Book Notes #003 - Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Rating 4.5/5

Topic: Non-Fiction

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Favourite Quote

“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.”


If you struggle to find a rhythm in your daily routine or you would like to optimize your busy schedule and make more time for the activities that you care most about, this is the rigth book for you. We recommend reading this book if you are looking for practical advice on how to improve your daily routine or break bad habits that are holding you back.


In this section, you will find the most important lesson to learn from Atomic Habits by James Clear. Let’s dive in!

  • 1% Better Every Day

This lesson is all about what happens when you repeatably improve yourself 1% better every day over a period of one year. If you get better by 1% every day for a year by the end of the year you will be 37 times better.

Whereas if you get 1% worse every day, you will end up in a worse spot than where you started. This can happen from tiny poor decisions such as ignoring your responsibilities and not taking care of yourself mentally and physically.

Refer to this graph to see how the improvement curve changes and compounds over time as you get 1% better every day versus how the decline curve progressively gets worse over a one year period.

The power of tiny gains, 1% better every day versus 1% worse every day.
Source: Continuous Improvement: How It Works and How to Master It.

It is common to see people get unmotivated when they don’t see results after a week or month of work. But often great success is right around the corner and all you need to do is stick with progress over perfection and make an effort to improve by 1%.

  • The Plateau of Latent Potential.

“Mastery requires patience.”

“if you find yourself struggling to build a good habit or break a bad one, it is not because you have lost your ability to improve. It is often because you have not yet crossed the plateau of latent potential.”

How often has this happened in your life? When working on a side hustle and giving up because the project hasn't taken off as quickly as you hoped or planned for? Or how about when you were working on losing some weight and getting in better shape but then plateau and don’t see any changes in your scale? Does that mean that all the hours and work you are putting in are worth nothing? Of course not you just haven't passed the threshold to harvest the reward of your hard work just yet.

“When you finally break through the plateau of latent potential, people will call it an overnight success... Change can take years—before it happens all at once. Mastery requires patience.”

  • Systems over Goals.

“Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.”

“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the process that lead to those results.”

Goals are a tool you can use in the direction you would like to go for example losing 10lbs and getting into shape. Whereas the system is going for daily walks, staying hydrated, eating within your macros, taking cold showers for muscle recovery, working out regularly, managing stress through journaling and cognitive behaviour therapy and having a good sleep routine.

Systems can stay with you for a lifetime whereas a goal is a temporary change.

“Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the resulting level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the system level.”

  • How To Start A New Habit & Habit stacking.

To start a new habit use this formula:

“I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”

What is habit stacking? It is when you add new behaviour to your daily routine by stacking it on top of an existing habit.

  • An example would be after having a cup of morning coffee/tea you grab your journal and write out your intention for the day along with 3 things you are grateful for.

To start stacking habits use this formula:

“After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”

  • Priming Your Environment

If you want to start acting on your good habits you need to prime your environment to encourage that behaviour.

If you want to be a more “disciplined” person then you should put yourself in better situations where there is less temptation. “... the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.”

  • The Two-Minute Rule

“Even when you know you should start small, it’s easy to start too big.”

You want to use the two-minute rule “when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” It is best to start with something very easily such as writing one sentence, instead of writing a book.


This book will help you get out of a bad routine and quit habits that are not serving you. James shares lessons through stories and exercises on how to structure your day into tiny habits that will provide remarkable improvement to your life.

You might also like our book notes on...

  • Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy The Odds by David Goggins

  • Excellent must-read/listen for anyone wanting to undertake a challenge and transform their mind and the way they approach the problems in their life. We recommend listening to the audiobook while going for walks, you can only experience this book once and listening to the incredible David Goggins story while being active can be extremely motivating and empowering.

  • Driven: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us By Daniel H. Pink

  • This is a great book to read as a follow-up to Atomic Habits because it will strengthen your understanding of human psychology for what motivates us to act.