This book (Atomic Habits) has consumed so much of what I’ve been thinking lately:

Because boy howdy, it is good.

I think it’s one I should read at least semi-annually to get me all pumped up about life.

I could go on and on about so many notes I took…I love that James Clear includes not only so many well-organized and thought provoking ideas, but also chapter summaries and charts and so many illustrations to bring his points home.

But for now I want to just share two of the things (among many) that hit home to me.

1) I love the thought that he shares: if you want to be something, don’t make excuses, and don’t let yourself be painted into a corner of what you (or others) expect you to be. Instead, become that person, or quality, or trait. He gives an example of two smokers trying to quit. When offered a cigarette, one says, “no thanks, I’m trying to quit,” and the other says, “no thanks, I’m not a smoker.” Which do you think will be able to quit more efficiently? You guessed it, the one who already believes that he really is no longer a smoker. Now, that story of course, is a little bit simplistic, but I love the main idea. For example, I don’t have to keep believing that narrative that I am generally a few minutes late to everything. Or that I’m not the most organized person. I realized I need to change little narratives like that in my mind and they will come to be (one thing I really love about “dream books” that I have realized as I’ve kept them over the years). You are what you believe you are, if you want that version of yourself bad enough.

2) (This is in conjunction with what I talked about yesterday and the quote I included from Martin Luther King, Jr.):

I believe we do have certain things we can each uniquely bring to the table in life.

I loved the story in the book where the author talks about Michael Phelps (the famous swimmer) and Hicham El Guerrouj, who is a Moroccan runner who also holds a slew of gold medals and records for middle-distance running. Both excellent athletes who have found the sport in which they were “made” to compete. Their body-types are uniquely matched to what they do well. You see, El Guerrouj is five feet, nine inches tall while Michael Phelps is six feet four inches tall. Yet they both wear the same length inseam. (Phelps’s legs are relatively short for his height, and El Guerrouj has incredibly long legs, perfect for their own individual sports.

Now, much more than height and inseam length go into being good at a sport, of course, just like all kinds of factors lead us each, individually, to be interested in, and strive for various things in our own lives. But I love the thought that each of us, like these two athletes, have our own strengths that we were “made” to use to let our own lights shine. “The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. This is just as true with habit change as it is with sports and business. Habits are easier to perform, and more satisfying to stick with, when they align with your natural inclinations and abilities.” Of course this doesn’t mean we have to stick to certain things and other things are off limits to us. I just think it helps in thinking about which habits I want to work on.

Other quotes I loved:

Every action we take is a vote for the person we want to become.

The point is not to do ‘one thing,’ the point is to ‘show up'” Successful people get bored with doing the same things over and over again just like everyone else. But they keep showing up. In some ways, we should “fall in love with boredom.”

“Most people don’t lack motivation, they lack clarity.”

Anyway, so much more to think about in this book, but those are my few little nuggets for today. I wanted to read this book before I sat down to make my own goals and think of the habits in my own life that I want to tweak to reach further into that person I want to be, and I’m so grateful I did!

Happy Wednesday!

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  1. I totally concur with your take on Atomic Habits. I read the book in 2019 and wound up buying copies for my husband and kids. There’s just so many great nuggets in there. And I think you’re right–it’s definitely worth reading again.

  2. Since you suggested that it was a great book, I have been digesting that thing, one day at a time. I started by listening in the car when I was driving. As usual when I start a new book, I set the speed at 1.5 (his voice, not the car) and realized right away that he already speaks fast and whoa! I needed him was for him to slow down! So many fascinating ways to look at habits. When I got him slowed down, I listened while I walk/jogged along and the ideas were still coming too fast. I needed to stop and write it down. Not only his ideas but mine! Thanks so much for the heads-up on this. I can’t wait to discuss it on our zoom call next week. It’s such a nice shot of adrenaline for changing some important things as we start this new historic year!

  3. Thanks Shawni for recommending this book, I bought it a couple weeks ago when you first mentioned it in another post, it is a life changer!!! I am going to read it again and underline all the great ideas, I agree this is one of those books that should be read over and over again, what a good way to start out 2021 after the trainwreck of 2020.

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