Atomic Habits Book Summary - Atomic Habits Book explained in key points

Atomic Habits summary

James Clear

An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

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What is Atomic Habits about?

Atomic Habits (2018) provides a practical and proven framework for creating good habits and shedding bad ones. Drawing on scientific research and real-life examples, it shows how tiny changes in behavior can result in the formation of new habits and help you achieve big things.

About the Author

James Clear is an author and entrepreneur who focuses on habits and their potential to support self-improvement. In a weekly newsletter received by hundreds of thousands of people, Clear writes about the science of habits and human behavior, sharing stories from his own life and from the lives of top performers in business, sports, the arts and other fields.

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    Small habits can have a surprisingly powerful impact on your life.

    To kick things off, I want you to imagine a plane preparing to take off from Los Angeles. The plane's destination is New York City. The pilot enters all the correct information into the plane's computer, and the plane takes off heading in the right direction. But now imagine that, not long after takeoff, the pilot accidentally changes the flight path slightly. He only changes it by 3.5 degrees – which is nearly nothing, just a few feet. The plane's nose shifts slightly to one side, and no one – not the pilot, not the passengers – notices anything. 

    But over the journey across the United States, the impact of this slight change would be considerable. At the end of their journey, the confused passengers – and even more confused pilot – would find themselves landing in Washington DC, not New York City. 

    So, why am I telling you this? 

    It's because – just like the confused pilot – we don't notice tiny changes in our lives. Small changes leave a negligible immediate impact. If you are out of shape today, and go for a 20-minute jog, you'll still be out of shape tomorrow. If you eat a family-size pizza for dinner, it won't make you overweight overnight. 

    But if we repeat these small behaviors day after day, our choices compound into major results. Eat pizza every day, and you will likely have gained considerable weight after a year. Go jogging for 20 minutes every day, and you'll eventually be leaner and fitter, even though you won't notice the change happening. 

    You've probably worked out the main insight here: it's that small habits can have a surprisingly powerful impact on your life – and you won't necessarily see this impact happening in real-time. You'll only see the results of your habits after a while.

    Now, we know that not seeing the impact of your efforts can be dispiriting. If this is happening to you – if you're feeling discouraged by the lack of immediate positive change – then it's important to try to focus on your current trajectory rather than your current results. 

    Let's say you have little money in the bank. But you are saving something each month. Your current results might not be that great – your nest egg is still pretty small. But you can be confident that your trajectory is right. Keep going in this direction and, in a few months or a few years, you will notice a major improvement. When the lack of perceived progress gets you down, remember that you're doing the right things and that you're moving in the right direction.

    But how do you get yourself on the right trajectory? You need to develop habits. In the next blink, we'll learn how they are built.

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    Who should read Atomic Habits

    • Those who want to form better habits, or shake off bad ones
    • People who love understanding why they behave in a certain way
    • Achievers hoping to achieve even more

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