Atomic Habits by James Clear

January 2nd, 2020

This book...man, it’s packed full of realistic habit changing fuel that you can apply to your life today. Seriously. It’s almost a reference manual in that there are so many good ideas and tactics that are explained in a simple and clear manner. Here are some of the most salient points that stuck out to me:

Scale down your habits

I’ve heard James mention this on quite a few podcasts but when building a habit it’s important to break it down into the smallest repeatable element to instill the habit. From a Christian perspective; if you’re trying to read your Bible everyday don’t set up a habit like “I’m going to read my Bible every day for 30 MINUTES.” It’s way too big. Make it super tiny so that executing the habit is almost effortless. Just read a page, or a paragraph, or even a sentence. Just make it tiny enough that you won’t fail to do it. Then track it.

Systems not Goals

I loved this point so much because as we’re told many times over to set goals (SMART,BHAG, and other such goals-type acronyms come to mind) if we fail to design the systems to accomplish those goals we are taking a shot in the dark. As James writes; “Winners and Losers have the same goals.” Design your systems to achieve your goals!

Your Habits are your Identity

This one is deep. It’s one of those phrases that appears obvious but when you really look at it; we don’t really believe it on some level. When someone states “I want to be X” our response should be “Are you doing X?” I concede that this falls down a little bit when someone says “I want to perform brain surgery!” But for every person who has ever said that they want to be a writer, or a dancer, or an artist (ahem) they just need to write, dance, and make art. You ARE what you DO. If someone wants to be a better Christian, are they doing the things that a “better Christian” would do?

To summarize, this book is one of the better ones I’ve read on habit change. The tactics that James lays out here are actionable and something that anyone could start doing immediately. Whether we are aware of it or not, habits are a major part of our functioning life; understanding why we do them and learning how to manipulate them can aid us in doing whatever it is we set out to do. Buy this book, don’t wait for a discount, it’ll be the best twenty bucks that you’ll spend today. Thanks James!