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BOOK REVIEW Atomic Habits, by James Clear (Review & Discussion)

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MJ DeMarco

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Next book discussion begins as voted by forum members.

Grab the book if you haven't!
https://amzn.to/2SUzdFs

Atomic Habits, by James Clear




PLEASE USE THIS REVIEW FORMAT!

My Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star: :xx:
(The STAR/X emojis are under the emoji icon, under "commenting icons.")

Format:
Audible

My thoughts/review:
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Favorite (or least favorite) chapter:
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Key takeaways:
  1. Key takeaway #1
  2. Key takeaway #2
  3. Key takeaway #3
  4. Key takeaway #4



Feel free to comment, discuss, debate anyone's review/thoughts/takeaway!
 

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RazorCut

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Great. Time for a re-read me thinks.
 

rogue synthetic

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My Rating: 2.5 or 3 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::xx::xx:

Format:
EPUB

My thoughts/review:
I'm torn over this one. There was a lot good here, but something fell flat for me.

In the plus column, I like and agree with much of the message and the tactics. The book was structured well, flowed pretty easily, and I didn't have trouble skipping past the parts I didn't care about (of which there were many; more on this below).

All that said, this book didn't really click with me. I think it's because I've got fatigue from this genre of popular self-help books that try to weave narratives into a review of cutting-edge science. With a book like this, I don't care that much about the stories. I'm more interested in the advice than another collection of Malcolm Gladwell slice of life tales. The problem, as this book demonstrates, is that if you only got to the advice, you'd have an extended blog post. (That sounds harsher than I mean it to be.)

The practical suggestions themselves are pretty good. If you follow the four-step system, you will probably be better off, which is why I'm not too harsh on the overall message. But, as with most books in this genre, citations of published research in psychology and social science end up being more for social proof than the legitimacy of the ideas.

Since the general public doesn't really get the difference, this kind of work runs the risk of offering conflicting advice. At the bottom of that slippery slope is a bunch of confused people throwing up their hands and yelling to all that "you can find a study to prove anything!" This is already the status-quo in chatter about health and medicine, and now it's creeping its way into sciences of mind.

Worse, I have some reasons to be skeptical of the model of habits and the underlying psychology that Clear builds the book around. As I said, most of the practical implications won't be affected by this. But it still left me feeling like something wasn't quite right.

Still, that's mostly me griping about my own white whale. As a recommendation for others, the book is a good collection of actionable advice, it's an easy read, and it's a good place to dig in if you're new or just want a convenient action-plan to start making changes.

Key takeaways
Approach habit-change systematically, whether you're building a new good habit or getting rid of an old bad habit. Obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying activities are more likely to become habitual.

Build systems and structure your environment to create change. Automatic behavior beats good intentions and positive motivation.

Consistency with incremental process wins the race.
 

Chris25

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My Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star: :star:

My thoughts:
This is one of my favorite books that I read last year. Even though there were some concepts inside that I was already aware of, it still felt like a brand new take on everything. If you've read the Power of Habit, then this feels like it supercharges the idea of habit creation. It is well put together, and it flows nicely. I was not familiar with the author before this book but after reading it I had to check him out. Definitely worth a read.


Key takeaways:
1. Build systems, not goals.
2. The mind is countinuosly analyzing our internal and external enviroment for hints of where rewards are located. After you get the reward it analyzes the preceding actions.
3. Each habit can be learned by taking it down to two minutes. You can also stack habits together.
 

Primeperiwinkle

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I gotta get the boooook.... yay book discussions!!!! Woohooo!!!
 

Chx

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My rating: 3.99* / 5
:star::star::star::star::xx:

Format:
Audible

My thoughts/review:

Atomic Habits is a phenomenal read if you want to change something about your life.

(Hopefully, everybody reading this does...)

This book has it all:
  • Actionable advice for changing your habits
  • Pragmatic applications to business, fitness, addiction, parenting, reading, writing, meditation... at least part of this book will resonate with you, guaranteed
  • Well-crafted stories about the author's own life and others'
  • Science and statistics to back his claims up
James Clear is exceptionally well-versed in human behavioral psychology. At times, I felt that he was describing my own actions. On top of that, James's writing style is clear (pun intended) and readable.

