Atomic Habits

James Clear
4
May 21, 2020

There are a lot of things I start but never finish. I have a lot of good intentions that never really get going. On the flip side, I have some bad habits I have a difficult time breaking myself of. It's easy to feel discouraged and lazy when I can't get myself to follow through and stick with something or to quit something that hinders your life.

And then along comes James Clear to make keeping and losing habits more understandable and more attainable. Atomic Habits grew from posts on his blog and having them all in one book is easier to digest and refer back to than jumping around his blog. And I do refer back to this book a lot. It helps that each chapter is short and ends with a bullet point summary of the chapter, making it easy to digest and easy to go back to.

Clear breaks down how habits are formed and why we don't stick with new ones (like New Year resolutions) and breaks down ways we can successfully build new habits and lose bad ones in ways that stick. I say "break down" because that's where the title comes from. One of the main problems people have with habits is making them too big at the beginning and getting overwhelmed trying to keep it all going. If you've never worked out at a gym before, setting a goal of hitting the gym an hour everyday after work is probably more than most people can stick with--or even start with. Instead Clear recommends breaking down the larger goal into smaller, "atomic" goals and building slowly from there.

That's only a small part, an atomic part, of Clear's advice. There's more to it, and the entire book has been very useful to me. It's helped me build some habits that I've wanted to start and stick with for a long time but always dropped sooner or later. Thanks to Atomic Habits, I've been meditating and writing consistently every morning for over a year, and I can't imagine not doing either of those things. They're not aspirations or resolutions anymore, they're habits that are a part of my life.

If you've had trouble getting yourself to stick with exercising, practicing an art or craft, cutting down on junk food, or whatever changes you want to make to your life, check out Atomic Habits.

(I'm giving myself a gold star for never once describing Clear's writing as "clear." Even though he does write in a very clear style.)

 

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