Atomic Habits is my favorite book of 2019 AND 2020. Apart from the Bible, no book has had as profound an impact on my life as this one.
Great books demand you come back to them over and over again, and this is one of the all-time greats. I’ve read this book three times and listened to it on Audible once.
Atomic Habits is intensely practical – you’ll find yourself wanting to get started before Chapter 1 is over. James has a unique way of communicating powerful truths in digestible form that drive you to action.
The premise of Atomic Habits is that you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. Your current results don’t matter as much as your current trajectory. By committing to get 1% better each day, the compounding growth you achieve over time is tremendous.
My favorite quote from the book is this:
New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do. And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it’s a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results.James Clear
I found myself drawn to how James communicates throughout the book. It’s incredibly tweetable, meaning each sentence is written to invoke action. Even my own writing style has been inspired by his.
He makes a convincing argument – that identity change drives behavior change, not goals – and I couldn’t agree more. Building great habits enables you to change your identity for the better.
Here is my brief book summary and key takeaways from Atomic Habits by James Clear:
- An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine. It’s the base level component of our behavior patterns.
- Habits are the compound interest of self improvement. As Charlie Munger has said: “The first rule of compounding is to not interrupt it unnecessarily.”
- “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than your current results.” Time is your ally when your trajectory is correct.
- You get what you repeat. Great habits reward you; bad habits destroy you.
- You don’t need better goals, you need better systems. Goals are the results you want to achieve, but systems are the processes that get the results.
- James refers to a concept called “The Plateau of Latent Potential” – an idea that your results don’t grow linearly but rather compound.
- I’ve experienced this personally in many areas of my life. You work, you put in your reps and you see no results day after day. Then, all of a sudden, it clicks and you get better fast – and people will call it an overnight success.
- Most people quit right before they see themselves getting better fast, and it is a shame.
- An incredibly powerful question is posed by James: “Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?” That is the core idea behind habit formation – identity alignment and change.
- You don’t just say “I want to run 3 miles twice per week.” Instead, you should say “I am a runner.” Then you will logically conclude you should run at least 3 miles twice per week, and you’ll continue to do it because that is what runners do.
- The Four Laws of Behavior Change:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
- “Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity.” Wow – that hits you like a ton of bricks because it is true.
- Your environment greatly affects your behavior. Good environment design makes habit change far easier.
- The Inversion of the Four Laws of Behavior Change
- Make it invisible
- Make it unattractive
- Make it difficult
- Make it unsatisfying
- The great thing about good habits is that you do them without thinking. It’s also the intrinsic downside of habits. This is why you must create great habits coupled with deliberate practice. This is the formula for achieving mastery in any area of life.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It has been transformative in my own life, and I’ve seen it transform the lives of others in my circles of influence. It’s an investment in yourself that will pay compounding dividends over time.
Don’t go to bed tonight before buying Atomic Habits and committing to reading it! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
You can find links for the print and audio books below.Buy the Book Buy the Audiobook