To get the most out of this book, you obviously need to implement what you learn. So, I am going to start a daily meditation habit as per the guidelines in the book.
  1. Make it obvious. After I brush my teeth, in the morning and in the evening, I will meditate in my bedroom. (2x per day)
  2. Make it attractive. Meditation is seen as a positive and attractive habit on this forum and in other self-improvement communities.
  3. Make it easy. At first, I will only meditate for 1 minute per session. Hardly a challenge, but I want to have a foundation before I expand.
  4. Make it satisfying. If you've ever meditated before, you know that serene feeling right after. I will also implement habit tracking to make this more satisfying so I'm more likely to repeat it.
With that all said, why am I not giving this book 5 stars?

Simply put, I some of the concepts already.

Kaizen principle, action taking vs action faking, event vs process, habits dictate lifestyle, and other topics found in Atomic Habits are nothing new to me.

If I hadn't read UNSCRIPTED and TMF already, Atomic Habits would have been much more earth-shattering. And definitely five stars out of five.

Yet, I still recommend this book to everybody. Even if you don't benefit whatsoever from the advice, the book itself is pleasant and entertaining.

Favorite chapter:
Chapter 13, Procrastination and the 2-Minute Rule (Make it easy)

Main Takeaways:

  • Success, change, and growth result from small, repeated daily habits. Not large one-time events.
    • Over time, small habits accumulate compound into grand results. Your current results reflect your past habits. Your current habits indicate your future results. Good habits -> good results. Bad habits -> bad results.
    • 1% daily improvement leaves you 3778% better after one year.
    • Rather than setting goals, implement habit systems that will get you the results you want.
  • When implementing habits, focus on what you want to become instead of focusing on what you want to achieve. We don't stick to habits for the sake of doing them, we do them for how they will change our lives.
  • Any habitual human behavior can be simplified to the following feedback loop:
    • Cue - Your mind is constantly looking for triggers that it associates with a certain action. "I just got home for work" is the cue for "turn on the TV." The action has to be associated with something positive (e.g. "entertainment") otherwise you will avoid it.
    • Craving - Now you are considering the cued action. You grow a desire for the rewards that certain action will bring you.
    • Response - Doing the action.
    • Reward - We chase rewards because they satisfy our cravings and they teach our ape brains about which actions lead to the best rewards.
    • Start searching for the next cue...
  • Based on these above four steps, James has developed four rules for building better habits.
    • Make it obvious - Fill your environment with cues to perform the action. Associate the habit with a certain time or location. Or, do habit-stacking: "After I do [current habit], I will [new habit]." Environment matters more than motivation.
    • Make it attractive - The anticipation of a reward and a dopamine spike is what drives us to act. Your habit must be attractive so that you want to do it. Use temptation bunding, in which you pair an action you want to do with a new habit you are building.
    • Make it easy - Humans like to take the course of action which promise the most reward for the least effort. Reduce the friction for habits you are trying to build.
      • A foundation for a habit must be established before you improve it.
      • When you are starting a new habit, make sure it is something that can be completed in under 2 minutes.
      • Ritualize your habit.
    • Make it satisfying - Without a satisfying reward, you will not have any craving to complete the action in the future. An easy way to make any habit satisfying is to track and measure your habit. The feeling of making progress is very satisfying and habit tracking will give clear evidence of that progress.
  • To break or avoid bad habits, invert the four rules. 1) Make it invisible, 2) Make it unattractive, 3) Make it difficult, and 4) Make it unsatisfying.
  • Motivation is highest when we are working at the very edge of our current abilities.
  • Once habits are in place, regularly reflect and review your progress and make changes to your systems if you see fit.
* Deducting an additional 0.01 because of James telling me to go to his website every ten seconds.
 

Kyle T

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Anyone who likes Audiobooks... "Atomic Habits" is on the HiBooks app. It is a service that is like the Netflix for Audiobooks.

Unlimited listening for $10/month... Selection isn't the greatest but its still a good app to use and will save you money if you are only going to listen once.
 

Fassina

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My Rating: 2.5 or 3 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::xx::xx:

Format:
EPUB

My thoughts/review:
I'm torn over this one. There was a lot good here, but something fell flat for me.

In the plus column, I like and agree with much of the message and the tactics. The book was structured well, flowed pretty easily, and I didn't have trouble skipping past the parts I didn't care about (of which there were many; more on this below).

