Adrian Stobbe

Atomic Habits - James Clear

4 minutes (1049 words)
Table of contents

🔗 Link : Goodreads

⭐️ Rating: 8/10

🔗🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Small habits are powerful: a good mattress, massage chairs… led English cycling team to be the best
  2. Be patient about the results and believe in the power of sticking to habits
  3. Set systems not goals. Focus on: how do I reach it?

🔗🎨 Impressions

Developing good habits is hard. I’ve been trying to build a writing routine for some time, but I never got it to stick. Tracking my actions and progress was helpful, but something was still missing. I loved this book, because it made me feel empowered to make my habits persist. And it already helped in establishing a more healthy diet (mostly resisting junk..). Don’t be fooled that this book will make it easy to change habits, but there are lots of gems to make it work. Let’s see if digesting them again, can also help me with my writing challenge.

🔗Who Should Read It?

Who does not want to improve his or her habits and find practical tips on how to make it happen?

🔗👷🏼 What do I want to apply to my life?

🔗📒 Summary + Notes

🔗Habits form identity

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. On the other hand, tiny mistakes also compound into toxic results.

Only habits that are part of your identity stick: I’m proud of being balanced, so I meditate. I’m a maker, so I do hobby projects.

Habits form your identity: If you practice dancing regularly, you become to believe that you are dancer. If you code daily, you start to identify as a programmer.

When you fail to stick to a habit, it might be that the habit unconsciously contradicts your self-image (“I’m not a morning person.. I’m bad at..”)

🔗Take action and don’t overthink

Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.

The best is the enemy of the good. Don’t over-engineer trying to find the optimal plan. It most likely stops you from taking action.

Ask: What kind of person do you need to be to achieve what you want? Make habits out of them.

Be specific on when and how you do the habit: I do push-ups when I close my laptop before lunch. I put my kindle on my pillow before I start preparing dinner.

See objects as context for your habit: The table is where I eat and relax. The desk is where I work. The smartphone is for leisure. The bed is where I sleep.

Use habit stacking. Implement a new habit into an existing sequence that works already.

🔗System > Goals

Don’t fix goals to a single achievement, instead make them about becoming a certain type of person: The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.

Set systems not goals. Focus on: How do I reach it? Don’t overthink the goal setting.

It’s not about any single accomplishment. It’s about continuous improvement. A good system ensures persistence.

Pick habits and rules that are aligned with your strengths. Do what’s easy.

Ingredients for Habit formation:

  1. Cue (Make it Obvious vs Invisible): put cues to remind you of doing it.

    Create an environment with positive cues: Put healthy food at the front. Put book on my pillow. Put yoga mattress on the floor.

  2. Craving (Make it Attractive vs Unattractive): anything unattractive costs willpower which is limited.

  3. Routine (Make it Easy vs Difficult): Make a new habit take up less than 2 minutes. Make it a ritual and not look like a chore. Stop before it feels like work. Increase friction for negative habits. Habit formation is about frequency, not time.

    Create a routine while doing something positive and enjoyable. After a while the routine becomes associated with this mood, so you can induce it by doing the routine. E.g.: Put on headphones (=focus time) to study

  4. Reward (Make it Satisfying vs Unsatisfying): behaviors that are immediately rewarded get repeated, those that are punished don’t. The reward comes from the anticipation of the action, not the action itself. → Use, existing pleasant habits and add to them a new wanted habit.

    Habits need immediate reward to be sustainable: Save money for vacation if you stick to exercise..

    Reward yourself for resisting. Resisting is hard because there is no pleasure which motivates repetition. At most you might enjoy the feeling of self-control.

🔗Performance comes from persistence

Persist even on rough days. Avoiding losses is more important than growth. If you start with $100, then a 50 percent gain will take you to $150. But you only need a 33 percent loss to take you back to $100.

Not missing a day of practice is not only about progress, but about your identity. The strength to stick to it even on rough days affirms your identity.

The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows.

Days without motivation are normal. Professionals also have them, but they know what’s important to them and stick to the routine.


Good habits have a delayed reward (learning, writing a book…). They are for your future self. The immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the ultimate outcome feels good. Bad habits give short-term pleasure with hazardous long-term consequences. Our brains naturally seek immediate pleasure.. Add immediate pleasure to positive habits and pain to toxic ones.

Realize your subconscious actions. Point and call them out: I eat chocolate, because I’m procrastinating. It’s nor healthy and will make me feel sleepy. I take my phone to distract myself from studying.

We are formed by our environment and society. Surround yourself with people that have the behavior you desire to acquire. Our desires are shaped by how we are educated (Chess family)..

Define a general identity with traits that don’t depend on one action or profession.