Atomic Habits by James Clear is one of those rare books that I immediately read twice in a row. It is filled with dozens of science-backed and actionable nuggets of wisdom. Do you want to improve any habits in your life? I heartily recommend Atomic Habits to you! We are all driven by our habits - many of which are unconscious. Below are 10 quotes and takeaways from this life-changing book:
1. "Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run." Atomic Habits explains why the little things you do every day matters. Your little habits matter. It may not seem like a big deal to skip a workout or to be kind, but it is a big deal. Imagine if you improved your habits by only 1% every day. You'd be dramatically a different person in a year. Then imagine if you let your habits decline by 1% every day. You'd be in a much worse spot in life overall a year from now. Your little habits - atomic habits - count for a lot in the long run. What little habits are you improving upon (or neglecting...) today?
2. "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems." This is such an important point in the book. Oftentimes we focus on goals in our life, while neglecting to focus on the systems that help us achieve goals. As an example, I had a friend who had the goal to complete a triathlon. He achieved this goal! And then he quit working out for the next year and got out of shape... He was so focused on achieving a goal that he neglected his underlying systems of being healthy. Goal achievement can actually set us back if we don't get set up sustainable systems. Get the systems right and then we'll indeed also achieve our goals. Systems > Goals.
3. "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." I love this quote from the book. Every action - every habit - you take casts a vote for the type of person you want to become. Do you want to be a more organized person? When you develop habits and systems that organize your life, you are casting votes for thinking of yourself as an organized person. You think to yourself, "hey, I'm an organized person." And then you reinforce that belief with your habits and actions - a virtuous cycle! The flip side of this can be true too. What if you often show up late to meetings? You're casting votes that may make you think "well, I'm just a person that is always late." An un-virtuous cycle. Be careful to make sure that your habits and ultimately your beliefs cast votes for the type of person you want to become and, indeed, who you truly are.
4. "How long does it actually take to form a new habit? You just need to get your reps in." Atomic Habits answers the question of "how much time does it take to form a new habit" with a better answer of : X number of actions. Meaning, you may need to simply complete a new habit 100 times for it to stick, which could be done in 3 days or 3 weeks or 3 months, depending on the new habit. It is better to think of forming new habits in terms of consistently taking action, versus trying to stick to a habit for just X number of days. Get your reps in.
5. "Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits." The inverse of this is also true - increase friction between you and your bad habits! I think about this a lot when it comes to eating healthy. I need to reduce friction by having healthy food in the house and healthy snacks at work. And I need to increase friction by not having candy in the house or in my office! Out of sight, out of mind. In sight, and I eat it. :) (which of course reminds me of the Dad joke I often tell my girls: "I'm on a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it...)
6. "Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do." This is a powerful concept. I put this in practice by only "watching TV" when I'm on the treadmill. I am able to run at a 6 MPH pace and watch TV or videos on the iPad when I'm on a treadmill. So, I generally only watch sporting events or movies or 80s music videos on YouTube when I'm running on the treadmill. This approach actually allows me to run longer if I want to watch a full half of a game, for example. And 80s music videos will often give me the energy to run that extra mile. :) Think about a new habit you want to start and how you can bundle it with an action you're already taking. Stack them together - i.e. habit stacking.
7. "Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and 'don't break the chain.'" Atomic Habits does a nice job of explaining the importance of tracking your habits for success. What gets measured gets managed. One of my favorite habit trackers is a FitBit/Apple Watch, which tracks steps, heart rate, sleep, weight and can even track food intake/calories, if you input this data. My behavior definitely changes thanks to these habit trackers. Atomic Habits gives you additional habit tracker resources.
8. "Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately." We all will have days where we fall off the bandwagon and our habits go in reverse. Well, that's okay for one day. Don't let it happen twice. Get back on track as soon as possible. (And, yes, sometimes we miss a habit two days in row. Just don't let it become three days...)
9. Author James Clear gets to the point quickly in Atomic Habits and with actionable advice. James has been blogging about habits, health, happiness, creativity and productivity since 2012. Check out a sampling of his writing at www.jamesclear.com/articles. (While you're there, subscribe to his terrific weekly newsletter with 445,000+ subscribers!) James is also fun to follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JamesClear. Atomic Habits has 20 relatively short chapters that open with compelling stories and end with helpful chapter summaries. If you listen to books on Audible, I highly recommend the audio book as James reads this book very passionately.
10. Check out a great interview with author James Clear about Atomic Habits below:
Have you read Atomic Habits yet? If so, please share your thoughts on the book in the comments section below. Thanks!
p.s. I plan to blog regularly about "Read More Books" in 2019. I'd be honored if you'd subscribe to my blog's emails at: www.mikepritchard.com/subscribe.html
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.