I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and hands down this is one of the best self-improvement books I have read for quite a while – and I read a lot!!
There are a lot of really good books written about habits and especially the technical aspects and with terrific examples of how the right habits can change your life.
With Atomic Habits, James Clear wanted to write a book that would give people a full toolbox of tools to use.
This book is full of a vast range of tips, tools and tactics because what works for one person may or may not work for another person. And what works for you today and in this particular situation may or may not work for you tomorrow and / or in a different situation.
The underpinning principles are founded in three big ideas.
The first big idea:
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
Compound interest is that magical thing that happens to money when the interest is paid on top of the interest already paid. The longer the money is invested the more exponential the pay off.
In Atomic Habits James Clear says that habits compound over time in the same way that money compounds over time.
The greatest benefit is delayed – the same as for money.
Money saved today and saved over time plus the interest that is paid on the interest it compounds on itself and there is exponentially more in 5 years, 10 years and beyond.
The same is true of habits. And in both directions. Both good habits and the not so good habits.
For example, if you have pizza for lunch vs a healthy salad option when you look in the mirror that night, you don’t see a different you. You look the same. The scales are the same
The thing is, if you eat the pizza option on a regular basis for 2 years or 5 years – then your pants don’t fit and you realise “these things do add up.”
Over time if you go for the healthy options that pays off in a positive way.
The second big idea:
The common narrative when it comes to achieving what you want tends to focus on grit and determination and “really wanting it.” If you don’t achieve what you’re aiming for “you didn’t want it badly enough”
James Clear says for people who are struggling to achieve what they want – it’s not that they don’t “want it” enough. Their issue is usually that they don’t have a system.
He says “you need a system.”
And he offers multiple ways to implement a system.
When people talk about change and improvement, the focus is on The Goal.
He says the goal is not the thing that makes the difference. “When we think about any sport, the winners and the losers have the same goal – they both want to win.” They both absolutely want to achieve their goal.
What’s the difference? Between the winners and the losers?
The ones who reach their goal have a system.
The goal is the desired outcome.
The system is the daily habits.
He says that whatever results you are achieving right now is the result of the daily set of current habits. Our current state is the result of the “system” that we follow. The habits we have are perfectly aligned to the results we achieve.
This might seem a bit harsh and it’s not meant to be. It’s fact. My current results are due to my habits over time.
Not just the habit I started today, my results are due to my habits over time.
When it comes to what we see in others, we usually don’t see the system. What we do see is the result.
The Olympic athlete wins a Gold medal. We don’t see years and years of training and showing up again and again.
A business becomes successful. We don’t see the years and years with hours and hours of the rigor and the systems and processes and to bring about that success.
The third big idea:
Your habits are how you embody a particular identity.
True behaviour change is identity change.
The real goal is to become a … whatever that identity is.
Your identity is this powerful thing you carry around with you every day.
Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to become.
We tend to think in terms of the goal “to run a marathon”
The identity we want to embody is “I’m a runner”
The goal is to “stop smoking”
The identity we want to embody is “I’m the sort of person who doesn’t smoke”
The goal “Sell a lot of books”
The identity we want to embody is “I’m an author”
For me: I used to eat desert and cakes and that wasn’t good for my health nor my weight. I started saying to myself “I’m a person who takes care of my health and wellbeing – with what I eat my exercise, sleep etc ” and over time this has made a big differences it influences the choices I make every day.
James Clear offers that small improvements that build on themselves compound over time to bring us to be the new identity we want to become.
So what does he suggest we do?
As mentioned there is a whole toolbox of ideas and suggestions.
Here are 4 ideas from the book that I particularly like are:
Find the smallest way to get started.
He offers the 2 minute rule. For most people creating or building new habits requires a plan. The 2 minute rule is a terrific place to start.
Whatever the goal is, break it down into what can you do in 2 minutes.
The 2 minute rule helps you master the act of showing up. Find the smallest way to get started.
If the goal is to “Read a book every week or month” becomes “read 1 page every day.”
If the goal is to “Go to ” becomes “read 1 page every day.”
A habit must be established before it can be improved.
The Goldilocks Rule
The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
I especially like this one and use it often with clients and it is included in many of my podcasts, webinars and FB Lives etc. It is the idea that you attach your new habit to an existing habit. Identify a habit you do every day and stack your new behaviour on top. This works because the current habit is already built in.
The formula is
When I do the Current Habit I will also do the New Habit
Here are some examples:
When I set the kettle to boil water for my tea, I will practice balancing on one leg for 1 minute – for both legs.
Before I take my first sip of my first coffee, I will set an intention for the day ahead.
When I clean my teeth in the morning, I will look in the mirror and say “I am the sort of person who is becoming a numbers person”
When I get into bed at night I will remind myself of one thing I am grateful for.
Once you have 1 new habit, you can then stack the next habit into the stack.
Change your environment.
I have always believed in this one. I love corn chips. If there was a packet in the cupboard, I would eat them. All of them. I don’t have corn chips in the house.
There is so much research about people smoking because they hang out with smokers. People over eat or eat take away because they hang out with others who overeat or eat take away. People drink a lot because they hang out with people who drink a lot.
The reverse is also true. Successful business people hang out with other successful business people – whether in person, or online.
Having a clear desk makes it easier to stay focussed on the work at hand.
Turning the phone off at a certain time each night means we don’t look at blue screen after a certain time.
Our environment dictates our habits and therefore our results.
There are so many more areas that are covered in Atomic Habits.
He talks about the importance of measuring progress – and the measure being related to some thing you can see on a day to day basis.
He talks about the difference between being in motion and taking action. For example: I want to go to yoga every day. Searching for yoga studio online is motion. Getting my yoga mat out and doing a yoga pose is action. The action will get me to my goal. This example is also an example of the 2 minute rule – the smallest action I could take (actually taking the yoga mat out of the cupboard and rolling it out on the floor is an even smaller action)
I highly commend this book to you if you are looking to make changes and achieve whatever you dream of achieving.
One of my favourite things he says: “Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to be.”
To find out more about Atomic Habits by James Clear: click here
My guess is you are here because …..
My guess is that you are here because you are a business owner and what you really want – is have a successful business – whatever that means to you.
Maybe that means feeling confident when it comes to talking about the money side of business.
Having a successful business might mean making business decisions with reliable information – facts & data as well as your “gut feel.”
… ultimately you want to do what you do best AND have a successful business AND make a difference.
I’m here to help you.
Everything I do in my business, every decision I make is based on this question:
Will this make a difference? Will this help you, my listener – will this help you to build your business? will this help you to create your successful, viable and robust business so you can achieve Financial Independence?
This is why I do what I do
There are 2 ways you can access all my best material:
I regularly run webinars on a range of money related topics:
- Managing Cash Flow so you never run out of money
- Understanding where your money goes – getting those expenses sorted out
- Understanding the Profit First book
- Pricing – getting it right for your studio
- The things you need to know before signing a commercial lease
- How to make more money
- … and many other topics
If you’d like the replay of any of these recent webinars, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Replay” in the subject and let me know which one you’d like to watch. I’ll send you the link to the replay
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“So You Want to Start a Business”
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