All that said, this book didn't really click with me. I think it's because I've got fatigue from this genre of popular self-help books that try to weave narratives into a review of cutting-edge science. With a book like this, I don't care that much about the stories. I'm more interested in the advice than another collection of Malcolm Gladwell slice of life tales. The problem, as this book demonstrates, is that if you only got to the advice, you'd have an extended blog post. (That sounds harsher than I mean it to be.)

The practical suggestions themselves are pretty good. If you follow the four-step system, you will probably be better off, which is why I'm not too harsh on the overall message. But, as with most books in this genre, citations of published research in psychology and social science end up being more for social proof than the legitimacy of the ideas.

Since the general public doesn't really get the difference, this kind of work runs the risk of offering conflicting advice. At the bottom of that slippery slope is a bunch of confused people throwing up their hands and yelling to all that "you can find a study to prove anything!" This is already the status-quo in chatter about health and medicine, and now it's creeping its way into sciences of mind.

Worse, I have some reasons to be skeptical of the model of habits and the underlying psychology that Clear builds the book around. As I said, most of the practical implications won't be affected by this. But it still left me feeling like something wasn't quite right.

Still, that's mostly me griping about my own white whale. As a recommendation for others, the book is a good collection of actionable advice, it's an easy read, and it's a good place to dig in if you're new or just want a convenient action-plan to start making changes.

Key takeaways
Approach habit-change systematically, whether you're building a new good habit or getting rid of an old bad habit. Obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying activities are more likely to become habitual.

Build systems and structure your environment to create change. Automatic behavior beats good intentions and positive motivation.

Consistency with incremental process wins the race.
I agree with you completely, I'd only rate it higher maybe a 4/5, from my experience this is good book compared to what else is around on the topic, maybe one of the best.. It's still full of filler and little unnecessary stories that add nothing and are just there so this can be sold as a book instead of a simple article.
 

ProblemOd

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star::xx:

Format:
Hardcover

My thoughts/review:
Nothing new here that I had not read elsewhere but it is always good to have a reminder, and the book is very easy to read. Includes practical advice that you can implement right away.

It reminded me the importance of doing something continously rather than sporadically. For example I used to meditate for 30 minutes every single day. Then for a brief period i completely stopped, and then recently I was doing it sporadically whenever i remembered to. Now I "habit stacked" both reading and meditation before bed + I don't pressure myself to do either activity for a long time, as long as I start, it is a win for me.

Also recently Ive been binge watching too much TV/social media. I've now unplugged the TV after every use and put a website blocker on my browser (it's actually crazy the habit I have of visiting this forum when I'm supposed to be working. At least every 30 minutes I would click on the fastlane forum bookmark without realizing what I was doing until the blocked site message popups).

Favorite (or least favorite) chapter:
Favorite chapter is Make It Easy. All you have to do is the habit for 2 minutes at the very least which doesn't take much will power.

Least favorite chapter is actually a sub heading called "How To Find A Game Where The Odds Are In Your Favor". He talks about how some people are genetically better at certain areas and how you should pick something that you are strong at. While there is truth to this, I don't see the need to talk about it. Its not something you should think about much because its very easy to get into a trap of "oh this activity is hard, maybe I wasn't born for it".

Key takeaways:
  1. Small habits have a compounding effect
  2. Focus more on the process
  3. Important to be aware of negative habits
  4. Don't rely on willpower alone
 

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Last edited:

MashaN

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My Rating:
:star::star::star::star::star:

Format:
Audible

My thoughts/reviews:

Good story and quite valuable information. Not a lot of new information but rather something that you hear all the time but it only starts making sense once you put to practice. And this book just might give you the right nudge to do so.

The only (somewhat) negative that I found was the slightly monotonic narration by the author.
Because I get a lot of my "reading'' done through Audibles, I usually assume that books which are narrated by the author will deliver the message in the best way possible, as it illuminates the challenges of explaining to someone else how you want your book to be read. But it almost sounds like James Clear is slightly bored while reading it. Maybe it's just me, and perhaps ''being very direct'' what author was going for, but I personally would add a little 'life' to it.

Main takeaway:

Since I have read the book (about 3 months ago), I have created my own habit journal and was able to be consistent with it. It really makes a huge difference when you record your progress vs just remembering it. It gives you a better idea of how habits can be improved, as well as the optimal time and method for building them. I highly recommend habit tracking to anyone who's struggling with sticking to a habit.

