Book:  Atomic Habits

Author:  James Clear

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits : tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. London: Random House Business Books.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.  They seem to make a little difference on any given day but the impact they deliver over the months can be enormous. (pg. 16)

  • Always think: “Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be? Does this habit contribute toward my desired identity?” (pg. 65)

  • "The average person spends over two hours per day on social media. What could you do with an extra six hundred hours per year?" (pg. 175)

Other Key Ideas:

  • Improving by 1% isn’t particularly noticeable, but it can be very meaningful in the long run.  The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. If you can get one percent better each day for a year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done.  (pg. 15)

  • A slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination. Success if the product of daily habits - not once-in-a-lifetime transformation. (pg. 17)

  • Each habit is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement.  At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon the habits build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment. (pg. 27)

  • Habits do not restrict freedom.  They create it. In fact, the people who don’t have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom. (pg. 47)

  • One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.  Habit stacking allows you to create a set of simple rules that guide your future behavior. It’s like you always have a game plan for which action should come next. (pg. 74)

  • Disciplined people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control.  In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations. (pg. 93)

  • If you want to get rid of a habit, you have to make it invisible.  I’m often surprised by how effective simple changes changes can be.  Remove a single cue and the entire habit often fades away. Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one. (pg. 95)

  • The closer we are to someone, the more likely we are to imitate some of their habits.  Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. These social normals are the invisible rules that guide your behavior each day. (pg. 115)

  • One of the most common questions is, “How long does it take to build a new habit?”  But what people really should be asking is, “How many times does it take to form a new habit?”  It doesn’t matter if its been 21 days or 300 days. What matters is the rate at which you perform the behavior.  To build a habit, you need to practice it. (pg. 146)

  • Energy is precious, and the brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible. It is human nature to follow the Law of Least Effort, which states that when deciding between two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. (pg. 151)

  • You must create an environment where doing the right things is as easy as possible.  Much of the battle of building better habits comes down to finding ways to reduce the friction associated with our good habits and increase the friction associated with our bad ones. (pg. 155)

  • Every day, there are a handful of moments that deliver an outsized impact.  These little choices are called decisive moments. The moment you decide between ordering takeout or cooking dinner, or the moment you decide between starting homework or grabbing the TV remote would be examples.  These little choices stack up, each one setting the trajectory for how you spend the next chunk of time. (pg. 160)

  • Journaling is an example of a good habit that can be hard to start.  Nearly everyone can benefit from getting their thoughts onto paper, but most people give up after a few days or avoid it entirely because journaling feels like a chore. (pg. 165)

  • Because of how we are wired, most people will spend all day chasing quick hits of satisfaction.  If you’re willing to wait for the rewards, you’ll face less competition and often get a bigger payoff. (pg. 190)

  • Recording your habits creates a trigger that can initiate your next one.  Habit tracking naturally builds a series of visual cues like the streak of X’s on your calendar.  Habit tracking also keeps you honest. (pg. 197)

  • How matter how consistent you are with your habits, it is inevitable that life will interrupt you at some point.  Whenever this happens, try to remind yourself to “never miss twice.” This is a distinguishing feature between winners and losers.  Anyone can have a bad performance, a bad workout, or a bad day at work. But when successful people fail, they rebound quickly. Don’t let losses eat into your compounding. (pg. 201)

  • What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else?  At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day.  Really successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that they still find a way to show up despite the feelings of boredom.  (pg. 233)

  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.  Professionals know what is important to them and work toward it with purpose; amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life. (pg. 236)

  • The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over.  You have to fall in love with the boredom. (pg. 236)

  • Some people keep a “decision journal” in which they record the major decisions they make each week.  They review their choice at the end of the month or year to see where they were correct and where they were wrong. (pg. 245)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.