Habits that Stick – A review of James Clear’s Atomic Habits

Hello Everyone, 


Being away was not how I planned 2021, and this blog, but many changes happened in such a short time, and I needed to be away from the blog to steady myself and find my balance. I think I’ve tried to do just that so we’ll get straight into our review of our January Book of the Month – Atomic Habits by James Clear. 


I had many “Aha” moments while reading this book, and I am a raving fan. I previously shared some of my key learnings on our Instagram page @thisadultlife. I’ll go on to share the fundamental principles that James Clear shares in his book. 


On Habits


Habits are the building blocks of self-improvement. Your habits compound to form who you are – your good habits add up to who you are and the life you live. Same goes for your bad habits. So if you are looking to improve your life, it goes without saying that you should form better habits. 


If you want to improve your results, move from just setting goals to set the right systems for change. For instance, instead of a plan to lose 15kg, you should work to build an exercise routine. This helps you to create consistency, even after you’ve attained your goals.


Identity-based changes help you rewire yourself quicker, and are more likely to help you build lasting habits. As someone who is pivoting into Design, saying I am a Designer helps me think like one. I start to do things that Designers do, like redesigning apps, prototyping, and building a whole portfolio. This is an example of an identity-based change and how it can rewire your brain. You can’t be a writer and not write.


The 4 Laws of Habits


Make It Obvious: The first law of habits is Make It Obvious. Once you form habits, they become unconscious and automatic. To start a new habit, you need to “call it out” and repeat it. Conversely, calling out a habit you want to drop can stop you from unconsciously repeating it. Behaviour change starts with awareness, and this is where implementation intention comes in. Implementation Intention is basically how, when and where you intend to perform a habit. It increases habit formation. There’s also something called Habit Stacking. With Habit Stacking, you make one habit a cue for a new habit you want to form, e.g. after I meditate for one minute, I will work out for ten minutes. 


Make It Attractive: The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it becomes habit-forming. Temptation bundling helps to make your habits more attractive. For example, I enjoy spending time on social media, so I try to make sure that I only use my Twitter app after I have concluded my french lessons. 


Make It Simple: We’re wired to follow the path of least resistance so if we want to build good habits, it’s best to make it simple. For instance, if I want to develop a habit of working out, leaving home and going to the gym given my current lifestyle can be a hassle. So I simplified this by using a jump rope in my living room. If I want to starrt writing daily, using a writing app on my phone makes it simpler to write on the go. We’re likely to be consistent with simpler habits and we can beat procrastination by simplifying our habits. 


Make It Satisfying: If an experience is not satisfying, you will have little incentive to repeat it. Satisfaction completes the habit loop. Immediate reinforcement, rather than delayed gratification, is the key to building lasting habits. But how do you work out immediate satisfaction when delayed gratification is often better in the long term? James Clear uses the example of a couple who put $50 in their travel account every time they avoided dining out. The goal is to tie your habit to something long term satisfying.


Did you read Atomic Habits? What did you learn? Don’t forget our February book of the month. Did you miss that post? Catch up here