Another great takeaway was not focusing so much on a specific goal, because things don't go according to a plan all the time, leaving you feeling like a failure for not reaching your goal. Systems and habits are what matters the most when building the right mechanics to get where you where you want to be.
 

OlivierMo

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I am listening to it. Really liking it. What struck me so far was the correlation between habits and identity.
 

Olimac21

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I really liked the book and for someone who is not used to Habit literature/books (Charles Duhigg, Nir Eyal for example) it can be life changing, but I felt a lot of the things he talked about I was already familiar with.

My favorite idea was about Habit Stacking and the 2 minute rule
 

ProblemOd

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I am listening to it. Really liking it. What struck me so far was the correlation between habits and identity.
Yes i forgot to include this in my review also. The book got me thinking again about how I see myself, and why I do certain things.

When I was younger I would always say to myself and others "I'm just a shy person". This seemingly harmless speech led me to reinforce that identity and continue acting like a "shy person"...not speaking up for myself, and being afraid to draw attention to myself.

Another example is how I identify as a "fit & strong" person, but not really a "healthy" person. That's why I have no trouble going the gym and lifting hard but I won't mind scarfing down McDonalds right afterwards.

One that has had a positive impact is how I identify myself as someone who isn't in their own "bubble" & who is not afraid of making their presence known. This simple thought has created a habit that I haven't realized until I sat down and though about it. I noticed that every time I walk in the street I look at everyone in their eyes.

This is also why I don't really like the part where he talks about genetics and how you're bad at certain things. I get that part of it is important to know, but I worry about people having negative self talk that reinforces an identity where there doesn't need to be one.
 

SMH

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My rating: 3.99* / 5
:star::star::star::star::xx:

Format:
Audible

My thoughts/review:

Atomic Habits is a phenomenal read if you want to change something about your life.

(Hopefully, everybody reading this does...)

This book has it all:
  • Actionable advice for changing your habits
  • Pragmatic applications to business, fitness, addiction, parenting, reading, writing, meditation... at least part of this book will resonate with you, guaranteed
  • Well-crafted stories about the author's own life and others'
  • Science and statistics to back his claims up
James Clear is exceptionally well-versed in human behavioral psychology. At times, I felt that he was describing my own actions. On top of that, James's writing style is clear (pun intended) and readable.

To get the most out of this book, you obviously need to implement what you learn. So, I am going to start a daily meditation habit as per the guidelines in the book.
  1. Make it obvious. After I brush my teeth, in the morning and in the evening, I will meditate in my bedroom. (2x per day)
  2. Make it attractive. Meditation is seen as a positive and attractive habit on this forum and in other self-improvement communities.
  3. Make it easy. At first, I will only meditate for 1 minute per session. Hardly a challenge, but I want to have a foundation before I expand.
  4. Make it satisfying. If you've ever meditated before, you know that serene feeling right after. I will also implement habit tracking to make this more satisfying so I'm more likely to repeat it.
With that all said, why am I not giving this book 5 stars?

Simply put, I some of the concepts already.

Kaizen principle, action taking vs action faking, event vs process, habits dictate lifestyle, and other topics found in Atomic Habits are nothing new to me.

If I hadn't read UNSCRIPTED and TMF already, Atomic Habits would have been much more earth-shattering. And definitely five stars out of five.

Yet, I still recommend this book to everybody. Even if you don't benefit whatsoever from the advice, the book itself is pleasant and entertaining.

Favorite chapter:
Chapter 13, Procrastination and the 2-Minute Rule (Make it easy)

Main Takeaways:

