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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear has been on the non-fiction bestseller list for years now. His book Atomic Habits is a great resource for those of us who want to bring some kind of consistent practice into our lives - meditation, playing an instrument, learning a language, eating healthy, getting fit (or all of the above!), etc.

Clear opens the book with his own story of getting hit in the face with a baseball bat when he was in high school, and his slow recovery and re-entry into the world of sports by making small consistent changes.

"Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.
  • The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.

  • The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner.

  • The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician."

In a chapter entitled, “The Best Way to Start a New Habit,” Clear cites a large study showing that people were most successful in engaging in activities such as exercising when they formed a very specific “implementation intention,” such as this:

“During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].”

He states, "Hundreds of studies have shown that implementation intentions are effective for sticking to our goals...."

Clear also talks about "Habit Stacking" in which you pair two habits: “After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.”

I love reading about strategies that explain how we can turn our goals and intentions into habits because I know that once we form a habit we are more likely to stick with it, and I have several activities for which I want to improve my skills.

Clear also writes about designing an environment conducive to good practice habits. For example, if you want to practice the piano but your keyboard is hidden away in a stuffy closet, you will be less likely to see it, and less likely to want to play. I wrote about this issue in my blog post called Mise en Place for piano students, which centered around another book about good practice habits!

To be sure, this is an American book written for Americans. My experience with Europeans is that they scratch their heads and wonder why we Yanks are so obsessed with productivity. Why are we always trying to achieve? Why not just relax more, and enjoy long meals followed by long siestas instead of constantly trying to improve ourselves? They have a valid point for sure. And I struggle with the balance. I try not to overload myself with achievements but can't help that I want to learn French, become a better musician and singer, cook more, and complete my RipeReads book reviews! If you notice I am reviewing less often it means that I am having success maintaining that balance. So many wonderful things to do with our one beautiful life!

Hardcover 308 pages, Audiobook 5 hr, 35 mins


Mother Daughter Murder Night, and The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store. Both are excellent so far!!


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