Atomic Habits

by James Clear

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:

  • make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
  • overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
  • design your environment to make success easier;
  • get back on track when you fall off course;
  • ...and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits--whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

Our thoughts on Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits is a useful book. It’s actionable, practical and written in clear and precise no-bullshit prose. One of the key themes throughout Atomic Habits is automating your life, the idea that "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."

James Clear takes you through the psychological, scientific, and anecdotal evidence of habit formation, with practical examples and tips to help you create a new habit or eliminate a bad one. He focuses on the small wins—making 1% improvements every day that form the foundations of a good habit. Over time, these small improvements become the architect of our lives.

“An Atomic Habit is a tiny habit or change that can have an enormous impact on your life. Getting up a little earlier, deleting social media from your phone, automating your savings, developing a system, these are atomic habits. Me personally, I don’t feel like I am particularly talented or even that disciplined, but I have a number of atomic habits that I started early on that have had a massive compounding benefit. My blurb of this one: “A special book that will change how you approach your day and live your life.”Ryan Holiday, author of Stillness is the Key

Our favourite quote from Atomic Habits

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.

25 recommendations for Atomic Habits

25 recommendation for Atomic Habits

Book Summary

Atomic Habits is a four-step guide to breaking bad habits and adopting good ones, demonstrating how small, incremental daily routines add up to massive, positive change over time.

Lesson 1: Every habit is built on a four-step process that includes trigger, desire, reaction, and reward.

In his greatest opus, The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Adam Smith set the groundwork for contemporary economics. One of his most famous observations is that, in a free market system, all workers, even if acting solely in their own best interests, maximise their own society's welfare:

…he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

When it comes to habits, James believes that the unseen hand that affects human behaviour is the environment. As a result, the initial step in practising any habit is always to use a cue. It may not always be external, but it will be the majority of the time. The four-step sequence is then completed by three more stages:

  1. Cue. A hint that there's a reward to be found, such as the fragrance of a cookie or a dark area waiting to be illuminated.
  2. Craving. The desire to modify something in order to obtain the desired result, such as eating a tasty cookie or being able to see.
  3. Response. Whatever thinking or action is required to reach the goal.
  4. Reward. The pleasurable sensation you receive from the shift, as well as the lesson of whether or not you should do it again.

There are several popular methodologies that try to predict how and why we do what we do, such as Charles Duhigg’s habit loop, Gretchen Rubins four tendencies, or BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits behaviour model. While all of these approaches are different, none of them are mutually exclusive. James offers a more refined version of what Duhigg described in The Power of Habit.

Lesson 2: In order to develop habits, you must make them visible, appealing, simple, and rewarding.

James then derives four laws of behaviour change from the four-step pattern he suggests, each of which corresponds to one part of the loop. Here they are, along with some suggestions on how to utilise them to encourage good behaviour and make poor behaviour more difficult:

  1. Make it clear. Instead of hiding your fruits in the fridge, put them on show.
  2. Make it appealing. Start with your favourite fruit so you'll want to eat one as soon as you see it.
  3. Make it simple. Avoid causing unnecessary friction by concentrating on difficult-to-peel fruits. Bananas and apples, for example, are quite simple to consume.
  4. Make it enjoyable. You'll like eating the fruit you choose if you like it, and you'll feel better as a result.

These principles can be applied to a variety of healthy habits, such as running, working on a side project, spending more time with family, and so on. In the case of harmful habits, do the polar opposite. Make them inconspicuous, unappealing, laborious, and unsatisfactory. You could, for example, hide your cigarettes, impose financial penalties, eliminate all lighters, and only smoke outside in the cold.

Lesson 3: Using a habit tracker to guarantee you keep to your new habits is a fun and simple approach to do so.

Making and breaking habits becomes enjoyable with this approach. You'll probably want to get started on numerous projects as soon as possible, but don't take on too much at once. Tracking your behaviours using a habit tracker is an easy method to hold yourself accountable without feeling overwhelmed.

The concept is simple: you keep track of all the behaviours you want to establish or abandon, and you mark which ones you succeeded with at the end of each day. A single piece of paper, a notebook, a calendar, or a digital tool, such as an app, can serve as this record.

This approach is based on the so-called "Seinfeld productivity hack." Every day that Jerry Seinfeld came up with a joke, he supposedly marked his calendar with a large 'X.' His objective quickly became not to break the chain. It's a straightforward yet powerful method for forming positive habits.

And, because habits are the compound interest of self-improvement, it's a process that we should all begin right now.

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Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.

— James Clear, Atomic Habits