  • Success, change, and growth result from small, repeated daily habits. Not large one-time events.
    • Over time, small habits accumulate compound into grand results. Your current results reflect your past habits. Your current habits indicate your future results. Good habits -> good results. Bad habits -> bad results.
    • 1% daily improvement leaves you 3778% better after one year.
    • Rather than setting goals, implement habit systems that will get you the results you want.
  • When implementing habits, focus on what you want to become instead of focusing on what you want to achieve. We don't stick to habits for the sake of doing them, we do them for how they will change our lives.
  • Any habitual human behavior can be simplified to the following feedback loop:
    • Cue - Your mind is constantly looking for triggers that it associates with a certain action. "I just got home for work" is the cue for "turn on the TV." The action has to be associated with something positive (e.g. "entertainment") otherwise you will avoid it.
    • Craving - Now you are considering the cued action. You grow a desire for the rewards that certain action will bring you.
    • Response - Doing the action.
    • Reward - We chase rewards because they satisfy our cravings and they teach our ape brains about which actions lead to the best rewards.
    • Start searching for the next cue...
  • Based on these above four steps, James has developed four rules for building better habits.
    • Make it obvious - Fill your environment with cues to perform the action. Associate the habit with a certain time or location. Or, do habit-stacking: "After I do [current habit], I will [new habit]." Environment matters more than motivation.
    • Make it attractive - The anticipation of a reward and a dopamine spike is what drives us to act. Your habit must be attractive so that you want to do it. Use temptation bunding, in which you pair an action you want to do with a new habit you are building.
    • Make it easy - Humans like to take the course of action which promise the most reward for the least effort. Reduce the friction for habits you are trying to build.
      • A foundation for a habit must be established before you improve it.
      • When you are starting a new habit, make sure it is something that can be completed in under 2 minutes.
      • Ritualize your habit.
    • Make it satisfying - Without a satisfying reward, you will not have any craving to complete the action in the future. An easy way to make any habit satisfying is to track and measure your habit. The feeling of making progress is very satisfying and habit tracking will give clear evidence of that progress.
  • To break or avoid bad habits, invert the four rules. 1) Make it invisible, 2) Make it unattractive, 3) Make it difficult, and 4) Make it unsatisfying.
  • Motivation is highest when we are working at the very edge of our current abilities.
  • Once habits are in place, regularly reflect and review your progress and make changes to your systems if you see fit.
* Deducting an additional 0.01 because of James telling me to go to his website every ten seconds.
Exactly what I need, will pick it up faster than I was supposed to. Thank you.
 

Process

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star: :xx:


Format:
Ebook

My thoughts/review:
This is a really good book for people who're fed up with their action-faking. Action fakers try to swallow an entire habit whole. That's like trying to swallow a prime rib whole. (painful and awkward.) Then, they gag and vomit their unchewed chunks back and blame it on the prime rib.

Atomic Habits shows you how to break your habits down into byte sized chunks for you to process more effectively.

Least favorite chapter
:
The book starts to drag on as you get in. It could probably be more condensed. There is no single chapter that I didn't like. I just wish they were more to the point.

Key takeaways:
  1. 1% improvements a day compound
  2. design your environment to limit distractions and temptations
  3. stack your habits so they flow together.
  4. track your habits
  5. systems > goals
It reminded me of another book I really like called How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big by Scott Adams.
 

LuckyPup

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Since the general public doesn't really get the difference, this kind of work runs the risk of offering conflicting advice. At the bottom of that slippery slope is a bunch of confused people throwing up their hands and yelling to all that "you can find a study to prove anything!" This is already the status-quo in chatter about health and medicine, and now it's creeping its way into sciences of mind.
I once was told that the fifth law of thermodynamics is, "For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD." ;)
 

OlivierMo

Bronze Contributor
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Feb 12, 2018
124
206
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Idaho
Yes i forgot to include this in my review also. The book got me thinking again about how I see myself, and why I do certain things.

When I was younger I would always say to myself and others "I'm just a shy person". This seemingly harmless speech led me to reinforce that identity and continue acting like a "shy person"...not speaking up for myself, and being afraid to draw attention to myself.

Another example is how I identify as a "fit & strong" person, but not really a "healthy" person. That's why I have no trouble going the gym and lifting hard but I won't mind scarfing down McDonalds right afterwards.

One that has had a positive impact is how I identify myself as someone who isn't in their own "bubble" & who is not afraid of making their presence known. This simple thought has created a habit that I haven't realized until I sat down and though about it. I noticed that every time I walk in the street I look at everyone in their eyes.

This is also why I don't really like the part where he talks about genetics and how you're bad at certain things. I get that part of it is important to know, but I worry about people having negative self talk that reinforces an identity where there doesn't need to be one.
Exactly. It's all the stories that we have in our mind, good or bad. Some stories have a double edge sword. I tell myself I'm still a kid for example b/c of an individuation problem :) It's bad in a way but I also have a ton of energy, sometimes more than young adults despite being 20 years older. And I don't have those little pains people complain about when they age. I put that on having that mindset. So I think being aware of the contradictions is also important.

