Atomic Habits - James Clear

Book club | 03.02.2022

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Our book shelf is always bursting at the seams with the latest reads. So, in the spirit of sharing, we decided to create a book club. At the start of January it seemed most of our team had picked up ‘Atomic Habits‘ by James Clear. Our culture specialist, Nikki, summarises her key takeaways in our latest book review.

What is Atomic Habits all about?

Life-changing is a bold way to describe a book, but James Clear’s Atomic Habits has changed the way I live and work – by focusing on the small acts and decisions that make up my average day, and looking for the tiny changes I can make that, over time, will have a meaningful impact.

This is a hands on guide to making real change through the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions. It’s the guide everyone needs to break bad habits and make good ones by getting 1% better every day.

The book is structured around Clear’s four laws of behaviour change to make / break habits. You need to make them:

  • Obvious / invisible 
  • Attractive / unattractive
  • Easy / difficult 
  • Satisfying / unsatisfying.

Who is it for? 

Everyone should read / listen to this book!

Light bulb moments 

Too many to mention them all – but here are my favourites:

1% better every day

While tiny changes may not be particularly notable, or noticeable, the difference a tiny improvement can make over time can be huge. If you can get just 1% better each day, you will end up with results that are roughly 37 times better after one year.

Systems over goals

We’re built to set goals that drive results; get a promotion, buy a house, run a marathon, learn a language. Sometimes we achieve our goals and sometimes we don’t. Whether we do or don’t has very little to do with the goals we set and a lot to do with systems we follow. Our systems are made up of tiny (atomic) habits.

“If successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers.”

James Clear

Identity first, outcomes follow

There are three layers at which changes can occur: 

  • Outcomes: what you get 
  • Process: what you do 
  • Identity: what you believe 

Most of our goals start with outcomes and focus on results. But behaviours that are at odds with who we are simply won’t last. Instead we need to start with our identity and who we want to be and translate that into what that means for our beliefs, and therefore how we behave.

Motion vs Action

Once we’ve identified changes we want to make to our systems or habits, it’s easy to step into planning mode – what’s the perfect idea, best diet, most effective programme? We can spend so much time planning that we delay action. This is called motion vs action. 

Motion can be useful and feels like progress as we’re working towards something. But motion will never produce an outcome by itself. If you want to start a new habit, focus on practice over planning.

Would you like to read Atomic Habits?

Once we’ve finished reading a book, we share the headlines and then send it to anyone who wants to read it. Once you’re done, you can either let it live forever on your shelf or share it with someone new.

As always, if you’d like to read this book, email We’ll pop it in the post to the first person who asks.

Atomic Habits - James Clear book