Complete Atomic Habits Summary By James Clear

Atomic Habits Summary

Detailed atomic habits summary that you will get the gist of the whole book. I would highly recommend you to read the complete article.

Atomic habits is a self- help book by James Clear. It is a guide on how to develop good habits and break bad ones. It is certainly true that we become what we repeatedly do. A correction in behaviour can improve a person’s life quite a lot. 

In this book, Clear explains that Habits can work for or against you. It is a delicate line to walk.

Good habits make the optimal use of your time. On the other hand, bad habits make time your enemy. Atomic habit, like an atom of an element, is small and seems insignificant. But, it is part of a bigger picture which it contributes to forming.

You cannot turn your life around overnight, you must make consistent efforts each day. It is quite unlikely that you will wake up to be successful, one fine day.

Behavioural change is hard because your way of changing is wrong, or you are changing the wrong thing.

Clear says “With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.”

It is true that every action you do has consequences. But, keep in mind that each thing you are doing is an indicator of the person you wish to become.

When reacting to a certain situation, ask yourself “Is this the person I wish to become?” 

Now, each habit is in the form of a behavioural loop. This loop operates in 4 stages

1. Cue – you are feeling frustrated while work/studying

2. Cause – You need to relieve the stress

3. Response – You grab your phone

4. Reward – You satisfy the craving of relieving stress. Checking social media becomes associated with feeling stuck while working/studying.

This is just one example among the several others that he has given. We get stuck in this loop of our habits. It is to the point where we do it without thinking.

Since we are stuck in this cycle, it is quite hard to break bad habits. But, where there is a problem, there is also a solution.

So, according to James Clear, here are the 4 stages to form a good habit.

  1. Make it obvious
  2. Make it attractive 
  3. Make it easy 
  4. Make it satisfying

On the other hand, to break a bad habit, you must turn the behavioural loop the other way round. 

  1. Make the cue invisible
  2. Make the craving unattractive 
  3. Make the response difficult
  4. Make the reward unsatisfying

It is also true that the environment we are in affects the behaviour a lot. There are triggers all around. The key to self-control is to be around those triggers less.

For example, if you check your phone every five minutes, keep it in another room. If it’s not around you, you will be less tempted to use it. You must see what makes a bad habit unattractive. This is because the brain associates the habit with feelings of pleasure.

Why would you want to do something that won’t give you happiness, right? 

Another contributing factor to our behaviour is the people we are around.

Your family, friends and the people you look up to are highly influential in your life. So, choose your people wisely. The path to good habit formation is being with a group of people where your desired behaviour is considered normal. And, you should have things in common with them.

After all, your vibe attracts your tribe.

The habit, no matter good or bad, is easy for us. It is easier for me to eat a big mac than sticking to a weight loss plan. If you make the good habit easy, it will be easier to adapt to it. On the other hand, if you make it difficult for yourself to do the bad habit, it will be easier to break.

If you associate the good habit with satisfaction, you would want to do it again, as the brain seeks contentment.

Making an action easy, obvious and attractive helps you do it once. The fourth law – making it satisfying helps you do the action again. Thus, reinforcing the habit. On the other hand, if the bad habit doesn’t seem rewarding, you would not want to do it again. So, you wouldn’t feel like doing it again. 


As a serial binge watcher, I know how tempting it is to “watch just one more episode”, or “just checking my phone for a minute”. That very quickly turns into a day full of procrastination. The two-minute rule offers a simple solution to procrastination. To reinforce the good habit, don’t think of it as a habit. Think of it as an action that doesn’t take more than two minutes to do. We, humans, are simple people, and an easy way is always favourable.

How To Stop Procrastinating And Start Working

Some examples are ->

I will work out every day – I will wear my workout shoes

I will start studying – I will open my notes

I will learn a new language – I will greet a native speaker in that language.

Making long term commitments to habits is hard, but taking just a moment to do something seems like a piece of cake. 

When it comes to forming good habits and breaking bad ones, the feeling of accomplishment and validation plays an important role. Use technology to your benefit and use habit trackers.

It helps when you mark your progress. It always feels nice to see how far you have come. This is why people’s before/after photos are incredibly inspiring.

Validation is a great motivator, so you should have an accountability partner, someone whose opinion you care about. You would want to be a better person around them. This would encourage you to stick to good habits, and break bad ones. 

To stay motivated, the Goldilocks rule should also be kept in mind. It states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities.

The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. To succeed, you must play your league. It is apt that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life thinking that it is stupid.

– Written by Bhavika(Intern at BoldBlush)

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