• Rob Olson

Book Review: Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits, written by James Clear.

"Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results"

Cliff Notes:

This is an easy read. A book written by a normal guy who has simply devoted his life to telling others about how to build good habits and break bad ones. If you want to better yourself in some way, shape, or fashion, this is a must read.

My immediate takeaway from this book:

I deleted the Facebook and Instagram icons from my phone. His 3rd Law of Habits is to "make it easy" (for building a new habit). The inverse, make it hard, to break a bad habit. The simple act of deleting the little icons on my phone for Facebook and Instagram made it harder to check. I can still check it if I desire, but it now takes 3 steps instead of 1. This has resulted in a 2 hour reduction in social media use per week!

Having goals:

The author - As I mentioned briefly above, James Clear is a normal guy. He does not have a PhD in science, or psychology, or any other program you would think would study habits or let alone write a book on. James started a blog one day. He wrote EVERY DAY for years about habits. Through this habit, writing and posting every day, he interviewed scientists, and psychologists, and all the masters on the topic. He writes in every day casual language, and he even writes about examples of working out and healthy eating because these are things he enjoys. The examples he gives are all real world, easy to understand and relate to.

"Forget about goals, focus on systems instead"

Winners and losers have the same goals. So what makes the difference?

Let that sink in. Winners and losers have the same goals. So what makes the difference?

According to James, its the systems that are employed, the habits, that either compound and assist in achieving the goal, or conversely, they slowly degrade, erode, and destroy the possibility of success.

Keep in mind, goals are still necessary. You need that target to shoot for. What he is suggesting is a mindset shift, to focusing on the "how and why" instead of the "it".

Take for instance, running a marathon. Great goal. But what habits will you employ to get you there?

Your identity:

What I really liked was the chapter on identity. Here is a short example from the book:

"Imagine two people resisting a cigarette. When offered a smoke, the first person says "No thanks. I'm trying to quit." It sounds like a reasonable response, but this person still believes they are a smoker who is trying to be something else. They are hoping their behavior will change while carrying around the same beliefs. The second person declines by saying "No thanks. I'm not a smoker." Its a small difference, but this statement signals a shift in identity. Smoking was part of their former life, not their current one. They no longer identify as someone who smokes."

According to James, the best way to make new habits, and break bad ones, is to focus on identity.

"You may want better health, but if you continue to prioritize comfort over accomplishment, you'll be drawn to relaxing rather than training"

Lets bring it back to the marathon goal I mentioned above. Great goal, but the REAL goal should be to "become a runner". This is identity change. If you become a runner, you will find yourself creating time to run, improving your nutrition, and prioritizing sleep. Your identity creates your habits. Habits bring you to your goals.

This same topic - identity based goals - can work against you as well. We hear it all the time, especially at No Sweat Intros (before people get into the positive atmosphere at CFS).

"I don't workout, I could never do CrossFit"

"I'm not a runner, I could never do a 5k"

"I'm not a morning person, I could never do the 5am class"

"I'm pretty good with nutrition, but could never get back to my __________ bodyweight."

These statements, repeated thousands of times to yourself, become your identity. A person that says "I'm not a runner" is going to have a hard time with a goal of running a marathon (or 5k). But if they adopt a change to their identity … "I'm a runner" … then its much more likely they will adopt habits that support their running routine.

James gives another example of a friend who lost 100lbs simply by saying "What would a healthy person do?" when making decisions. Would a healthy person take a cab, or walk? Would a healthy person order a burrito or a salad? Asking this question created a mindset shift in their identity, and over time, they became "a healthy person" who did healthy habits naturally.

"Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become."

You will not become a runner from going out and running one time, but that action repeated dozens, hundreds of times, forms a new identity. What actions are you repeating? Are they helping you become the person you want to become?

Without spoiling the entire book, he goes over 4 Laws of Behavior Change:

Make is obvious

Make it attractive

Make it easy

Make it satisfying

Through these 4 Laws he breaks it down step by step how to create new habits and how to break bad habits.

The most important point - never stop making improvements. You need to constantly be evaluating where you are, where you want to be, and how your systems/habits are helping or hurting.

To bring this back to CrossFit Simsbury, remember every CFS Athlete has the option to do a free goal setting session every quarter with a Coach. Not only will we talk about your goals, but we'll discuss your habits to help get you there.

1% better every day! Crush everything!

To book a goal setting session, go to the link below


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