Each of these books gets a 4 out of 5-star rating from me.
Atomic Habits, as confessed by the author James Clear, is an extension of the principles expounded by the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It was a lucky coincidence for me to have recently read the Power of Habit before I picked up Atomic Habits. Although it is not necessary to read the Power Of Habit first, it is my experience that reading these two books, and in that order, works well. Although each book is well rounded and can stand on its own, the former clarifies the concepts and the latter helps you implement them.
Where the Power of Habit expounds deeply on the theory of the four steps on habit formation, Atomic Habits rounds it out with several practical ways to apply those steps in your everyday life.
To me, the most impactful part of Atomic Habits is that James Clear speaks to the ‘why’ in a way that really resonated with me. Why do we want to build good habits and get rid of the bad ones? For the material benefits that follow? A cleaner home, better financial health, weight loss, etc.? Of course all these will follow the creation of good habits and the avoidance of bad habits. But the most important benefit is, as a result of this process, you will change. You will become a different person from the one you were before you launched this intervention in your life. And that is the most priceless and positive outcome of this process.
I would take James’ rationale one step further and say that once you have made that first change in your habits and in who you are, then you will also acquire a newfound confidence in your ability to change yourself and therefore your world. You do not have to accept and surrender to who you are and what your world looks like at this time, but rather you have the ability to influence it all. To me, this is very empowering.
Further, this game is not won by making herculean efforts of groundbreaking impact. Rather it is won by making small, even minuscule changes in what you do and how you do it. The only condition is you do it consistently. That is where the true power lies and that is how it becomes available to every one of us.
Another important take away from this book was that loving the process is more important than the results it brings. James recommends that this is an important perspective and once acquired, you will always feel like a winner whenever you successfully follow the process. Results will most likely follow but, even if the results are not what you wanted, you will still feel like a winner because you know you did what was in your power and you did it well.
Let me restate this with an example. Goal setting often involves a focus on results, versus the process that is needed to get to the results. For example, if the goal is to lose 10 lbs, the process is to eat well, exercise, and stay active. Now if my goal is to lose 10lbs, I can be a winner only on that one day that I accomplish that objective. But if my goal is to make the process a habit, each day that I eat well, exercise, I am a winner. The outcome of weight loss is then a by-product of this habit, and of following the process every day. This is deeply empowering and impactful.
For this and other reasons stated above, I recommend Atomic Habits to anyone seeking to evaluate herself and wanting to play a part in who she becomes tomorrow. And if you want a solid conceptual framework, start with The Power of Habit. You will walk away with a repertoire of tools to begin to design your habits. And as a result, you will change yourself, and by extension your world.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ” —Aristotle