Atomic Habits
By: James Clear


Dan's Review

This is definitely one of the better self-help/motivation/career books I have read.

James Clear says making 1% changes can have a cumulative effect to achieve greatness. He backs this up with stories, and provides real practical steps on how to accomplish this. He covers dieting, workouts, developing a skill, and other goals.

Small adjustments now make a big impact later:

  • Putting a small amount from your paycheck can have a profound impact when you eventually retire.
  • Small adjustment to calorie intake can have profound health impacts.
  • Practicing a little bit everyday can greatly improve musicianship.

And the list goes on. We all know this. So what? Maclom Gladwell talked about the "10,000 hours" theory years ago. To be really good at something, we need to do it a lot over a long period of time.

That is where this book comes in. It is why I enjoyed it. How this book is different:

  • You don't have to be an expert. In fact, the last portion of the book discourages it except for certain cases and if that is truly your goal.
  • You only need to do a little. Repetition and keeping a schedule is key.
  • Small 1% changes can have a dramatic cumulative effect. After a dozen 1% tweaks, the effect can be transformative.
  • Rather than just say "Do it!", the book gives tons of practical advice, tricks, templates, cheat sheets, and other tools to help you succeed.

One idea you could immediately use:

  • Make the good thing easy and more fun.
  • Make the bad thing hard and less fun.

Do you want to watch less TV? Make TV more difficult.

-Unplug it after using it. Move it to a less desirable location. Remove the batteries from the remote. And so on.

Want to drink more water? Make water easier.

  • Fill up water bottles the night before and make them ready to drink for the next day. Put them in easy areas.

Have trouble getting to sleep? Make sleep easier.

  • Get black-out curtains.
  • Put the phone out of reach.
  • Remove TV from bedroom.
  • Get a better mattress

Still struggling with distractions? Get more extreme:

  • Have a friend reset all your passwords on social media and give them to you after X days.
  • Pack the TV away into a closet after each use.
  • Set a power timer on the router to shut off the internet at night.

The book is full of ideas like this. He has developed language and scorecards to go with it. An interesting idea was "Habit Stacking". You take a habit you are already doing, and then append another after it. Example: "Each morning when I drink my coffee, I will also do X".

An interesting idea for new habits to get going is to start super-small: Just 2 minutes. Do you want to workout at the gym 3 times a week? Start by just going to the gym (then immediatley leave). If you can keep that small task up, try going to the gym and workout for just 5 min. The idea is that creating a full workout habit from nothing is too much. Make a small habit and build on it.

Score: 5/5. There were so many nuggets that I may read this one twice.

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