The first book I read this year was one I cannot stop raving about. Atomic Habits by James Clear is a best seller for a big reason. Its practical, approachable, easy to read but more importantly it is easy to implement and incorporates the lessons he shares into your daily life. There are many takeaways from the book. (I have the highlighted pages and sticky notes to prove it) but here are five bigs ones that have stuck out to me.
Lesson One: Keep a track of your habits using a habit tracker.
Something which should seem obvious is tracking your habits. I do this in my planner and in notion and it holds you to account, so you can keep an eye on your progress. The book actually delves deeper into this and talks to you about how you can hold yourself accountable on the days you don’t do what you planned to do by essentially setting yourself a forfeit, something James calls creating a habit contract.
Lesson Two: Change your mindset, habits are bringing something into your life, not taking it away.
We often feel habits are like chores that suck the joy out of life rather than giving us something. James talks about our mindsets and how we can change this to create good lifelong habits and getting rid of bad habits. He talks about the language we use about how we see ourselves and how we identify with certain traits that can hinder us on our journey to being the person we want to be. A change in perspective can change our outlook in life and how we see things. James does this by challenging the existing views we have on habits as a society and how we can amend these views as an individual.
Lesson Three: Adopt the 1% Rule
This is the idea that we improve ourselves by 1% each day. When we want to make a lifestyle change we often go all-in with rigour and excitement and while it feels exhilarating it often fizzles out leaving you feeling like you have failed and be unsuccessful in making a change. James looked at sports teams and saw how increasing their chances by just 1% a day generated more consistency and sustainability which led to long-term success. You can apply this to habits. Say you want to go to bed by 11pm compared to your usual 1 or 12 pm bedtime. You might not get there straight away. You may end up going to sleep at 11.30 that is absolutely fine and still a success. It is one percent closer to the pledge you made yourself. You know tomorrow you can match that or do a bit better until you get to that 11 pm sweet spot.
Lesson Four: When in Doubt, Habit Stack
This was actually something I did to an extent but didn’t realise there was a name for it or that I was doing it. Habit stacking is essentially tagging on a new habit to an existing one. For example, if you want to read in the morning you tag it on to something in your morning routine. maybe you read while you eat breakfast? Or for me personally, I wanted to make sure I pray in the morning so when I wake up and go to the bathroom I make sure to do my wudhu there and then ensuring I am all set and motivated to pray.
Lesson Five, Rebound and Rebound Quickly
James acknowledges that we are all human. Life gets in the way and sometimes our habits can falter. He gives you permission to be ok with this and reminds you that what’s important when you slip up is the actions that follow. He focuses on the importance on rebounding quickly, if you slipped back into a bad habit one day, remember tomorrow is a new day. You honed in the good habit you replaced this with so you can do it again.
Like I said, Atomic Habits is a transformative book. I have read a lot of self-help/ life skills books and this is honestly very easy to read, absorb, and then recreate in your everyday life. If you’re looking to up your habit game, I highly recommend it.