Why Should I Read ‘Atomic Habits’?
‘Atomic Habits’ has sold over one million copies and is an international bestseller. But if that’s not enough to sway you, read on to find out why you should read ‘Atomic Habits’.
Back in 2019, I took on a contract working for a tech company working with the Australian Stock Exchange. I didn’t have to move to Australia, but was able to work remotely from my home in London. Up until then I’d been immersed in the London work culture of work hard, play hard, spending many evenings in local pubs or bars with clients and work colleagues. This left very little time to make any improvements in my life. I was stuck in a habit of working, networking, playing, eating, sleeping and repeating. There was little room for hobbies, passions, dating, personal growth or travel. Weekends were mostly spent recovering from the week or indulging even more in the same behaviours with non work friends and family.
I constantly felt like I didn’t have time for the things I wanted to do. My time didn’t feel like it was my own. It felt as if every waking hour was already divided out and handed to others who made demands on my time. There was very little left for me.
Taking the job in 2019 changed all of that. I worked from 4pm until 2am, Sunday to Thursday. My weekends became Friday and Saturday. My days became completely free. Waking up at 9am after a solid seven hours of sleep was bliss. I felt fresh and energised and I still had another seven hours before I needed to start work. I started to see where some of my time had been eaten up. Several hours a day spent commuting even though I lived in London. Many hours spent socialising even when I didn’t want to. Days spent recovering from hangovers which left me unable and demotivated to do anything but lay on the sofa. This shift in working and in energy had me thinking about what I did want to use my time for, now that I seemed to have so much of it.
Having so much free time, I started to look at all areas of my life, because if truth be told, I wasn’t satisfied with any of them. They all had their issues. My health and fitness regimes were non existent. I had no real financial goals except making enough money to pay my bills, buy nice things and go on holiday. I didn’t enjoy my work and I didn’t get to see family and friends as much as I would’ve liked.
Having more time made me become more intentional with my time. I was picky about where I spent my time because it felt precious to me. I started to take up hobbies that I’d long ago put down, or never started. I spent time with people who mattered to me because it was no longer a case of ‘going for a quick drink’ after work. Everything took planning because I was no longer in the environment to make my old life work.
2019 gave me a glimpse into what life could be like when working in a different way and it spurred me into looking at my life and creating it in a way I enjoyed and wanted to live. I made decisions on how many days a week I wanted to work and how much I wanted to earn. I made decisions to commit to new hobbies and where and who I was spending my time with.
But then the global pandemic descended upon us in 2020. I don’t know about you, but it gave me the chance to go even deeper into my life and what I wanted it to look like. Suddenly obligations that I would normally have slipped away because of lockdown. I had time to myself that didn’t involve anyone else.
Enter ‘Atomic Habits’. Spending the first year of the pandemic in a state of depression, anxiety and loneliness had me ‘going inward’ and looking at what I wanted to change, and ways to change it. As anyone who has made changes to their life knows, it’s not always easy and can take time. ‘Atomic Habits’ helped me to see why the routines and habits I had been putting in place all these years weren’t working. Have you ever tried to implement a new routine, say a fitness routine, and several weeks or months later you are back at square one? That was me! I would change something in my life, and I would religiously do what I set out to do, and then at a certain point I would become disheartened or demotivated and give up. Then after a certain time I would try again, only to go through the same process. Reading this book showed me where I was going wrong and how I had been setting myself up to fail.
Perhaps you’re asking why you should read ‘Atomic Habits’. Clear introduces the Four Laws of Behaviour Change as a proven way to build good habits and break bad ones. He takes us through each one in turn giving examples and suggestions as he goes. This book is easy to read and the concepts easy to grasp. They are accessible to anyone who wants to start changing their own life habits. The one concept that stood out most for me, and one I’ve implemented in many areas of my life, is habit stacking.
Habit stacking is the idea of taking a new habit you are trying to establish and joining it with a habit you already do. For example, doing 3 sun salutations after meditating, where meditating is the habit already in place and the sun salutations are what you are trying to incorporate into your life. It doesn’t just have to be two habits stacked together. You could have as many as you want, although I would suggest that this is something you incrementally introduce. Trying to stack five or six habits together could cause overwhelm and have you ditching all the habits instead!
Building habits is also essential to building any desired identity that we want. My fitness and health in 2021/2022 declined, mainly due to my habits over the pandemic period. I took a hard look at myself and what I had become was not who I wanted to be in terms of health and fitness. Something had to change. I looked at my meals and snacks. I looked at my activity levels. I thought about the person I wanted to be. And then I started to introduce new habits. And because I had read ‘Atomic Habits’ I knew not to introduce every single habit all at once. I gradually introduced new habits after successfully implementing and committing to the one before. One year on and my health and fitness have both improved, but only because I put new habits into place in a strategic way.
Don’t get me wrong, I fall off the wagon sometimes! In the past this would’ve meant weeks or months going back to my old ways before picking up the habit again. Now, it is a matter or days if not hours before I pick up my new habit again. Reading ‘Atomic Habits’ changed my perspective and motivation for implementing habits that have changed my life for the better.
I have barely scratched the surface of the information, advice and suggestions that are in ‘Atomic Habits’. It is a book that I recommend to anyone who will listen because it made that much of an impact on me and how I live my life. If you wish to read this book, you can purchase it at the link below.
If you would like any help in setting up habits, or finding ways to set yourself up for success in your life, please feel free to reach out to me or book a discovery call.