Book Cover: James Clear's Atomic Habits2021 should have been the year of big things. And then, life. If you’re one of my peeps, you know the massive suck that occurred after the death of a family member: all the estate work, inheriting three seniors (two with dementia), guardianship, conservatorship, … I’m going to stop there. Have you had a year like that? Whether unexpected disruption takes your year or your day, we have ways to “right our ship” and get back on course.

As a coach, I know that no single change process resonates with everyone’s life or work style. I like to preview and test a mix of authors’ works to see which best match a client’s needs. Each month in Q1/2021, I’d read one of three books with different takes on habit formation and change. The first was B. J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits (read about that here). I read James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way To Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones next, followed by Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before (watch for this one in an upcoming post).

James Clear has long done a wonderful job offering clear (no pun intended) explanations of developmental and innovative ideas to busy professionals. Atomic Habits is no exception. Clear gives readers a mental model of a Problem Phase (cue, craving) and Solution Phase (response, reward) to describe behavior leading to positive or negative habits in our life. He builds out an easy-to-follow methodology to create incremental, but powerful shifts toward desired results.

Atomic (think very small, like an atom) Habits builds on multiple works and studies (such as Tiny Habits, by B. J. Fogg). He adds additional integrative thinking and how-to’s to help a reader implement the mindset and actions to create change. Understanding the psychology of the choices, gives us power to interrupt the automatic and make a better decision. Consistent application of small positive actions—creating good habits or eliminating bad ones—generates constructive life change. Combining new small habits, Clear says, is not additive; it’s more like a force multiplier and compounds the impact.

One element I really appreciate in Clear’s book is his connecting the ideas presented. He offers solid chapter summaries with illustrations that build on each concept to reinforce the reader’s learning. Atomic Habits is a great book to either “chunk” (read a section, apply, repeat) or quickly scan, then go back and read with more intent.

2022 IS the year of big things. As Q1 draws to a close, I’ve published my book Driving Pink: Power & Peace When Navigating A Breast Cancer Journey (learn more here, follow updates and author events on Driving Pink’s Facebook and Twitter accounts). I’ve finished taxes (yeah!), am both teaching and taking a class, partnering with my pup Chani as she works towards her Canine Good Citizen certification, supporting a couple leaders on their journey, and–yes–still providing caregiving to my wards.

While I sometimes share reviews on books I’ve been given to evaluate, Clear’s Atomic Habits is part of a group of texts I purchased to intentionally read back-to-back for comparison. While 2021 epitomized “embracing the suck,” I still accomplished goals and set myself up for a positive start in 2022. If you need to create and build on incremental progress, add Atomic Habits to your reading list. And if you need help or accountability for a big win or important pivot in life or work, reach out.


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