Book Review Inspiration

Lessons from the Book, Atomic Habits by James Clear

In the month of July, 2020, I read the book – Atomic Habits by James Clear.  In this book, the author takes us through a process through which he developed, practiced and mastered habits that eventually helped him to achieve many successful feats in life.

Below I have shared lessons I learned from the chapters of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear:


1. Infusing small habits into your daily lifestyle helps build your self confidence
2. A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and, in many cases, automatically
3. The desire to change habits comes from we being dissatisfied with our current state. Healthy habits helps us get to where we truly desire to be, and they take time to develop

Chapter 1-5

1. The aggregation of marginal gains is a philosophy that talks on searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do.
2. What we often need to cause dramatic changes in our lives is the tiny things we commit to doing ever time, and not necessarily the one big time thing we do inconsistently. These tiny changes are usually unnoticeable, but they accumulate over time to give us our desired result.
3. The Plateau of Latent Potential is that point we need to attain and cross for us to see significant changes in the habits we are making. To achieve desired results, we need to persist long enough to break through this plateau
4. Do not just think of goals to be achieved as a single entity, think of systems that will help you achieve such goals. Systems form the process for achieving a goal. Once your system is right, you are more likely to achieve your goal
5. We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems
6. There are 2 types of habits we can form:

  • Outcome Based Habits : This talks of what we want to achieve and motivates us to focus on the goal
  • Identity Based Habits : This talks of who we want to be, our identity we want to be formed.

7. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your
8. 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
9. For any habit formation to be effective, they must be tied to an identity formation. Meaning who you truly want to be
10. When you have mastered habits long enough, your brain immediately stores those habits and picks them up to use once needed
11. Before we can build new habits, we need to get a handle over the old ones
12. The author suggests that one of our greatest struggles with forming new habit is a lack of self awareness. The fact that we are not aware that we are forming these new habits
13. The author suggests that there are no good or bad habits, there are only effective habits, effective at solving problems
14. The way to change negative habits and form new ones is to acknowledge them even when no one is watching. This means that you are conscious of doing them even when no one is around to see you
15. Implementation Intention is a plan you make ahead about when and where to act. People who make a specific plan of where and how to perform with a new habit are more likely to follow through with it.
16. You need to be intentional about forming habits by setting a specific time frame in your daily schedule on when you should perform such habits
17. Habits don’t occur in isolation. One usually leads to another
18. Habit stacking means layering a new habit you are trying to form on old ones you already perform

Chapter 6- 10

1. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior
2. The kind of environment we live in greatly affects how we perform or develop habits.
3. It is important to create environment that aids performing healthy habits
4. Self discipline people have the ability to exert willpower even when they find themselves in tempting Environment to engage in unhealthy habits because they have over time built a structure around them through self discipline
5. We can stop habits but we don’t get to forget them. Once we are placed in an environment that can trigger such habits, we are more likely to engage in them
6. To make a habit more likely to occur, make it more attractive
7. Desire is the engine that drives behavior. Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response
8. Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do
9. We imitate the habits of three groups in particular:

  • The Close
  • The Many
  • The Powerful

10. One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior
11. Often time, the reward that our habit will deliver to us could be a great driver for engaging in such habit
12. Your current habits are not necessarily the best way to solve the problems you face; they are just the methods you learned to use.
13. Our behavior is heavily dependent on these predictions. Put another way, our behavior is heavily dependent on how we interpret the events that happen to us, not necessarily the objective reality of the events themselves
14.  Forming positive habits starts with a mindset shift
15. The key to finding and fixing the causes of your bad habits is to re-frame the associations you have about them. It’s not easy, but if you can reprogram your predictions, you can transform a hard habit into an attractive one

Chapter 11- 15

1. The difference between action and motion is that action produces results, motion remains at the stage of strategizing, planning and learning
2. The key to developing habits is to practice it repeatedly
3. The things that yield great returns in our lives often require much energy. (Deep Work)
4. To create a healthy habit, create a conducive environment where the habit can be a quick fix. For example, placing your phone in another room when you want to have time for deep work
5. We are limited by where our habits lead us
6. The Two Minute Rule states that when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do
7. A habit must be established before it can be improved on. This means, it should have been done very frequently that it becomes a part of you to do it
8. A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future.
9. The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impractical to do. Increase the friction until you don’t even have the option to act.
10. Some of the reasons why people struggle a lot with developing healthy habit when they know how important it is, is the lack of consistency
11. Do not choose a habit because of just immediate gratification. Choose a habit based on the future rewards it can give you
12. The more a habit becomes part of your life, the less you need outside encouragement to follow through.

Chapter 16 – 20

1. A way to enjoy engaging in certain habits is to set a tracker to track your progress
2. Habit tracking is a good way to know the progress you have made. It also keeps you honest
3. Often times, we get pumped up to start a new habit. But things can happen and we end up not being able to consistently engage in them. The best principle to adopt is to pick up and start doing them again. As much as possible, do not be fond of missing consistently days of not practicing your habit
4. A habit contract is a verbal or written agreement in which you state your commitment to a particular habit and the punishment that will occur if you don’t follow through
5. An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us
6. The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.
7. In short: genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity. As Physician Gabor Mate notes, “Genes can predispose, but they don’t predetermine”
8. Build habits that work for your personality
9.You don’t have to build the habits everyone tells you to build. Choose the habit that best suits you, not the one that is most popular.
10. When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different
11. genes can’t make you successful if you’re not doing the work
12. The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities
13. Focus is what differentiates success and failure
14. The painful truth is that when we engage in certain habits repeatedly, there is a tendency to get bored. But the ability to keep showing up even when we don’t feel like doing things is what differentiates us from the crowd
15. The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom
16. Habits are necessary, but not sufficient for mastery. What you need is a combination of automatic habits and deliberate practice.
17. Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
18. Do not always be in an auto pilot mode always. Have time to review your progress over time
19. We must guard against the self- identity trap that we become so fixated in a particular identity of ourselves and loose the ability to become something different. Our identity evolves with time

In Conclusion : The secrets to results that lasts

The power of Atomic Habits shows that small habits don’t just  add up, rather, they  compound. To master any habit, deploy the Four Laws of Behavior Change to it,  Make it Obvious, Make it Attractive, Make it Easy, Make it Satisfying.


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About the author

Joyce Olawunmi

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