Book Notes: Atomic Habits

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

I chose to read this book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, because I want to be accountable for my actions. I need to build better eating habits in general, from eating to exercising, so that I can be more productive and successful. I've changed certain habits, like drinking pop and eating pork, but I need to gain control of tougher habits that will make me more responsible. I want to fulfill your my potential with this "operating manual".


The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our habits.


How & Why James Clear wrote this book.

In November 2012, James began posting articles to his own website twice a week. He was keeping notes about his personal experience with habits. This is similar to what I am doing here. Taking notes on my creative journey. What I am learning along the way. This is also something that is recommended in one of my favorite books, Real Artist's Don't Starve by Jeff Goins. Jeff calls this "practicing in public". It is something that modern artist should do if they wan't to thrive. People love to see it. When I come across similarities like this, it lets me know that I am headed in the right direction. Gives me the courage to keep going. Back to James, within a few months of being consistent, he was able to grow his email list to thousands. At first he felt like an impostor bc he didn't feel he like a master on the topic. He was experimenting. As his audience grew, so did his business opportunities. That's basically how he got started.


I enjoy Jame's writing style because he is very well researched. The book is based on human behavior. I feel like behavioral nature is one pattern you can count on. I especially believe that after reading Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene, then applying the knowledge when I analyze people around me. The fact that Atomic Habits is also written bases on facts and certainties about human behavior makes me have faith that I can trust the info I am reading. I don't prefer a bunch of theories. I want facts, personal experience, and the experiences of many to back it up. Another thing I really appreciate about an author, is when they use stories throughout history to illustrate the lessons they are teaching. It makes the book more interesting to me. Robert Greene is also great at this. I love hearing about real world case studies and interesting stories.


Why small habits matter most.

  • It's better over time.

  • habits like compound interest, both good and bad.

  • Success is in your daily habits

  • Be more concerned with your trajectory, than your current moment

  • "Good habits make time your ally, Bad habits make time you enemy"

  • Knowledge builds up like compound interest. Warren Buffet

  • Everything compounds. Outrage, knowledge, stress, thought

  • What progress is really like.

The most powerful outcomes are delayed so don't quit. Habits need to persist long enough to breakthrough the plateau of latent potential. All big things come from small decisions.


Forget about goals, focus on systems instead. Goals are bout the destination, systems are about the journey. Focus on the journey, like Russ said in It's All in Your Head.

  • Winners and losers have the same goals. The goals cannot be what separates them. The difference is the system used to reach the goal.

  • Goals restrict your happiness. You're always putting happiness off until you reach a goal. They make you think in an "either or way". There are many ways to achieve goals.

  • What happens after you reach your goal? Do you get unmotivated and stop achieving? Do you set more

"You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems."


Prefer "I'm trying to quit smoking" or "I'm not a smoker". The habit needs to be part of your identity. If you're proud of the work you do, you'll find ways to paint. If you take pride in how you look, you work out. The goal is not to learn to paint, it's to be an artist. The goal is be healthy. The goal is to be calm and chill and wise ( I already am).


Progress requires unlearning


Change your Identity: The first step is the WHO? Choose who you are.

Every belief is learned. Habits are how you embody your identity. Each time I paint. I am an artist.

  1. Decide who you want to be. What do you stand for? Who is the type of person that can run a business? What would an organized person do? What would an organized person do?

  2. Take steps to prove it to yourself.

Exploring Exploring Exploring, then boom a reward. Habits are reliable solutions to normal problems we encounter in life. Skips the process of trial and error and creates a rule. If this, then that. Mental short cut created from experience.

The conscious mind is the bottleneck of the brain. You can only focus on one thing at a time. Habits create freedom. Good habits will free me up to do more of what I want in the future, like create.


Build better habits is 4 steps: Habits create freedom it doesn't restrict it. It creates the mental space needed to be creative. We need all 4 to create a reoccurring habit. The habit loop. It's endless