Book Review: Atomic Habits by James Clear


Several months ago, I watched two YouTube videos about this book prior to purchasing it; one by a random person and one by the author himself. Both videos were interesting and it turns out the most important points (for me) were presented in the videos. So...unless you need to read something to really ingest the information, you could probably pass on buying the book.

During the course of both, I discovered that I'm utilizing a couple of the tips and tricks the author suggests, and reading the actual book has provided a few more tools for my toolbox, although, again, you can probably skip the reading if you find a detailed enough video.

The biggest difference in what I currently do, versus one thing I think Atomic Habits prescribes is mindset. As an example that came directly from James Clear himself is this:

The goal is not to write a book; the goal is to become a writer.

Maybe not the best example, because I am a writer, and I've published more than a dozen books. More if you count all the fan fiction I've penned on my way to publication. :0) But the theory stands.

One of his other examples was a person trying to lose weight. His example dieter always asked herself, "What would a healthy person eat?" and made her choices accordingly.

Another suggestion is to "habit stack." When trying to add a new habit, pair it up with another habit. So, for example, when I'm done bathing the dog in the bathtub, I then scrub the tub and shower surround. I could further clean the bathroom, but between bathing the dog and cleaning the tub, I'm wore out.

One more example from the book is to pre-plan your habit. Mr. Clear cited a study whereby a group of people who wanted to incorporate exercise into their routine were split into three groups. The first group, the control group, was asked to merely track how often they exercised. The second group was also asked to track how often they exercised, but they were also shown motivational information about healthy lifestyles, including exercise. The third group was shown the same motivational / informational presentation but was also instructed name the time/date, the activity, and the location for their exercise.

Guess which group was most successful by a fair margin? If you said the third group, you'd be correct.

I took copious notes through the first third of the book and then life/work got busy and I had to read while getting my steps, meaning that I wasn't sitting comfortably with my notebook and pen handy. more notes.

But what I do recall about making or breaking habits are the Four Laws...

For creating a habit...

  • (1) make it obvious
  • (2) make it attractive
  • (3) make it easy
  • (4) make it satisfying

For breaking a habit...

  • (1) make it invisible
  • (2) make it unattractive
  • (3) make it hard
  • (4) make it unsatisfying

Now I just need to incorporate some of these action items so that I can get some of those goals (habits) going and successful. (Housekeeping, anyone?) 

As a last side note, I came across an article about New Years resolutions shortly before or right after the New Year and I'm sure you can guess what the author recommended.

  • A) make your goals specific and measurable
  • B) piggy back on other habits (Clear's habit-stacking)
  • C) engineer your environment (also part of habit-stacking in the book, but in away that makes it easier to follow through--his example is to leave a book on your pillow if you want to start reading more, or leave your exercise clothes out and handy so that you don't have to think about it and choose *not* to exercise)
  • D) measure your progress (track your habits--using the most basic format of crossing off days on a calendar; Clear's point a la Jerry Seinfeld: don't break the chain)
  • E) don't sweat the bad / off days (Clear reiterates that no one's perfect, but never miss twice)

So...have you read this book? What'd you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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