My best habit has been exercising or playing sports since I'm a kid. Now if I don't, after a few weeks I get antsy. It's wired in me.

I started creating new habits this year. Practicing my singing diligently, reading more books and taking notes too. I hear those negative voices (parents) criticizing my hobbies but I need to have those habits override them now so that I can be the person I wanted to be and have the identity that comes with it.
 

Olimac21

Silver Contributor
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This might be a simply hack yet I find it very useful in order to implement habits or reminder about stuff I really have to do .

When adding a new habit to your life, use the Reminder app on IOS (or any similar one) to make the habit stick. For example you want to start doing Yoga in the mornings so you put around 6 am alert everyday: Yoga time. And of course you do not want miss your first to do thing on your day right? ;)

Also play a bit with the reward, I really liked the example in the book about the engineer that created a programme which allowed him to only watch Netflix while riding his stationary bike.
 

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luniac

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brooklyn
Normally i avoid these type of books, a name like James Clear with a blog site called jamesclear.com gives me guru vibes.
But i bought the book cause i promise id commit to the book club lol
about 50 pages into it so far and I feel like there's value here.
Some things Im already familiar with but im sure most of us here are.
Any source of knowledge that can help crystallize concepts in my mind is good in my book.
Will review asap once i finish.
 

Jay Cecrle

New Contributor
Jan 25, 2018
3
2
16
Hastings, NE
I used my Audible credits to pick this book up. Working through the first chapter and already like this book. I feel it will have a meaningful impact for me. The first chapter is a good reminder of the positive impact systems can have. This was a good reminder for me. I often get caught up in the day to day grind that is life and end up ignoring the basics. It is why I remain stuck in the slow lane. It is the neglect of small tasks the come back to bite me in the a$$ later as mountainous tasks that consume vast amounts of time. So far the analogy that has me thinking a lot as the airplane flying from New York to Los Angeles that is off by heading of only 1°. The difference becomes profound due to compounding.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Roli

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Jun 3, 2015
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My Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star: :star:

Format:
Paperback

My thoughts/review:
I loved this book, and I would highly recommend it for a number of reasons.

The message of the book has been delivered in a variety of ways in different books. However that is not a problem, if there was only one way to learn something, then there would be about fifty books in the world and that would be that.

The author is clearly very knowledgeable about habit forming and passes on this knowledge in an easy to digest format. The best thing about the book is the practical advice it gives, so it doesn't just bang on about the theoretical side of habit formation, it gives you easy-to-replicate tools which will help build good habits and break bad ones.

Quite often when I read a book like this I am very enthused as I read it, however am left at a bit of a loss once finished, only to have the information disappear from my head within weeks of reading it.

Habits is different because it gives you techniques that are extremely easy to replicate and tailor to your own needs. For instance Clear talks about a technique called Habit Stacking, whereby you put a habit that you want to engage in, on top of one you already do. In order to do this, you need to list all of the habits you have. This simple exercise has changed my mornings, and I have now incorporated a couple of habits that I've been trying to get started for a while now.

Favourite chapter:- Motivation Is Overrated: Environment Often Matters More

It's hard to pick out a favourite chapter because they're all so great. However I've gone with this one because it had some pretty big revelations for me. The first being that people whom I look up to as having laser like focus and bags of motivation, don't have any more reserves of will power than me!

In fact, these people have simply learned how to control and manipulate their environment so that they don't have to use willpower. In fact, Clear tells us that willpower is not a long-term strategy, rather it is a short-term solution.

Understanding how to manipulate an environment to suit your needs is key to becoming really successful, and until James Clear put it in that way, I hadn't really got it.

Key takeaways:
  1. Key takeaway #1 - The habit process can be hijacked and bent to my will.
  2. Key takeaway #2 - Willpower is a short-term strategy and should not be relied upon to help you carry out the tasks you need to get done.
  3. Key takeaway #3 - Habits form your identity, we are all essentially products of our habits. Therefore when changing a habit, or creating a new one, we are changing our identity.
  4. Key takeaway #4 - It is possible to build a whole new suite of habits using very simple techniques.
  5. Key takeaway #5 - There is a "valley of disappointment" that we all go through when starting a new habit. This is whereby our expected progress does not match our actual progress, therefore this is where most people give up. Clear gives us mental tricks to help navigate this valley and thus achieve success.
Who This Book Is For: This book is for people who struggle to remain motivated and focused and also for those who find it hard to maintain good habits and stop bad ones.

