Book Club Self Trends & News

Atomic Habits: book review

By Fiona Bugler • 4th September 2020

Atomic Habits by James Clear is a well-constructed and practical book and reminds us that small steps lead to big changes. i-wellbeing shares the top takeaways.

Atomic Habits stands out as one of the more useful and practical ‘self-help’ books in recent years. In breaking down how habits are made and how habits are cemented, James Clear sets out a solid foundation for the concepts behind the common-sense guide.

Key takeaways from Atomic Habits include re-examining how we look at goals; rather than focusing on setting goals, Clear suggests we need to pay attention to the system we put in place for the end result.

Atomic Habits takeaway: systems not goals

If, for example, your goal is to build a million-dollar business, your system is to test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns. If you completely ignored your goal and focused only on your system, would you still succeed? Clear suspects, you would.

Environment and habits

Other takeaways include examining your environment and seeing whether it’s the right one for you to implement new habits. If you want to avoid watching TV, he says, unplug it; trying to avoid social media, then put your phone out of reach.


Atomic Habits in two minutes a day

He also points out how new habits can be formed in short periods of time. Just two minutes of exercise a day, he says, is manageable and can set you up for a lifelong fitness habit.


Mindset matters and tips to make things stick include telling yourself you are the person who’s emerged from taking on a new habit, for example, “I don’t smoke”, not, “I’m giving up smoking.”

Rewards and habit stacking

Clear also recommends to make an atomic habit stack you should reward yourself. He also suggests you learn to habit stack; identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top. For example, if you have coffee when you wake, layer on your desired new habit: “After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.”

Find out more

There’s loads more advice, research and practical tips to help you, ultimately, live a better life. And for ongoing support and inspiration, visit to sign up for his email and to read his articles.

Atomic Habits by James Clear (Penguin Books, £15.99)


Fiona Bugler

Fiona is the creator of all things editorial, she’s a journalist with a life-long passion for health, fitness and wellbeing. For more than a decade she worked with business leaders and large groups as a personal trainer and running coach and this background informs the content she creates.

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