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I am slightly biased in writing this review because prior to reading the book I already possessed a near religious belief in habits and how they impact our lives. Having read previous habit books like Charles Duhigg Power of Habits and Marshall Goldsmith “triggers”, I felt I was at least relatively intermediate on my knowledge of the topic.
Why did I read the book then? Because learning (or reinforcing learning) about habits is one of the most powerful ways for you to improve in the game of life. Your habits shape your destiny is one of my core beliefs so I am always happy to try to get a new “edge” or ways to improve them. I also expected to find new gems that would help reinforce the message of why habits are so powerful and I was not disappointed.
But enough of my own habits and life, the question is whether you should read this book? The resounding answer is YES. Honestly, who doesn’t want to get better at something? Or who doesn't want to stop doing something?
James Clear is a fantastic writer who I have followed his informative articles on a variety of topics for nearly a year. A lot of what is in the book is material he has written about on his website as other reviewers have stated but he puts it together in a very neat format for the book so even his regular readers should get something out of this. I actually took so many notes/highlights from the Kindle edition that I almost reached the publisher limit of 10% - a sign that I believe highly in what I am reading and want to reflect upon it for years to come.
The opening pages of the book lay down a quote I will now repeat forever “if you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty- seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.” The beginning lays out why habits are so powerful and how habits shape who we are as people before getting into the HOW of starting to build better habits.
The core of the book is based on the author’s “4 Laws” of habit change - Make it obvious, Make it Attractive, Make it Easy, Make it Satisfying”. By following the laws of habit creation we improve our chances of success in creating new habits.
Without droning on too long, I must highly recommend this book. Even if you have no idea about what a habit is or if you are already advanced in the practising of habit change then this book will still teach you so much. If not just a refresher on the topic to keep you motivated. Seriously, anyone of any age could benefit from this book. It gives you the tools to start thinking more clearly about your life and improving it. I would recommend it to anyone over the other habit books I have read (see above) as it is relatively short and provides the “how to” parts on a silver platter.
I will end my post on a few excellent quotes of the book towards the end (Ch.19 ”How to Stay Motivated” as this is the golden question for once you finish the book. A coach was asked by Clear what is the difference between the best athletes and everyone else? The coach said: ‘the factors you might expect: genetics, luck, talent. But then he said something I wasn’t expecting: “At some point it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.”
“Mastery requires practice. But the more you practice something, the more boring and routine it becomes. Once the beginner gains have been made and we learn what to expect, our interest starts to fade.
It is a fantastic book but the key thing will be can you then translate that into action? The book gives you the best leg up you can get - it’s then up to you to turn knowledge into action and go and get 1% better every darn day.
Although a large percentage of the 2300 plus books I have read since January 2000 are audio, mostly from Audible, I feel this is a case where you need a print edition. With non-fiction books I like to mark the margin in pencil to identify key points, then create my own index, and that is certainly the case here. Although James provides a chapter summary, which is most useful, the items that have relevance for you are worth noting. James kindly sent me chapter 1, as he no doubt did to tens of thousands on his mailing list. I found this most interesting and prompted me to buy two copies (one to loan to friends) in due course. On reflection it occurred to me that there are 1440 minutes in the day, 1% being 14.4 minutes. Round that up to 15 minutes – a quarter of an hour. All of us can devote 1% a day to a desired project, and over time that adds up. I decided that apart from whatever else I was doing in the writing field, preparing my novel THE PRICE TO PAY and a collection of 25 short stories – THE FORK IN THE ROAD – to go on Kindle, etc. I would devote 1% a day to writing a new short story. Consequently, since the end of October 2018 I have written 8 stories with a word count of a bit over 38,000 words. I do acknowledge that when the creative process is upon me and I am nearing the end I might get up at 4:30 am and write for a couple of hours, but it has been an excellent discipline. I believe that anyone who wants to improve their productivity, refine the process by which they achieve this and become more efficient in achieving your goals, ATOMIC HABITS is a book to read, then read again and again. Thank you James for your excellent ‘Giving Attitude’ – you deserve all your success and are entitled to enjoy both the tangible and the intangible moments as you pass the markers along Success Road. Eric J Drysdale – em: firstname.lastname@example.org
I found the four laws easy to understand and apply. Two things especially useful were the concepts about 'the plateau of latent potential', and 'the three layers of behavior change'. I believe that if we adopt identity-based behavior we can overcome the barriers to reaping the rewards that lie beyond our latent potential. I gladly recommend reading this book.
James has an extremely direct and readable style. He's clearly a student of human nature and uses a wealth of examples that can give you enough to get started with immediately.
The opening story of an injury from baseball may be traumatising for some squeamish readers, but it shows the amazing courage that James had as a very young man. I believe his extraordinary dedication and fidelity to writing and to learning about how we make or break our habits was enough to give this long-lasting gift of this book to the world.
Atomic Habits seems to be perfectly tailored to this age of distraction, and he gives advice for everybody on how they can rise above the clutter and noise.
I’ve read many self improvement books but this is the only one that has absolutely made a difference and boy did I need it.
The author writes incredibly well and this book is very logical and relatable. He demonstrates his ideas as well with graphs and everything makes so much SENSE. The very small incremental improvements we can make in our lives not only add up Over time and done so gradually it takes no effort or feelings of deprivation (when losing a bad habit) but COMPOUND, i.e. we earn interest on our interest. I have never been good at goal setting and I severely lack motivation.... or so I thought until I read this book.
Now, I am eating really healthily, exercising (something that used to be an effort), I have switched my bottle of wine a night habit to herbal tea and I look and feel like a different person. I have even had friends Comment on how awesome I look and how happier and more positive I am!
This book is well written and well set out with a balance of studies plus personal insights by the author but stays on track. I have found it thought provoking and expanding my view of my daily routine and attitude. It has depth, not just one idea repeated lots of different ways. Generally I am a speed reader, but have gone against type for this book, by taking my time and rereading many sections. I am onto my third read thru the entire book as I work my way thru the sections, that can be applied to your everyday behaviours. I can highly recommend.
Most self help books give you sensation of "wow that was a great read" but then leave you with no direct actionable steps to implement what they have taught. This book is the complete opposite. It is a complete breakdown of what to do and how. The only way it could be any better is if James would upload a youtube series of him actually breaking down his habits in real time.
Complex topics explained simply and succinctly. Entertaining, actionable and insightful. Habits are systems not goals.....GOLD, thank you James! It was like reading a book by an old friend. I look forward to James's emails every week and this book takes his learnings to the next level.