Atomic Habits by James Clear is a bestseller. The likelihood is that if you are reading this blog, you like reading! Consider the book you are ‘currently reading’, the intent with which you picked up that book will determine how you will feel about the book when you finish reading it. Does it really serve your purpose?
Why should you read this book?
I have been reading self-development books for at least a decade. For me, any book in this genre should support reader’s development by: 1) positively influencing the thought process, 2) improving their motivation to act, 3) creating self-awareness or by 4) triggering a shift in behavior or ways of working. And, it’s not a surprise that this international bestseller Atomic Habits accomplishes almost all of this, as highlighted below:
- It breaks down the habitual behavior into four distinct parts: this supports clear understanding and recall for readers
- I was inspired by author’s personal growth story because:
- author has lived what he is telling us about
- results he obtained by doing so are outstanding
- My awareness of my habits grew exponentially: Habits scorecard method is a great beginning
- I have been able to consistely repeat some habits which were always on my wishlist but I acted on those only sporadically.
- This blog is a good example. Total # of posts in year 2021 and 2022 combined is zero. 2023 – 6 posts and counting!
If you can relate to the intent I highlighted above, then you have a good reason to push this book up in your reading list. I strongly feel that the content in this book is presented in a unique manner and is easy to apply.
First part of the book sequentially focuses on ‘why of the habit’ and introduces the concept of identity induced habits – I act like the identity I relate to ( I am an athlete, so I run daily). Then it moves on to the beginning of any habit and emphasizes that ‘making it obvious’ is the trusted method that keeps you clued in to the habit. I think this idea is heavily influenced by Nudge (a book I liked very much). For example, I keep a water bottle on my work desk and it nudges me to drink water.
I liked how the author shifts the narrative from an individual’s motivation to a process or ecosystem that promotes habit formation. Many books on self development are often over indexed on self motivation. Habit stacking is a techinque that suggests to attach a desired habit to an existing habit. For example, after brushing my teeth (assuming you do it daily :D), I will read the newspaper.
Subsequent chapters focus on techinques that help in sustaining the new habits. Such as, bundling a reward after completion of habits, joining a culture where your desired habit is a norm or reducing the friction in acting out a habit. The 2 minute rule is unique and underlines the power of consistenly showing up . It suggests that if you don’t have time to complete the entire action , do a scaled down version of it for 2 minutes, like only taking time to wear shoes instead of going for exercise.
The portion of the book where I found the content lacking a bit is the fourth aspect of habit building i.e. making the habit satisfying. The suggestion on Habit tracking is good, I use it and find it helpful. However, I think the other suggestions such as getting an accountability partner, are better suited for sustainance rather than satisfying part of habit. What are your thoughts?
Overall, I would definitely recommend Atomic Habits to anyone interested in beginning or restarting their personal development journey. It’s a fresh take on habits and there plenty of evidence that it works, so why not get started? Cheers!
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