If you are looking to create healthy habits but struggling, or if you read Atomic Habits already and want to recap the best information in it, read this epic guide to James Clear’s Atomic Habits: quotes, FAQs, a full summary, a quick review, and even more recommendations for further learning.
For that reason, it’s one of the best books for sticking with your New Year’s resolutions and one of the best books to start your reading habit as well.
Atomic Habits Quotes
“This is the meaning of the phrase atomic habits—a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
“The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.”
“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
“When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.”
“The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.”
“Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.”
“Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change. This pattern shows up everywhere.”
“Whenever you want to change your behavior, you can simply ask yourself: How can I make it obvious? How can I make it attractive? How can I make it easy? How can I make it satisfying?”
“This is why remaining part of a group after achieving a goal is crucial to maintaining your habits. It’s friendship and community that embed a new identity and help behaviors last over the long run.”
“Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks.”
“In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.”
“We rarely think about change this way because everyone is consumed by the end goal. But one push-up is better than not exercising. One minute of guitar practice is better than none at all. One minute of reading is better than never picking up a book. It’s better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.”
“With our bad habits, the immediate outcome usually feels good, but the ultimate outcome feels bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: the immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the ultimate outcome feels good.”
“As a general rule, the more immediate pleasure you get from an action, the more strongly you should question whether it aligns with your long-term goals.”
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
“You get what you repeat.”
“A lack of self-awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.”
“One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.”
“Your culture sets your expectation for what is “normal.” Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself.”
“Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction.”
“A very small shift in direction can lead to a very meaningful change in destination.”
“With a big enough why you can overcome any how.- If your motivation and desire are great enough (that is, why you are acting), you’ll take action even when it is quite difficult. Greta craving can be power great action- even when friction is high.”
“When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something. You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing.”
“Research has shown that people who track their progress on goals like losing weight, quitting smoking, and lowering blood pressure are all more likely to improve than those who don’t.”
“Redesign your life so the actions that matter most are also the actions that are easiest to do.”
“Here’s the powerful part: there are many different ways to address the same underlying motive. One person might learn to reduce stress by smoking a cigarette. Another person learns to ease their anxiety by going for a run. Your current habits are not necessarily the best way to solve the problems you face; they are just the methods you learned to use. Once you associate a solution with the problem you need to solve, you keep coming back to it.”
If you enjoyed these Atomic Habits quotes, read on for FAQs, a summary, review, and pairings for more goodies to crush your new habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Atomic Habits are “a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.” In summary, it’s about making the practice of good habits small and easy, with the positive results compounding over time.
Atomic Habits strives to make it as easy as possible to create positive, desirable habits that last an entire lifetime.
The underlying principle of Atomic Habits is that there is a massive compounding effect with repeated 1% improvements. There are four laws of behavior (cue, craving, response, and reward), and you can make it obvious, easy, attractive, and satisfying to take incremental action towards positive behavior. You can also do the opposite to the opposite to break bad behavior.
Atomic Habits are formed by making it obvious, easy, attractive, and satisfying to take incremental action towards positive behavior, and by doing the opposite to the opposite to break bad behavior.
Atomic Habits is definitely worth reading if you want to create a good habit and break a bad habit, and if you are willing to take actions steps to create a positive new habit. Luckily, the book teaches you how to make this as easy as possible.
Atomic Habits should be read by those who want to make a positive change in their life for the long term, and are willing to do the work in small, incremental steps that compound over time by making it attractive and easy to perform a good habit and unattractive and hard to perform a bad habit.
Atomic Habits Summary
The underlying principle of Atomic Habits is that there is a massive compounding effect with repeated 1% improvements.
Habits do not make life boring; rather, they create freedom. For example, without good financial habits, you will always be struggling with money.
Often, we try to change the wrong thing when trying to create a positive new habit. You can change your outcomes (what you get) or your processes (what you do), but real change comes in changing your identity (what you believe).
It’s the difference between saying, “I’m trying to quit smoking” and “I’m not a smoker.” The more your habits are associated with your identity, the more you will maintain them. Your habits shape your identity and your identity shapes your habits.
Also, keep in mind that you also then need to continue to upgrade and expand your identity over time as you change and grow.
