Atomic Habits by James Clear book summary

Atomic Habits by James Clear [Summary]

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Our habits shape our identity. Atomic Habits by James Clear offers a step-by-step plan for building better habits for a lifetime. The backbone of the manual is composed of a four-step model which includes: cue, craving, response, and reward. The book is full of practical advice, stories from famous leaders and worldly recognized athletes. A must-have for everyone looking for a way to change his life and direct it towards greatness.

The Core Idea:

“Change your habits and you’ll change your life,” says the author of the book, James Clear. The person running the website where he’s sharing articles and useful tips for adopting positive habits and cleansing the destructive behavior sabotaging our every move. The reason he is so obsessed with habits it’s obvious: humans are creatures of habits. If you teach your body and mind to do good things, consistently over time, good things will happen to you. If you’re willing to do the work, this book will teach you the essentials of habit change which will help you live a better life.

5 Key Lessons from Atomic Habits:

Lesson #1: Marginal Gains Strategy

A philosophy mentioned in the book states the following: “If you make tiny improvements in everything you do, you’ll inevitably improve your results.” This concept is called “the aggregation of marginal gains.”

The concept was announced first by Dave Brailsford – the performance director of the Britsh Cycling team in 2003. Brailsford said that “the whole principle comes from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

As simple as it might sound, the marginal gains strategy is extremely powerful.

This can be implemented in everything you do. In your business, life, even in your relationship.

If you slightly improve the efforts you put in all the different task that accompany а larger outcome, the overall result will be significantly better over time.

Consider for a moment the efforts you put in the gym. If you improve, slightly, your workouts, your diet plan, you drink less alcohol, eat less sugar, after a couple of months you’ll surely feel and look better. Initially, the tiny changes will feel insignificant, but after being repeated, over and over again, they’ll lead to great results.

Basically, by doing small improvements that sometimes are not even noticeable, you repeat them daily, you’ll gain. Sadly, not a lot of people are up for the challenge. Small improvements mean no obvious results, at least initially. Unfortunately, we, people, are kind of addicted to immediate gratification and waiting too long for results feels discouraging.

My suggestion: deconstruct your tasks, goals, or what you want to improve in small tasks and make small improvements. If you’re able to endure the lack of initial obvious results you’ll gain a lot over time.

Lesson #2: How Habits Work

A single habit can be disassembled into the following four steps: cue, craving, response, reward.

  • Cue: This is a visual signal (or it can be something else) that triggers your brain to initiate a certain behavior. The cue usually predicts a certain reward. For instance, when you enter a bakery the smell will be the cue. The reward here will be eating nice food.
  • Craving: The second step is craving. This is the motivational force behind every habit. It’s usually a feeling that comes after a certain act. For instance, after smelling freshly baked bread you’ll crave for it. You won’t crave for the act of eating, you’ll desire the outcome of that act – satisfying your taste receptors and feeling well-fed.
  • Response: The response state is the actual act. The habit itself. If the level of motivation is high, you’ll act. If we continue with the example from above, we’ll have to say that if we’re hungry, or the smell is really nice, we won’t resist the temptation. We’ll buy a burger or a bagel and eat it. Your response to the cue is the actual habit.
  • Reward: The response stage delivers a certain reward. It’s the final destination. If the cue is a smell, the craving is for a good taste in our mouth, the act is eating, then the feeling after, or while, we eat food is the reward.

That’s the whole process in short.

If the reward feels good, our brain will record this four-step process and execute it every time you smell something that feels good.

If you’re following along, you’ll understand that the fewer cues you encounter, and here I’m talking about mostly cues that have a negative outcome over your life, the fewer the negative outcomes.

Hey there, sorry to interrupt…

Since you’ve come this far, it seems that you are really passionate about books and learning. I’m too! And while what I’m about to say next probably won’t quite excite you, I have to say it…

Look, this is members-only content.

(Already a member? You can log-in using this link, here.)

I digest acres of complex ideas from various books and morph my findings into straight to the point book summaries. The main goal is not only to help you understand the underlying ideas from famous, and not-so-famous, titles. But, also, to help you stay curious, inspired, and well-informed. Above all, though, I want to help you transition from a passive online consumer to an active mindful go-getter with a sense of purpose.

By becoming a supporting member, you’ll unlock a well-curated online selection of book summaries that aim to move you in the right direction.

You can join as a MONTHLY ($7 USD), YEARLY ($70 USD), or PATRON ($100 USD) member. Read more about the membership, here.

Want the book?