If you are the sort of person that naturally finds it easy to motivate themselves, then you will probably not get as much out of this book as I did.
 

OlivierMo

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Feb 12, 2018
124
206
156
Idaho
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star: :star:

Format:
Paperback

My thoughts/review:
I loved this book, and I would highly recommend it for a number of reasons.

The message of the book has been delivered in a variety of ways in different books. However that is not a problem, if there was only one way to learn something, then there would be about fifty books in the world and that would be that.

The author is clearly very knowledgeable about habit forming and passes on this knowledge in an easy to digest format. The best thing about the book is the practical advice it gives, so it doesn't just bang on about the theoretical side of habit formation, it gives you easy-to-replicate tools which will help build good habits and break bad ones.

Quite often when I read a book like this I am very enthused as I read it, however am left at a bit of a loss once finished, only to have the information disappear from my head within weeks of reading it.

Habits is different because it gives you techniques that are extremely easy to replicate and tailor to your own needs. For instance Clear talks about a technique called Habit Stacking, whereby you put a habit that you want to engage in, on top of one you already do. In order to do this, you need to list all of the habits you have. This simple exercise has changed my mornings, and I have now incorporated a couple of habits that I've been trying to get started for a while now.

Favourite chapter:- Motivation Is Overrated: Environment Often Matters More

It's hard to pick out a favourite chapter because they're all so great. However I've gone with this one because it had some pretty big revelations for me. The first being that people whom I look up to as having laser like focus and bags of motivation, don't have any more reserves of will power than me!

In fact, these people have simply learned how to control and manipulate their environment so that they don't have to use willpower. In fact, Clear tells us that willpower is not a long-term strategy, rather it is a short-term solution.

Understanding how to manipulate an environment to suit your needs is key to becoming really successful, and until James Clear put it in that way, I hadn't really got it.

Key takeaways:
  1. Key takeaway #1 - The habit process can be hijacked and bent to my will.
  2. Key takeaway #2 - Willpower is a short-term strategy and should not be relied upon to help you carry out the tasks you need to get done.
  3. Key takeaway #3 - Habits form your identity, we are all essentially products of our habits. Therefore when changing a habit, or creating a new one, we are changing our identity.
  4. Key takeaway #4 - It is possible to build a whole new suite of habits using very simple techniques.
  5. Key takeaway #5 - There is a "valley of disappointment" that we all go through when starting a new habit. This is whereby our expected progress does not match our actual progress, therefore this is where most people give up. Clear gives us mental tricks to help navigate this valley and thus achieve success.
Who This Book Is For: This book is for people who struggle to remain motivated and focused and also for those who find it hard to maintain good habits and stop bad ones.

If you are the sort of person that naturally finds it easy to motivate themselves, then you will probably not get as much out of this book as I did.
Love your summary. I agree will power is like energy, it's easy to run out of it. I have a treadmill in line of sight every day when I work and I use it for example. That's the environment even though I don't feel like getting on it (lack of will power.) I think the habit of visualizing and remind yourselves of the goal can however compensate for when you run out of will power.
I haven't gotten to the valley of disappointment yet but it makes sense. It's similar to the part of learning something new where it gets harder and you must go through it to have a breakthrough.
 

Roli

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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I think the habit of visualizing and remind yourselves of the goal can however compensate for when you run out of will power.
Clear actually says something different. He says not to focus on the goal at all, instead focus on the process.

So if your goal is to be an NBA player, focus on the amount of 3 pointers you're taking each week. Focus on how much you practice. In fact focus on how early you get to practice, then focus on trying to get 1% better everyday.

So it ends up being the small parts of the process you become obsessed with. Like say if your goal is to have a super fit, gym body. Then focus on getting your gym bag ready each night and leaving it by the door.

This triggers a habit and before you know it, you don't need willpower because you're doing things automatically.
 

struka

Bronze Contributor
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I enjoyed this book and can't wait to put it into practice. I used to wake up at 5am to workout but one day off became two days off then three and so on. But after reading this book I will try to wake up at 5am even though I am "too sore" or "too tired" just to create a habit.
I really like what he said about a phone being a huge distraction because it is used for so many things: calling, texting, apps, social media so it is very easy to get distracted. I went ahead and removed social media apps off my phone and only have it on my tablet which I do not carry with me at all times or especially not during work. I am hoping this will help me with the small distractions that seem to add up throughout the day.
 
