This week’s article isn’t really a book review, but it is. Man, that makes no sense whatsoever. Regardless, I wanted to share some thoughts on a book I would strongly recommend you borrow from your local library. Your reaction may be like mine after I was a few pages in – I then ordered my own copy so I could highlight it. The book is Atomic Habits by James Clear.
As some background, over the last year or so I kept hearing from people and seeing articles stating I needed to read this book. It never caught my interest, but in the late winter I was looking for something and decided to give this a shot. I won’t engage in hyperbole by saying this is a life-changing book, however, it is one of the better business-related books I’ve read. I hate to describe it as self-help as that makes me think of books that say I should take ice cold showers and drink coffee with lots of butter. Let me share some of the reasons I think this book is solid.
The author talks about how instead of focusing on goals we should focus on systems instead. This seems so radical as we’ve talked about goal setting all our lives. His points as to why include:
- Both winners and losers have the same goals. The goal itself cannot be what differentiates winners from losers.
- Goal achievement is a momentary change. If you don’t change the systems behind what leads you to accomplishing a goal, then you will be back to square one. His example is if your goal is to clean your room that is simple. But, if you don’t change the systems as to why it became dirty in the first place you clean room will once again turn dirty.
- Goals can restrict your happiness. This has been one I’ve struggled with forever. Accomplishing a goal gives me short-term satisfaction and then I have to reset the goal. Or, if I fail to reach a goal I am disappointed.
- Goals can be at odds with long-term progress. Similar to the previous point, the reason we set goals are to win the game. However, by improving our systems we can continue to play the game.
He gives a set of “laws” to help you achieve developing, implementing and adhering to your new habits. It will take forever if I go into each law in detail, but they are:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
This book obviously isn’t for everyone. I know some guys who treat it almost as an obsession. However, I do think this is worthy of at least a checkout from the library. It’s not a difficult read and there are lots of little nuggets in there worthy of your time, such as learning what the Diderot Effect is. Who knows – maybe it will change your way of thinking and you will develop better habits.