I’ve been a long time reader of James’s work. He has an incredible story about how he came back from a terrible high school accident to become a star athlete, using habits and small wins to change his life and become successful. His blog, JamesClear.com, is some of the best writing on the web. So when I heard his new book was coming out, I wanted to support his work and get an early read on this before anyone else.
James sent me a copy of his book earlier in the year and I was able to dive in. I also recently interviewed him on Session 340 of the SPI Podcast, which will be available this Wednesday, October 17, so you can learn more about James and his book, Atomic Habits there too. But I’ll share a little bit about the book for the book club here to show you just how powerful it is.
Beyond James’s wild story about his accident (which I’ll leave out for you to read in the book; it literally had me gasping while reading it’s that intense), the book shows the small things that added up to make big change over time. James spends a good amount of time in the beginning of the book breaking the mold on GOALS. Goals are something I talk a lot about and it’s obviously an important aspect of becoming successful, but as James mentions: if success is determined solely based on the goals we all set for ourselves, then most of us would be successful. It’s not the goals that matter, it’s the systems that we put in place that help us achieve those goals that matter the most. In fact, he even goes so far to comment on whether or not we’d achieve the same (if not more) success if we didn’t even set goals, but put the systems in place to achieve more every day—and his argument is, well, yes!
It’s these small things we begin to insert into our lives that create massive change. That’s where we get the “atomic” part of Atomic Habits. Atomic means “an extremely small amount of a thing; the single irreducible unit of a larger system.” It also means “a source of immense energy or power!”
Pretty awesome, right?
One of the cores of the book is how James breaks down habit formation (and bad habit breaking) into laws:
- Law #1: Make it Obvious
- Law #2: Make it Attractive
- Law #3: Make it Easy
- Law #4: Make it Satisfying
He offers a number of rules that we can implement that may seem easy on the surface, but obviously are a bit harder to incorporate (as I’ve discovered myself!), but after some time these things become second nature. That’s when it turns into a habit.
For example, his suggestion for learning how to stop procrastinating:
“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two-minutes to do.”
What? Huh? How does this work?
This works because we always try to go too big; we set big goals for ourselves (which is good), but when we try to take action and think about doing those big things habitually, like going to the gym, we either get overwhelmed, or it just becomes too hard.
James’s “hack”, however, is the two-minute rule in which nearly any habit that you want to achieve can be broken down into a smaller scaled-down version that’s less than two minutes:
“Read before bed each night” becomes “read one page.”
“Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “take out my yoga mat.”
“Run three miles” becomes “lace up my running shoes.”
By creating a habit of the small thing, you end up doing the big thing anyway.
I love this, and it makes so much sense. It’s like the domino effect. One thing leads into the next which leads into the next. So if that first domino, that tiny action (like tying your shoes for running) can be the one thing you do every day at the same time, then boom—you’ve made it way easier for yourself to do the bigger thing, which is run with those shoes that are already on your feet!
This is just one example of the many kinds of things you can learn in this book, and there’s a lot of science and proof behind this information too, so it’s not just made-up fluff and hacks.
Atomic Habits by James Clear is a book I’d recommend to anyone, but especially those who have been trying to build strong habits, or break bad ones, knowing those are the things that are holding you back. This will give you the formulas and the rituals to make that happen.
I’m super glad to support James for his launch, and I hope you take my recommendation and check out this book, too!