Atomic Habits by James Clear is an incredible book on habits and the massive effect that they have on our lives. Published in 2018 and now an international bestseller, Atomic Habits centers around this idea that “habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” If you want to improve yourself in any way, look first to your daily habits.
What is a habit? “A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly-and, in many cases, automatically.” The issue with habits is that we struggle to see them and understand their importance because in the short-term, they have minimal effect. We won’t become overweight after one large pizza, nor will we spring into shape after one session at the gym, but these behaviors extended over a lifetime will make a massive difference.
Clear relates habits to compound interest; an interesting model he suggests that really helped me visualize the effect that these tiny behaviors had on our lives is set up like this:
If we improve ourselves 1% every day for a year, we’ll end up 37 times better than we started. However, if you get 1% worse daily, you’ll drop nearly to 0.
Real change comes from hundreds of repetitions of these tiny changes. “Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.”
Clear discusses this idea that instead of focusing on goals, we should focus on the systems that lead to those goals. One reason for this is because winners and losers have the same goals; therefore, it’s not the goal that differentiates them, but the systems behind it that make the real difference.
He also talks about how identity change is truly what make habits stick. Instead of working towards losing weight or building muscle, you should try to become an athletic or healthy person. Instead of making it a goal to meditate every day, you should try to build a system around becoming a mindful person.
Clear then outlines several methods that you can use to build any habit, along with hundreds of useful examples and case studies.
I really enjoyed this book; it’s one of the very few that made a truly meaningful impact on my life. Instead of thinking about _Atomic Habits_ as a guide to improving your habits, I’d recommend thinking about it as a handbook of methods that you can use to learn anything.
If you’re someone who is looking to improve themselves in any way, this book is the manual to do so. I’d recommend it to anyone who is thinking about getting into the world of self-development, and wants to build up lifelong skills and behaviors.
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