I finally decided to pick up Atomic Habits. I consider myself to have fairly good habits and self-discipline, so before reading the book I wasn’t strongly drawn toward it. After seeing how long this book was on the New York Times Best Sellers List though, I decided to finally give it a try. Now that I read this book I can say that I enjoyed the tips that the author, James Clear, gives us. It certainly has things that we can utilize in our everyday life!
Atomic Habits Review
This book was an easy read, but also insightful, which is a tough balance for many writers to strike. No wonder why it has dominated best sellers lists for so long.
For people who are striving to not just form better habits, but to take control over their lives with small changes, then this book will really resonate with you. James Clear lays out ways that we can make our habits stick, like by “making it easy” and “making it attractive”. These tools can also be flipped and the inverse of them become ways break bad habits (making it hard, making it unattractive).
Clear’s take on how humans are all susceptible to the temptations of life (i.e. eating a chocolate chip cookie off the counter) is refreshing for many. I believe many people are tired of hearing about how we can just not do something or have stronger willpower. But by acknowledging the factors that make us human, and how we can adapt to those factors, any person can make productive habits and break bad ones!
The author sells us on the benefit of creating strong habits. Doing something small each day that makes us 1% better may not sound like much, but when you compound this over the course of a year then we would improve by over 37x from our starting point. Now, it may not actually be possible to improve ourselves 37x in a year, but it does show how small changes that may not seem like they are having an effect on a day-by-day basis will actually provide huge gains as we look back on our progress.
Clear also gives us many tips on how to make habits stick, and how to break bad ones. I will let you read the book for yourself to dive in, but they will give you plenty of guidance on how to craft your habits.
One thing that was insightful to me though was that for a habit to stick, we should try and craft our identity around that habit. For example, when you want to go to the gym to get in shape, anyone can go once or twice to the gym, but to see real gains you have to have consistency. The only way for you to consistently get into the gym is if you associate that with your identity. So for example, instead of going to the gym, you are a person who pays attention to their fitness or you are an athlete. How do we create an identity? Well by reinforcing it with habits of course! Start small and work your way up!
This brings up the last takeaway about creating great habits. Being a person with habits does not mean that you enjoy doing that task each day, it’s simply that you accept that you will do them, and you do. Even the best musicians, athletes, or CEOs wake up some days with no motivation, and don’t want to practice, train, or go to work. The major difference is that these people still do it. As long as we are maintaining our habits we are moving in the right direction. We only start to lose sight of our goals when we let days slip away. Of course one missed day will not hurt you too much, and you can always get back on track, but when you let streaks build without practicing your habits, it will compound against you.