There are four laws of behavior:
The thoughts, emotions, and feelings around a cue are what create a craving. The response you take to that cue and craving can be a thought or action. It’s all about obtaining a reward for satisfaction. This is the habit loop.
For example, it’s like craving coffee in the morning to feel more awake.
How to use the four laws to make a good habit:
Cue: make it obvious. Cues can become invisible when you continually repeat them. Be aware and say it out loud or use a habit tracker.
State your “implementation intention” — specifically when and where you will perform a new habit. For example, I will [ACTION] at [TIME] IN [PLACE].
You can also use habit stacking: identify a current habit, then stack your new habit with it. For example, After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. Make it extremely specific and clear.
Place things related to your new habit in open proximity to you. Every habit should have a home/environment.
Craving: make it attractive.
Use temptation leveling. Link an action you WANT to do with an action you NEED to do. For example, you can work out while watching Netflix.
You can also use habit stacking plus temptation leveling as well. For example, After [current habit], I will [habit I need]. After [habit I need], I will [habit I want.]
Have a mindset of “I get to,” not “I have to.”
We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us, so surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have. Friendship and community help embed the identity you desire.
You can also do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit. You will begin to make positive associations.
Response: make it easy.
Repeat the habit as much as possible.
Reduce friction. Choosing the environment is a big part of this.
Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits. You will achieve more when less effort is required. Make it the path of least resistance.
Use the Two-Minute Rule: Break down your habits into steps that take two minutes or less. Make them as easy as possible to start. Then, once you start, you will lead down a more productive path. For example, put your workout clothes on. Then, walk around the block. And so forth.
Automate your habits with investments that make your habits easier over the long run. For example, you can remove notifications from your phone or use smaller plates to eat. This may require you to make a purchase.
Reward: make it satisfying.
Use reinforcement by giving yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit. This can be something like a walk or a bubble bath. You can also label your savings account as what you are trying to attain.
Use a habit tracker to feel that small ounce of visual, immediate satisfaction that will increase the odds you will repeat it.
Focus on not breaking the chain and getting back on track if you do.
But, make sure it’s aligned with the identity you want. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t eat a cookie as a reward.
How to use the four laws to avoid a bad habit:
Cue: make it invisible.
Sometimes if you remove a cue, you can remove the temptation.
Craving: make it unattractive.
Highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits. For example, the money you save now increases what you get to spend later.
Response: make it difficult.
Increase friction by increasing the number of steps between you and your bad habits. For example, leave your phone in another room.
Reward: make it unsatisfying.
Create a habit contract or have an accountability partner.
Add an immediate cost to performing a bad habit. Make the costs of your bad habits public and painful, like giving money away if you break the chain.
Review of Atomic Habits
In addition to the above Atomic Habits quotes and summary, I wanted to relay some of my personal experience with the tactics recommended. While I am writing this post at the time I just finished reading the book, I will note that I have successfully implemented some of the principles recommended to good results in the past.
For example, I use smaller plates to eat less, block social media notifications on my phone to minimize screen time, and place “bad habits” out of sight to help me focus on reading, good health, and other more desirable goals.
I also created this entire blog based on the principle of small incremental steps. Instead of telling myself, I didn’t have enough time, I just did SOMETHING every single day, and now, two years later, I have hundreds of posts and am bringing in an income from it.
I also recently took my husband’s advice to habit stack and am drinking my morning coffee while walking on the treadmill.
Even though I was already aware of some of these tips and practicing them, I really thought James Clear developed them into a nice framework and system that can be followed more rigidly, with purpose. I look forward to digging in deeper than before to improve my good reading habits and other life habits, and referring back to the Atomic Habits quotes and more in this post to reinforce the teachings.
James Clear Books
Books like Atomic Habits
- The Compound Effect
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
- The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life: A Practical Guide
And below are a few other self-help books I like and recommend:
Atomic Habits PDF / Workbook
Immerse yourself in the following PDFs and workbooks by author James Clear to achieve your Atomic Habits.
- Habit Tracker
- The Habits Scorecard
- Implementation Intention
- Habit Stacking
- Habit Contract
- Personality Tests