Book Review: Atomic Habits

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Atomic Habits

Book Review: Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear is a New York Times best-selling book about how to create new positive habits and how to drop stubborn negative habits.

James Clear lays out three key lessons in Atomic Habits. 

Lesson 1: Small habits make a big difference!

It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.  For example, a 1% improvement isn’t particularly notable— sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s  how  the math works: if you can  get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more. What matters is not how successful or unsuccessful you are right now, but whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. Focus on getting 1 percent better every day.

Lesson 2: Forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve, whereas systems are about the processes that lead to those results.  If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you, it’s 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.

Lesson 3: Build identity-based habits. 

The key to building lasting habits is first focusing on defining your identity. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or unconsciously).  To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity based habits.  Changing one’s beliefs is not nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.

  1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
  2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

I have personally begun to employ Atomic Habits lessons.  My daily walk is now “automatic” and not a chore, and I’m in the process of making swimming part of my exercise routine by just going to the YMCA once a week.   Moreover, I am utilizing Atomic Habits in creating home therapeutic exercise programs for Centurion patients.  Home exercise compliance can be a challenge for some clients.  Atomic Habits concepts, such as starting with simple tasks that are obvious and easy, helps improve outcomes. 

Check out Atomic Habits, by James Clear, and see if you can’t start to make 1% improvements in your health.