Atomic Habits, by James Clear – a book review

The first book I picked up in 2021 was ‘Atomic Habits’. The delivery actually happened on 30th Dec, but I resisted till 01 Jan 2021 to pick it up for reading J
And what a great choice of book it turned out to be! I read, as I mostly do, late and nights and early mornings, and finished it in about 2 weeks…thus forming an "atomic habit" of reading real paper books!

The basic premise of the book is to focus on systems and processes rather than goals. Since goals are generally longer term, it can be a little harder to maintain focus, and the life can become a bit pointless if you achieve your goals. Having systems and processes, however, to keep improving your performance may continue to motivate you for years to come, and achieving your goals, current and higher ones, will just become a byproduct of the process.

Another premise of the book is its focus on 1% improvement in all activities you undertake towards achievement of your goals. Through examples of various sportsmen, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals, the author drives home the point that deliberate practice, getting better each day at your craft, and having a continuous focus on improving your habits/rituals/routines, would lead to eventual achievement of your full potential.

By continuously focusing on improvement, and following the habits (using the 4 pointers enumerated below), slowly you begin to identify yourself with the habit. That makes the transformation magical! After running for a few weeks, you begin to identify yourself as a runner. Or, as in my case, a reader!
For the bad habits you are trying to break, you will move from “I am trying to quit smoking/drinking” to “I don’t smoke/drink”. That change in your internal dialogue, the identity, is what we are after eventually.

But most importantly, the author gives 4 key tips in making any new habit, and, by reverse logic, break bad ones:

  • Make it obvious
  • Make it attractive
  • Make it easy
  • Make it satisfying

And drives home the point using various examples and useful practical cases.

And for the many of us who already have reasonably good habits, the last chapter on ‘Advanced Tactics’ has the most value from the book. This is what moves you from good to great…and continue to improve further.

Overall, a great book if you are looking at inculcating new habits that will lead you to your desired goals in this new year (and the new decade!).


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