Book Review: “Atomic Habits”

An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

From John Maxwell’s summer reading list, James Clear provides a practical guide to improving your every day life. Much in-line with John Maxwell’s philosophy that our success depends on what’s on our daily agenda, Clear breaks habits down to the “atomic” level; the smallest, non-divisible elements of building and maintaining effective habits. For a C-driven person on the DISC scale, the writing (and resources) click on a deep level! Do you appreciate systems and tools to help you advance? This book is packed with them!

*DISCLOSURE: This page includes affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All linked items are products that I believe in, use myself, and fit my lifestyle.


Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Title: Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

Author: James Clear

Date Published: 2018

Pages: 306

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You should read this if:

  • You appreciate systems and tools
  • Are looking to improve the quality of your life
  • Have trouble accomplishing your goals
  • Want to understand how to change your behavior
  • Have “good” habits you want to start
  • Have “bad” habits you want to break

Summary

Atomic Habits rests on the foundation that our lives can be transformed by one small change. Making those changes repeatedly will lead to exponential growth. As a scientist and health & fitness enthusiast, I immediately appreciated how Clear identified at the start that defining and creating systems is what will ultimately produce lasting results. Reaching goals is valuable only for a moment, but what happens after you have crossed that off?

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

James Clear, Atomic habits

Clear then dives in to how habits shape our identity and the real reason our habits matter: they are creating the type of person you want to become. So, in order to change our habits, and in the process develop intrinsic motivation to persist when obstacles present themselves, we must have clarity on who we want to become.

Once you understand the science behind our habits (Cue > Craving > Response > Reward), Clear breaks down the four steps to create “good” habits and break “bad” ones. Law #1 Make It Obvious (Cue), Law #2 Make It Attractive (Craving), Law #3 Make It Easy (Response), and Law #4 Make It Satisfying (Reward). Breaking your bad habits is just the inverse of each law, make it invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying.

After each section he offers a template for you to start taking action on the step you’ve just learned, with a scorecard for you to take an inventory of your current habits, as well as his templates for habit stacking, journaling, habit tracking, a habit contract (between you and your accountability partner(s), and a personality test.

Strengths

James Clear writes…well, clearly! He pulls in seemingly random examples from human history, from the early days of how agriculture spread across continents to Vietnam War studies, and identifies how our behaviors and habits are connected. The book is well organized and designed for the reader to start taking action. Clear provides numerous resources including:

  • Habit Cheatsheet (lists the 4 Law of Behavior Change and the corresponding laws to create good habits and break bad ones)
  • Habit Scorecard: create a inventory of your current habits
  • Habit Stacking Formula: creating a plan to overhaul your habits
  • Habit Journal: develop a habit using his 2-minute rule (when you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do)
  • Habit Tracker: measure your progress
  • Habit Contract: between you and your accountability partner(s)
  • Personality Test: understanding your personality and how it influences your habits
  • Atomic Habits Newsletter
  • Atomic Habits for Business
  • Atomic Habits for Parenting

Weaknesses

Only mildly self-promoting, which is forgivable with the wealth of practical information and action steps given.

Boredom is the greatest villain on the quest for self-improvement.

James Clear, Atomic Habits
Go further

If you’re ready to start habit tracking, James Clear developed his Clear Journal, which allows you to begin a journalling habit using his 2-minute rule, track your habits throughout the year, ample space for taking notes, as well as a productivity tool-kit in the back. I’ve been using this journal for the past 2 months; its design and functionality work well for me. Most importantly, it has me taking action and identifying my (many) weaknesses and strengths! Combined with the knowledge in the book, they are a great 1-2 punch.

How to Get 1% Better Every Day

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Have you read Atomic Habits? What were your thoughts? What good habits are you building? Which bad habits are you breaking?

Published by Aimee Wong

When she's not in the lab, you'll find Aimee officiating high school basketball games or at Saturday night family dinners. She's passionate about learning, lattes, and lifting weights.

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