Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Each month of this year, you’ll see a book summary or two (or three if I’m really ambitious) from me. They will include my top 3 take aways, 2 of my favorite quotes, and 1 thing I’m doing with what I learned.

My first book summary is on Atomic Habits by James Clear. I wasn’t familiar with him before reading this book, but his points in the book as well as his newsletter have impacted me significantly. If you don’t already subscribe to his weekly emails, I HIGHLY suggest you do it. I normally hate getting emails, even if I signed up for them because I don’t see the value in the information that’s being shared and it’s normally about a sale or a long post that I’m not ready to read at 3:22 PM during a work day. His emails are short, sweet, to the point, and change your thinking. He shares a 3, 2, 1, mentality where he goes into 3 ideas from him, 2 ideas from someone else, and 1 question. Hence the way I plan to share my take aways from the book summaries I’ll share this year.

I promise I will not write a book summary that is just an “ok” book. My hope is that by the amount of books I’ve read, I can sort through the real WINNERS from the rest of them. So first up – Atomic Habits.

3 TAKE AWAYS:

  1. Creating Systems
  2. Habit Stacking
  3. 1% Change

    (Read about all three of these below in further detail)

2 FAVORITE QUOTES:

  1. “Problem #1: Winners and losers have the same goals.”

    I think we all already know this, but I”m not sure how many of us have REALLY taken the time to think about this. I know I haven’t. Your goals don’t help you improve, your vision, turned into a goal, turned into systems is what changes you. It is literally your habits and not your goals that determine the trajectory of where you’re going.

    Clear wrote an article that talks about the 1% rule where he focuses on the mindset of being slightly better which creates marginal gains. He summarizes it this way – “Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.  Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”

  2. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

    Wow. Yes Mr. Clear sir. This goes back to the point above, but just because you SET a goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve it. It means you have a goal, but not a plan. And you’re probably familiar with the saying that a dream (or goal) without a plan is just a wish. I’m not okay with just wishing something happens, I want to make it happen. So that’s where systems come into place. The simplest way to put it is this:

    Set a goal. Then break it down. What are you doing, in what capacity, and by when? Make sure the goal is realistic, able to be measured, specific, and has a timeframe.

    THEN create the system. Break it down further. And further. And further. Until your daily habits become your weekly routines which fall into your monthly measures which add up to you reaching your goal.



    EXAMPLE:

    GOAL: I want to post 100 blog posts by December 31st of 2020.

    Cool. That’s a lot. Where do I start? Enter the system….

    SYSTEM: Break down each of the 12 months into how many I need to write per month. That’s 8.3 blog posts a month, so let’s round up to 9.

    BREAK IT DOWN AGAIN: Since there are about 4 weeks per month, that would mean 2-3 blog posts a week.

    EVEN SMALLER: What days will I post? All at once? Spread out? When I have time? How will I make sure I do 3?

    STILL SMALLER: I will schedule my posts to post 2x a week on Tuesdays and Fridays and then some months I will post on a few Sundays.

    KEEP GOING: Now that I know when I”m posting, what the HECK am I posting. That’s a LOT of posts. Separate them into categories. Pick from the categories you want to post and during which weeks and months.

    DONT STOP: Now you have categories, and which categories each week, and you know how many per week and what days. NOW it’s time to write it out. Write out the date of each post. Put the title and topic beside it and some notes of what you want to include. Do this for EVERY month. Leave some blank space if you’re not sure what you want to post, but have a good plan for the next 2-3 months.

    ALMOST THERE: Now schedule some posts. Just create a blank page. Put in the title. Write some notes in the post, and have it scheduled for certain days. Limit so it can’t post without you approving it, but now you have the whole skeleton for what you need. If you follow your plan, you will literally post 100 posts and know exactly which days which posts and how often they will go out.

    SO CLOSE: Now plan when you plan to write the content. Pick a few days each month and block off your time. Know what you’re writing and when. Write out your deadlines. Write out the system you have in place.

    BAM.

    Now get to work. Actually put in the time and DO THE WORK. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of all. 😉 I can speak from experience since the goal and break down of the goal is my own personal goal for this year and is the plan for how I’m doing it. I have the Google Docs and the scribble pages to prove it.

    So now, not only do I have a goal, but I have a system in place to achieve it.

1 CHANGE I’M MAKING:

  1. If you made it through the example above, what I’m implementing is a combination of the creating of systems along with the concept of habit stacking. Habit stacking is inserting positive habits after habits you already have.

    EXAMPLES:

    Drinking water immediately after sending an email
    Doing 10 pushups immediately after closing your laptop
    Putting on your workout clothing immediately after walking in the door after work
    Saying 3 things you’re grateful for as soon as you put your feet on the floor in the morning
    Praying right after getting in your car and shutting your door
    Washing your face immediately after putting on your PJs

    All of these are examples of adding a good habit after other habits that are already in your routine. They are creating a string of habits that build upon each other and positively impact your day. For me, drinking water, my gratitude, and washing my face before bed are just a few of the positive habit stacks I’m working into my routine of 2020.