This week’s book of the week is Atomic Habits by James Clear. At first I had put off reading this book, because I thought that it might be very similar to The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg. I’m happy to tell you that it is very different. Think of it like this. If they were both college courses, The Power of Habits would be required first. The Power of Habits is more like a mechanical outline of how habits work. Atomic Habits is more of a different way of understanding why they work and how to view them. With that being said, you don’t have to read The Power of Habits to understand Atomic Habits, it just might be helpful. You can check out our previous articles on The Power of Habits here.
Seeing the results of habit change takes time. That’s why so many quit early and don’t stick with good habits. Like trying to quit smoking, a new diet, saving money, or other habits that we all know that we should change. James Clear compares changing habits to compound interest.
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”¹
Think of it like NASA when they’re reentering the earth’s atmosphere. You’ve probably seen those intense moments in a movie. Just as they’re coming back into orbit the earth’s atmosphere, the astronaut pilot has to adjust the angle of the plane at just the right degree of entry so that the plane doesn’t catch fire. While I may not understand the exact science behind it, the main idea is that their entry has to be exact. Any slight change they get burned.
“Similarly, a slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination. Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”²
— Vigilant Poster Girl ✊🏻 ❤️ (@girl_vigilant) May 3, 2019
Knowing that you want to get to your destination isn’t enough. As Atomic Habits states, “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”³ Your current results tells the story of what you’ve done in the past. Your trajectory tells you where you are headed. These tiny daily decisions put you on the roadmap to reach your goal, and therefore need way more of your attention. Transformation happens slowly, with incremental improvements of better habits.
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Vigilant Poster Girl
Every week I talk about a book that we’re reading on leadership and self-development. You can follow along by going to the Book of the Week page at the top. And order a book (either kindle, audible, or paperback) by clicking on the photo of that book. When you do that, it also helps fund this site.
- Clear, James. Atomic Habits (p. 16). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Clear, James. Atomic Habits (pp. 17-18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Clear, James. Atomic Habits (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.