This week on the podcast, we are delving back into the world of self help with a book that is truly outstanding. Atomic Habits by James Clear is a must read – you absolutely need to put this at the top of your to be read pile! But apart from introducing to this great book, I am also so delighted to be introducing you to a very dear friend and Habit Expert – Matt Cowdroy who helps me workshop this book during the episode.
Matt is the founder of Think Productive Australia, his official title is … “Productivity Ninja”. Having spent 20 years in the corporate world, he has first-hand experience in understanding the pressure being faced in today’s business environment. He launched Think Productive Australia in 2014 and has helped 1000’s of people reduce their stress through Productivity and Mindfulness. He also talks about habits – in fact he regularly delivers guest lectures at the gorgeous Elysia Health Retreat in the Hunter Valley in NSW – so he’s the perfect person for today.
Why Did I Choose This Book?
Atomic Habits has had phenomenal success. It has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide and has spent one year on the New York Times Bestseller List. It has also been translated into more than 50 languages.
This is one of the books that I see recommended by people who are considered top of their field.
I wanted an excuse to catch up with Matt!! Isn’t that what a book club is all about!!
What Is It About?
In summary, this book is about transforming your life with tiny changes in behaviour. James Clear believes that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing 2 push ups a day, waking up 5 minute earlier, drinking a cup of water every time you drink a coffee. He calls these atomic habits because he believes minuscule changes can turn into life altering outcomes.
It was after a horrific head injury that James created his philosophy of atomic habits after a horrific injury. While at high school, a classmate accidentally swung a baseball bat into his face, and it took him nearly a year to recover. James’ dreams of playing baseball ever again appeared to be over. However, he was able to turn things around by implementing small, daily habits to help him move towards his goals. These small routines ultimately led him to create a model for success based on cultivating a series of atomic habits.
Six years after the injury, Clear was selected as the top athlete at Denison University and accepted onto the ESPN Academic All-America Team. The recipe for his success? Start small and collect a series of small wins and tiny breakthroughs. Clear is convinced that the quality of your habits dictate the quality of your life. Small habits helped him fulfill his potential, and by following his advice, he believes they can help you, too.
There are so many incredible nuggets of gold from this book. Here is what Matt and I considered to be the most outstanding:
– Small habits make a big difference. Improving by 1% can be far more meaningful in the long term. Just a 1% increase every day yields a 37x improvement by the end of the year.
– Forget about goals – focus on systems instead. Ultimately its commitment to the process that will determine progress. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.
– Change Your Identity to Change Your Habits. Essentially a shift from “I want to” to “I am” makes all the difference in the world. He’s all about changing the internal story to make a lasting change. The root of behaviour change and building better habits is your identity. Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.
– Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. If you finish a book, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes reading. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes exercise. If you practice playing the guitar, perhaps you are the type of person who likes music. Each habit is like a suggestion: “Hey, maybe this is who I am.”
– Habit Stacking – add a new habit to an existing one.
– Motivation is overrated – your environment often matters more. Many of the actions we take each day are shaped not be purposeful drive and choice but by the most obvious option.
– People with high self-control tend to spend less time in tempting situations. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.
– Family and friends are a powerful force in shaping habits. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. You’ll rise together!
– Scale down any new habit into a 2 minute version. Master the art of showing up first!
– Two-minute rule- scale down any new habit into a 2 min version. Gateway habit. You need to master the art of showing up.
– The Goldilocks Rule – the best way to stick to a habit it ensure that it provides just a little challenge to you. Perhaps a task that sits right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
Both Matt & I loved Atomic Habits and this it is a powerful tool for change. I have already started implementing some of James’ suggestions and am now drinking a glass of water every time I make a cup of tea!
If you’d like to chat further with Matt about productivity or habits, you can email him here firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the podcast for our full download about this amazing book. You can listen via your favourite podcast app or by clicking on the link below.