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This is a wonderful book for tips on how to manage habits. But the author is more of a presenter of information than a clear thinker, and more work is needed to resolve some of the contradictions in his presentation.
For example, he uses the term "habit" to refer to three quite different things without taking into account the differences: First, what one might call "unthinking habits," such as making coffee first thing in the morning, automatically, no decision required, you just do it without thinking, but there is none of the progressive effect that Clear describes as a virtue of "habits." Unthinking habits are all about economy of effort in routine chores.
Second, "cumulative habits," which also don't require a decision or a lot of thought - you just do them, because you have got into the habit - but these result in a cumulative effect over time; for example, exercising after work, which can lead to quite substantial improvements in fitness with a little effort each time over a period of time.
Third, what are really "routines" rather than habits: for example, writing 10 pages of your novel before breakfast every morning. Once established, these are initiated each time automatically, because that's your time to do X, and they are cumulative (10 pages/day adds up to a complete book at some point), but they are most definitely not unthinking or automatic in their execution.
These distinctions are important because the three types of habit need to be handled differently. We don't need to think about automatic habits or even cumulative habits, during the rest of the day. But to make progress with a routine such as writing or any other creative endeavor, a constant mulling over outside the actual time of the routine involvement is essential. The first two are about economy of effort, while the third is about momentum of engagement and reaching a distant target with consistent application over time, but with very little "economy."
Another point: Clear says initially that we change our habits by changing our beliefs about ourselves (pp. 32-35), but this is manifestly untenable - believing you are a writer is not the same as actually writing a book, nor does mere belief lead to action. So he is forced to shift the narrative to seeing change of self as a matter of acting in a way that creates the person we want to be, by developing the right habits (as Aristotle described this), and there he is on sounder ground. But it would be helpful to the reader if he worked out these untenable lines of thinking beforehand and avoided taking the reader down them altogether.
Timothy Corwen (author, The Worth of a Person; https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1790698391/)
This isn't the first time I've read a book Frankensteined together from a blogger's blog. And that the original blog posts were Frankensteined together with info gleaned from books by other people. Like BJ Fogg, founder of the Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford (the Tiny Habits guy). Don't get me wrong, it's good to have all these behaviour tips from lots of different experts in one place. Let's face facts, it saves you having to read all the books James Clear has read on the subject. And I'll undoubtedly re-read it and extract notes next time. But from my initial read, I just felt there was something not quite right about it. It didn't quite flow. Like it wasn't put together in the right order, know what I mean? I dunno, maybe it was just my imagination and I'm being a meanie. See what you think...
Like many of his contemporaries, James Clear is here re-framing ideas that have always been with us, a combination of ancient philosophy and modern science. Commonly called 'self-help', another collective term of these works may be the genre of 'Intentionality.' Intentional living, being purposeful, and having a system to embed that purpose, to achieve a dynamic momentum that will propel you forward. Here the system is about noticing the triggers in our lives for good and bad behaviours, and being intentional about them. Building on them. So you build motivators onto and generate the triggers that are good for you and improve you. You make the bad triggers as intentionally as unpleasant as possible. The titular 'Atomic Habits' are the small things that on their own are negligible, but cumulatively, to borrow a key phrase from this book, they stack up, and tip the scales, one way or another. James Clear here gives us a system to help us tip the scales in our favour. Like many of this genre chapters are introduced with various hard won paths to success of those who have excelled at their craft, be that sports, business, science, arts. We then dig into the moral of their story and a new feature of the habits system is explored. Each chapter ends with a bullet point summing up. The book's soul is with behavioural science. It is a very 'bio-mechanical' view of life and endeavour that lacks mystery and real profundity. It's all rather clinical. Still, it's like watching a Ted talk where the person's breathless delivery at least makes you listen. And we can all do with a bit of extra intentionality.
In essence, this book explains that building good habits which are consistently applied in life are the key to long term success. Lots of small steps in the right direction work best - hence the use of the word "atomic" in the title. This compares favourably to setting ambitious goals and single mindedly working towards those in giant leaps which aren't sustained or sustainable if/once the goal has been reached. I suppose it's the difference between doing well in your studies because you do a little bit of work every day, research every essay thoroughly and do all the homework (these would all be considered atomic habits) and passing a course because you revise in the last week and ace the exam (or not). Ultimately, we all know that those who work hard consistently do better in the end than those who rely on talent, luck and erratic spurts of effort. It's an okay book which I read on the recommendation of a teacher, however, I personally prefer the book on Kaizen - One Small Step to Change Your Life. I think because I've grown increasingly chilled by the American "self help" style of book which makes for a very slow read and is packed with anecdotes to illustrate each and every point the author makes. However, I was completely impressed with the author's personal story which he uses to illustrate how he achieved incredible results in his life by structuring his time around excellent habits.
I can't say enough good things about this book and how it's helped me get more done, and have a healthier life. The logic of his steps just make sense. Keep at it and the next thing you know, you're finally feeling productive and overall there is improvement on many levels. My only worry, and the reason I gave it 3 stars is because of the beginning of the book where the author goes on and on about his accomplishments. It smacked of incredible insecurity and unwarranted over the top bravado. I wish he'd had the confidence to just introduce his beliefs and system and allow the process to speak for itself, otherwise I think some people will just stop before they even get to what matters in the book. I'd say ignore the first 1/4, and read the really good ideas that, if you stick to them, even haphazardly in the beginning, eventually before you know it, it all falls into place. You'll be glad you read this book and followed what this man passionately believes in. Good luck :-).