I’ve recently begun reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and although I’m only a few chapters in, this book is bursting with helpful tools to becoming your very best self. It’s so loaded with information that I ended up with pages of notes just from the first chapter. If you ever read this book as I sincerely hope you do, I highly recommend doing so with a pen and notebook handy. I also tend to highlight, circle, underline or notate my favorite quotes and tips in the book itself. You’ll get much more out of it if you are actively contemplating the information as you read. This is not a book that you read for the sake of reading. Pick it up with the intent to learn and I guarantee you will be amazed at the changes you’ll be inspired to make in your life.
It would be nearly impossible to articulate all the little improvements I’ve been motivated to attempt in a single blog post so instead, I thought I’d simply share my key takeaways from each chapter as I go. Here are a few of my favorite bits from chapter 1.
“Success is the product of daily habits - not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your results.”
“Mastery requires patience.”
Throughout this chapter, Clear returns to the idea of making one microscopic change every day until it becomes a habit (no wonder the book is called ‘Atomic Habits’). The payoff is often neither obvious nor immediate and people become discouraged before ever achieving that fabulous breakthrough that would have made everything worth it. I’ve been guilty of this far more frequently than I care to admit. I think I’m pretty good at motivating myself to change my ways but after a couple weeks I inevitably fall off the wagon. My exciting latest exercise regime or shiny new task management system never seems to work as quickly as it should. Completely overhauling my daily routine never turns out to be worth the effort and peters out eventually.
This is exactly the kind of situation that Clear’s book seeks to avoid. It’s not about rearranging your life in one day or even one week. Just complete a single extra task every day. It doesn’t have to be significant or life changing. Just do one thing differently. Clear speaks on the goal mentality that most people have when it comes to self improvement. They train for a specific race or diet to achieve a specific weight. What happens after that? The motivation that helps you get to those milestones doesn’t always carry you past them. Good habits can go by the wayside when the goal has been accomplished. I can pinpoint countless moments in my life when that is precisely what happened.
Thus, going forward the new idea that I will carry through my day-to-day after digesting the first chapter of Clear’s book is this. Don’t put happiness off until the next milestone.