Reviewing James Clear’s Atomic Habits

In his book:Atomic Habit, James Clear told a story of how his life flashed before his eyes.

He was playing on the field like every other kid and someone hit him with a ball with full velocity. This made him lose his brain function. He had become slow, sluggish, depressed and had struggled with the things he used to do. In a bid to gain control of his life, he learnt some techniques which later became the Atomic habit book.

I like to think of the book as therapy but this time it’s not helping you get over your emotional issues per se. It’s helping your productivity issues.

This is the right book for you if you feel like you can’t get anything done.

He starts by explaining that setting goals won’t do as much good as setting systems. Just having great goals doesn’t set you up for great things. Every athlete has the same goal of winning the game. A poor student and an excellent one wants to pass their exams. Every person wants to be healthy. But not everyone will achieve these goals because not everyone will take actionable and consistent steps toward it.

That act of taking little actionable and consistent steps is the act of building habits, which helps you build systems.

He goes on to say that you are your habits, and if this is not true, you become your habits. To put this more clearly, you’re a reader if you read a lot but if you weren’t already a reader and you decide to cultivate the habit of reading every day, you become a reader. Your habits form your identity

Here are some of the techniques for habit formation that he taught in the book

He explained that to form a new habit, one must make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and make it satisfying.

Making it obvious means that more than intrinsic motivation, your environment often matters more.

For example, if you’re trying to build a habit, join a community of people where the habit you’re trying to build is the norm. Also, design your environment to help the new habit you’re trying to form.  For example; if you’re trying to eat healthier, keep junk foods out of sight.

Under Making it Attractive, he taught the act of creating a motivation ritual. That is linking a habit you want to build to something you already want to do.  For example, say you want to eat a chocolate but need to wash your clothes, you could say that you would eat a chocolate bar after you wash your clothes. This way, you have something to motivate you to get the job done.

Making it easy means going a little at a time. instead of trying to do a lot of the tasks you’re trying to do at once. For example, if you’re trying to cultivate a reading habit, instead of trying to read for 30 minutes every day, it would be sustainable if you just do 5 minutes a day. That way, you reduce the friction it takes for you to perform the task consistently.

He talked about some other strategies which include keeping a streak, having an accountability partner, rewarding yourself for completing a habit, keeping an habit streak and trying not to break the streak etc. 

Read the book to learn more about habit formation.

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