automatically.”) The strategies that are covered are relevant to “anyone looking for a step-by-step system for improvement, whether your goals center on health, money, productivity, relationships, or all of the above.”
Clear breaks down the four stages of a habit, the four laws of behavior change that one can use to build better habits (and break bad ones), and also offers various strategies for optimizing habits, such as habit stacking, habit tracking and the two-minute rule.
I’m pretty sure I highlighted more passages in Atomic Habits than I have in any book I’ve ever read. So it was no easy feat narrowing down the ones I wanted to share in this post. And it’s still a lot!
Here are some of my favorite gems from the book:
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it actually is big. That’s the paradox of making small improvements.”
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”
“[Habits] are not about having something. They are about becoming someone. Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits.”
“Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. Building habits in the present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.”
“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. Improving 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.”
“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations. 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. If you’re a millionaire but you spend more than you earn each month, then you’re on a bad trajectory. If your spending habits don’t change, it’s not going to end well. Conversely, if you’re broke but you save a little bit every month, then you’re on the path toward financial freedom—even if you’re moving slower than you’d like.”
“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.”
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.”
“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
“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 the change.”
“People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through. Too many people try to change their habits without these basic details figured out. Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the right time to make an improvement.”
“The point is to master the habit of showing up. The truth is, a habit must be established before it can be improved. If you can’t learn the basic skill of showing up, then you have little hope of mastering the finer details. Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis. You have to standardize before you can optimize.”
“If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t need to map out every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it…Simply putting in your reps is one of the most critical steps you can take to encoding a new habit.”
“It’s not always about what happens during the workout. It’s about being the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts. It’s easy to train when you feel good, but it’s crucial to show up when you don’t feel like it—even if you do less than you hope. Going to the gym for five minutes may not improve your performance, but it reaffirms your identity.”
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK:
- The book is extremely well-written and well-researched. I’m not going to lie, while I absolutely respect science, sometimes my eyes start to glaze over when I’m reading something suuuper scientific-y. Clear strikes the perfect balance between scientific research and real-life examples.
- I love the stories of Olympic athletes, business leaders, artists and more at the beginning of each chapter that sets up the subject matter in a practical way.
- My favorite chapters are Chapter 1 (The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits), Chapter 2 (How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa) and Chapter 11 (Walk Slowly, but Never Backward).
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
Absolutely nothing. It was such a great book that I think any and everyone can benefit from. I’m excited to see what Clear’s next book will be!
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:
Anyone looking for practical tips on how to form new habits or break bad ones!
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