Looking for an extremely practical, incredibly interesting read about habits? Well, look no further than Atomic Habits by James Clear.
This book has had prime placement on the Pragmatic Thinking bookshelf since it was published back in 2018, so we figured it was about time we shared this gem with you.
Read on for a deep-dive Atomic Habits book review from our resident wine connoisseur and Cultural Strategist, Mikey.
The best bits from Atomic Habits by James Clear
There are three layers of behaviour change.
In the book, James outlines the three layers of behaviour change; a change in your outcomes, process or a change in your identity.
Each layer has a different focus – ‘outcomes’ is focussed on changing results, ‘process’ is on changing habits and systems and ‘identity’ is all about changing your beliefs.
James suggests that we approach to change by addressing each level, but we must start inside and work outwards – starting with the inner layer of identity, working outwards through our process then finally, outcomes.
Habits get reinforced with time.
“The effect of one-off experiences tends to fade away while the effect of habits gets reinforced with time, which means your habits contribute most of the evidence that shapes your identity. In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.”
The four laws of behaviour change.
One of the most valuable (and practical) sections of the Atomic Habits book covers the four laws of behaviour change. So, if you’re looking to break a bad habit or form better habits, this is what you need to know.
Habits are made up of these elements – a cue, a response and a reward. Over time you’ll begin to develop a craving for the reward, and that’s what forms and strengthens your habits.
When you put it all together into a process, there are four stages to be aware of in order to form or change a habit.
How to create a good habit:
1. Make it obvious (Cue). Cues are time and location-specific.
2. Make it attractive (Craving).
3. Make it easy (Response).
4. Make it satisfying (Reward).
How to break a bad habit:
1. Make it invisible (Cue). Make the cue invisible
2. Make it unattractive (Craving)
3. Make it difficult (Response)
4. Make it unsatisfying (Reward)
For more habit-changing goodness nab yourself a copy of Atomic Habits.
The key is to start with repetition, not perfection.
Maybe you’ve tried to do the New Year’s resolution thing to form a new habit but by mid-January, you’re already making excuses and thinking, ‘Next year will be my year, I might just ride this one out’.
An important point James Clear makes is that habits are built incrementally over time, and one of the most important success factors is mindset. “Each time you write a page, you’re a writer”. Small wins are the key here. You don’t have to be perfect in order to form a new habit, you just have to get your reps up.
Here’s what James says about this subject, “If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t need to map out every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it. This is the first takeaway of the 3rd Law: you just need to get your reps in.”
Who should read Atomic Habits?
You should! It’s both engaging, relatable and it feels like you might just be able to make it work. The truth is, behaviour change is not easy, and it takes time.
Most people give up before they start seeing results and that’s often due to poor strategy. The strategy provided in this book is both practical and proven and is an excellent resource to support the transformation you’re seeking.