Book Review: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Recommended by: A gazillion people, but most recently Trevor Swanson
We all want to build great habits, be it eating healthy, exercising more, or reading more. However it is not long before we realise that sticking to habits is way harder than merely declaring them. How do we get ourselves to stick to our own commitments? This book offers answers.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
James suggests that we should approach habit change as identity change. You should not want to eat healthy but instead aim to be a “healthy eater”. You don’t want to be in remission, you want to be the person who does not drink. In this way, habits are definitive of who you are as opposed to what you do.
How do you change your identity? James suggest that every time you do an action, it casts a vote for your identity. For example, every time you work out, it casts a vote for being the kind of person who stays healthy.
YOU DO NOT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF YOUR GOALS. YOU FALL TO THE LEVEL OF YOUR SYSTEMS.
How do you stick to habits without getting demotivated? You create systems. Too often we judge our progress based on outcomes. You might start working out and might get discouraged if you don’t see a six pack within a few months. James suggest instead of looking at outcomes, we should look at the strength of our system. Do you have an exercise routine? Do you have a meal plan? If your system is strong, your outcome will follow.
While I do recommend reading this book, I do think there are a few shortcomings. A tendency to improve habits might promote self-hate. For instance, if you want to build habits around working out and going to the gym, this book offers solution how to do that. However, it is worth questioning why you want to work out in the first place. Is it to look good so that then you will feel deserving of dating men/women? If that is the case, then the solution is in healing that need for approval, not in working out. Have a listen to some of my episodes on self-worth to understand this deeper.