Atomic Habits [Book Review] #NonFiction #SelfHelp

Atomic Habits is a framework for improvement that is packed with practical strategies and thoughtful insights into behavior change.

Do you have one habit you’d like to acquire or one you’d like to break?
What is an “Atomic Habit”?

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear (cover) Image: gold and black text on a white background....very small black dots (atoms) surround the gold title

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Essay, Self-Help, Psychology

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My Summary of Atomic Habits:

Atomic Habits is a framework for improvement that is packed with practical strategies and thoughtful insights into behavior change. James Clear provides a systematic approach for those interested in self-improvement. He makes the complex and overwhelming simple and doable. His thoughts are motivational for teams, organizations, and individuals.

My Thoughts:

People of a “Certain Age”

Some of us who have enjoyed a full and productive life have figured out some effective life habits by trial and error or success and failure.

  • I learned the hard way through my teaching career that if you don’t “work ahead,” you “work behind.” Because I DISLIKE working behind, I developed habits that helped me work ahead. I set up my assignments, assessments, and grade books to facilitate hours of grueling report card preparation. In other words, I avoided last minute assessments because I needed a grade, and I tweaked assignments to match exactly what I needed for standards-based report cards. In addition, I started report card prep the minute they were accessible online and entered marks for one category at a time, day by day. Whereas other teachers might accomplish the same task over one nightmare inducing weekend.
  • Upon needing to clean and organize my garage and procrastinating for months because I dreaded the hours and full week (or more!) it would require, I finally set myself a doable schedule of 15-30 minutes once a day. I quit when the timer went off and didn’t think about the task again that day. To make the most use of my time, I would think ahead a bit on which area I would tackle (even if it was just one shelf). Eventually, I mastered the garage without burnout, exhaustion, or feelings of overwhelm.
  • Rather than complete deprivation, I learned over time to take the slow and steady approach to dieting by implementing small changes over time.
  • In blogging, I start a rough draft as soon as I’ve finished a book or have an idea for a discussion post. I no longer torture myself creating a post to meet a deadline in one sitting.

I’m sure you have many examples from your own life where you’ve developed habits to achieve desired results.

The Magic of 1%

One of the most important and compelling concepts in Atomic Habits is the idea of a1% change and how effective that small change can be over time (like compound interest in our financial investments). This reminds me of my above examples. I really changed only 1%, but consistency pays off over a period of time! Part of the enjoyment of reading self-help is to realize that we might be smarter and more intuitive than we imagine! It is motivational to know that a strategy I’ve used has a label and is endorsed by a professional! It wasn’t simply me tricking myself into getting results. Over time, this 1% change is the building block (atomic unit) of establishing new habits with big results.

Favorite Highlights

Improving by 1 percent …. changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results, But with better habits, anything is possible.

The holy grail of habit change is not a single 1 percent improvement, but a thousand of them.

Atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results.

The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom

That’s the power of atomic habits. Tiny changes. Remarkable results.

Small habits don’t add up. They compound.

Each of the people, teams, and companies we have covered has faced different circumstances, but ultimately progressed in the same way: through a commitment to tiny, sustainable, unrelenting improvements.

Atomic Habits is Helpful For Everyone

I believe this book will offer motivation or inspiration for everyone no matter where you find yourself on the “habits” continuum. Because I enjoy reflection, I love thinking about my own habits and why they have served me well or not. I love the psychology behind behavior and this new awareness helps me be more mindful of my behaviors.

Structure and Writing

I enjoy a book that is nicely structured and builds sequentially. In an “easy reading” style, the author’s thoughts are nicely developed and communicated. James Clear takes complex ideas and presents them in a simple, encouraging, and compelling manner.

Recommendation For Atomic Habits

I wholeheartedly recommend Atomic Habits for fans of self-help, for readers who love thinking about the psychology of habits, for individuals needing motivation or inspiration to change a certain habit, and for young adults just establishing their lifelong habits.

Related: I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet is a memoir written by someone who faces a big disappoint and needs to rethink her life, her patterns, and expectations when the old ways don’t work any more.

My Rating:  4 Stars


Atomic Habits by James Clear (cover) Image: gold and black text on a white background....very small black dots (atoms) surround the gold title

More Information Here

Meet the Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear

Author of Atomic Habits, James ClearJames Clear is a writer and speaker focused on habits, decision making, and continuous improvement. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits. The book has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Clear is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies and his work has been featured in places like Time magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and on CBS This Morning. His popular “3-2-1” email newsletter is sent out each week to more than 1 million subscribers.


Is this self-help book on your TBR or have you read it?

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  1. I listened to this book on spotify, it was so satisfying to hear all these tips. You have inspired me to go back to it and listen. I am hoping to apply the tips, I love to hear them.

  2. Great practical advice in this book! I like to plan ahead too. I try to schedule blog posts about 2 weeks out when possible.

  3. I am a big believer in habit formation. Habits help us accomplish the things that we really want to get done or that really matter. My son read this book and really liked it. I haven’t read it yet, but hope to in the future. Great review, Carol!

    • Thanks Gretchen! I think you’ll enjoy the book! It was enlightening to reflect on our habits and how we establish them! I even think it might be a practical graduation gift for young adults!

  4. The small steps approach is something I encouraged all my team members to adopt. I found so often that they would procrastinate when given a big project and always find some reason why they hadn’t started. They focused too much on the big task, and not thinking how it could be broken down to smaller more manageable steps.

    I like your approach to review writing. There are too many times now when the length of delay between reading the book and reviewing it means I’ve forgotten many of the details and have to go back to the text to fill in the blanks. Very time wasting

  5. I absolutely loved this book. I read it first in 2021 and I am rereading now at the start of 2022, I find that is a great book to start off the new year. Great review!

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