Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having just finished this book, I am absolutely floored.

I’ve read my fair share of Self-Help books and often they can start promising but quickly turn into being overly repeating and self righteous. Despite this book being 200 pages long, I never once felt tired or worn out from any repeating tropes or themes. Everything felt fresh and new.

What helped and proved incredible interesting were the studies and research quoted at the start of every chapter. A Professor asks half of his class to take 100 pictures, and the other half 1 perfect picture. Who wins? An Olympic Swimmer and Long Distance runner have some similar leg measurements, what makes them so different? What can we learn from this? If these don’t intrigue you and prepare you for the Chapter ahead I don’t know what will. They do an excellent job of pointing towards the underlying principle coming up in the chapter.

James Clear has done an excellent job by writing in a clear, engaging and concise manner. Nothing feels like it was explained for too long, nor did anything feel lacking when progressing to the next topic. This is a very practical book and each rule is served with practical advice on how to implement it. These are real things you can start doing from today. Another very helpful point is that when you finish a great Chapter of any book, you feel a sort of high, as though you have become intoxicated after drinking from the fountain of wisdom. But how do we benefit from this? Its very difficult for most people to remember all of what they have read, even if it was in the same sitting. Atomic Habits helps you along by cumulatively adding the Chapter’s main points to the end of each section. Though you may have just learnt an intriguing new principle, you are gently reminded of the previous ones. Fantastic and underrated.

Personally, from this book I learnt the underlying principle that everything has a method. Everything has a technique. There is very little in the world that doesn’t. Just because we do things with little mental effort, we often assume that they take no special skill or ability. This kind of thinking can lead you to underestimate things you may not have done before or in a long time. Within the context of this book, when it comes to building habits I would have up til now thought of myself as being pretty knowledgeable when it comes to building new ones and phasing out old ones. It was only after reading this did I realise how much I was ‘winging’ it after much trial and error. I arrived naturally at some of the conclusions that James Clear did, but learnt much more than I could have imagined. The ‘simple’ act of making new habits actually consists of so many factors that I feel I was a fool before reading this book! I now feel humbled at this fact and will realise in future that to be good and efficient at anything, you must study it.

The last Chapters of the book are the icing of the cake, and I genuinely believe that much of it should be written in gold. The whole book thus far had been on how to build habits, these Chapters go the extra mile and give advice on how we should choose our habits. The information regarding the levels of genetic predetermination are fascinating and provide realistic advice as to what we should pursue. The hard truth is that not all of us are best suited to do the things we think we should do, why try twice as hard to get half as far? Rather we should play to our strengths, making our own games to win on our own terms with habits that flow with the genetic tide rather than against it. The fact that habits could end up working against us is also something I couldn’t imagine being the case, but here James is absolutely spot on.

Once we have established a positive habit, we could end up developing a sense of pride which could then fuel some arrogance. This in turn would prevent us from seeing the places where we are lacking or slipping up with regards to the habit. The solution? To establish bi-annual reviews. Here you can take a realistic, objective almost analytical approach to your progress and see what has slipped, see what needs improvement. A fantastically novel concept which sounds simple enough, but not one that I ever conceived of for myself.

To summarise, I learnt many lessons from this book, amongst them some that I am sure the Author never intended. I was inspired by the stories and deeply feel that I have learnt lessons that I can implement in my daily life. James Clear, thank you for an excellent read, and the concept of improving everything by 1% rather than a few huge changes is something I will carry with me.

Heavily recommend this book!

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