We all want to build good habits and get rid of bad ones but why do we struggle to do it? We all set new year resolutions but as soon as the year starts, we find ourselves doing the same things from previous year. We all know that we should exercise, eat healthy, and build skills because they’ll benefit us immensely yet we somehow don’t find the motivation and discipline to do them. In Atomic Habits, James Clear wants to help us with that.
He starts with a core belief: instead of focusing on radical overnight changes, try to make small changes to your life. These small changes or acts repeated over large intervals of time yield immense benefits. These small changes are what he calls atomic habits. The rationale behind calling them atomic is that our small acts form the building blocks of our daily routine which eventually determines our entire weeks, months, and years.
He cites the example of British cyclists who had never one a single Tour de France title in 110 years! They analyzed everything from the bicycle’s seat to the sleep timings to the color of the paint of the team’s truck. Then they made small changes. The result? From 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and sixty-six Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured five Tour de France victories in what is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history.
I love this idea. I have struggled a lot with trying to do a lot of new things at once after some inspiration strucks but there comes a point where all these things start feeling like chores and I abandon them. The great thing about the concept of making small changes is that we are all capable of doing it because small changes are easy.
Another key concept is that we should focus on our systems rather than goals. Winners and losers have the same goals but what differentiates the winners from the losers is that winners have habits that help them get the work done. Losers wish but don’t do. Systems are built using habits.
Then he breaks down a habit into four core components: cue, craving, response, and reward. This is somewhat similar to what The Power of Habits discusses. A large part of the book is then dedicated to these four components and how we can use them to change or build new habits. These sections are filled with examples from real life. The connection between the examples and the content helps connect the dots and reaffirms the knowledge.
The last section of the book is called Advanced Tactics which discusses topics like how to stay motivated in life and work, and to what extent genes matters. These are interesting articles and provide useful information.
The most surprising thing about the reading experience was how easy it was to get lost in this book. The small chapters with summaries at the end make a convenient reading experience. While The Power of Habits focused more on the science of habit formation and how businesses, organizations, and nations used them to further their ambitions, Atomic Habits takes a more personal approach towards habit by focusing on an individual instead. The two complement each other very well.
You can read the summary of the book by clicking here.