OP
OP
MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

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Halfway done... really resonates with a lot of stuff I wrote about in Unscripted; processes over events, identity, feedback loops, etc. Really enjoying it unlike that last one. ;)
 

Dylan in Africa

Worldwide Educator
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Results have little to do with the goals we set and nearly everything to do with the systems we follow.

Goals are the results we want to achieve.

Systems are the processes that lead to those results.

If you want results, forget goals. Focus on your system.
 

LuckyPup

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Okay, here's my second pass at this review...

My Rating:
4.5 stars out of 5 stars
:star::star::star::star::xx:

Format:
Audible & Hardcover

My thoughts/review:

I listen to audio books more than I read physical books, at about a 4:1 ratio. If an audio book is good enough or if I want to dig more deeply into the material, I’ll read the physical version. This is what I did with Atomic Habits, both because we’re discussing it and also because I found the content valuable. In short, I think Clear provides plenty of actionable advice.

Although the book is derivative of other works, like Charles Douhigg’s The Power of Habit and Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect, I felt that Clear does make new contributions to the subject of habits, which is a well-trodden arena.

I think it's true that there are no new ideas, and the book calls to mind a favorite quote of mine, which has been attributed to various people, from Gandhi to Emerson:

Sow a thought and reap a word;

sow a word and reap an action;

sow an action and reap a habit;

sow a habit and reap a character;

sow a character and reap a destiny.

These are words I try to live by since I first read them years ago, "try" being the operative word.

Favorite (or least favorite) chapter:

I found good content in every chapter and there wasn’t a particular chapter I didn’t care for. The introduction was slightly annoying, only because origin stories seem self-serving and set off my “marketer detector."

At times I became annoyed while reading Atomic Habits, and I’m trying to sort out if it’s Clear or it's just the cynicism I’ve developed from reading a lot of self-help, marketing, and non-academic work lightly grounded in science. I'm wary of any author whose work has an underpinning of self-promotion; someone who has self-branded website or blog, a paid program, coaching or more.

I realize I should differentiate the product from the packaging, but there's a sameness to this stuff, and I'll call it the "Brunson Effect." I’m tiring of authors who use their books as a lead magnet to enter a funnel which leads to an entire (paid) platform or “system” of doing things.

With that being said I can forgive Clear for his approach because his content is pretty damn good, unlike many authors in this genre.

Key takeaways:

Key takeaway #1: Forget about Goals and Focus on Systems

Clear admonishes the reader to focus on identity-based habits, rather than outcome-based habits. As a recovering wantrapreneur, this was huge for me. I wasted many years and lots of money being event driven, yet failing to understand why I never reached my goals. Clear’s advice also parallels MJ’s advice to be process-driven, rather than event-driven. (I think that was in MJ’s writing. Perhaps I remember it wrong. In any case it’s time for me to reread Unscripted. And yes, I am shamelessly kissing a$$.)

"The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your beliefs about yourself."

This is powerful stuff, and I think it reiterates the importance of having a growth mindset (vs. a fixed mindset), a key predictor of success (Google Mindset, by Carol Dweck).

Key takeaway #2: Environment Trumps Willpower

I agree with the four laws of behavior change, and I like the actionable advice Clear gives on how to change one’s environment to facilitate change, rather than relying on willpower or motivation. This isn’t new advice, but I’ve tried it and it works. If you want to stop eating sweets, don’t buy them and don’t have them in your house, period. Motivation and willpower may work short term, but in the long haul environment trumps them both.

Key takeaway #3: Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop

Having dealt with depression most my life, the dopamine / neurotransmitter research is very interesting to me. I find it fascinating that the anticipation of a dopamine hit is a stronger driver than the hit itself, due to the tolerance we develop over time. Temptation bundling is an interesting concept, and although I'm skeptical I'll give it a try.

Key takeaway #4:The mismatch between immediate and delayed rewards

"What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided." Turning instant gratification to one's advantage seems to be the cornerstone of success. This concept is so obvious and simple, yet SO hard to put into practice, as evidenced by all the overweight and poor Americans.
 
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