Two-Minute Book Review: Atomic Habits

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

“Atomic Habits,” by James Clear, will be among the most valuable books I read in 2019.

Atomic Habits James Clear

I was drawn to it because, as a soloist, my time is my inventory.  I’m always looking for ways to do more of the stuff that matters, both professionally and personally.  With the subtitle “An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” I was hoping “Atomic Habits” would help me identify some areas where I’m getting in my own way.

The author delivers the goods.  Clear describes the book as “an operating manual,” and there’s a heavy focus on systems: “You do not rise to the level of your goals,” Clear writes. “You fall to the level of your systems.”

Clear presents a set of four laws to create a good habit.  (And their inversions, the four laws to break a bad habit.)  It’s a practical framework and one that’s easy to apply.  And the discussion about the value of “habit tracking” makes me feel better about the spreadsheet I’ve kept, since 2006, to log my workouts.  (This is one spreadsheet of many in my life.  Nerd alert!)

But “Atomic Habits” is not purely an operating manual.  Early on, Clear draws a compelling link between our habits and our identities.  This context is invaluable, as Clear convincingly demonstrates that our habits are not what we do, but rather who we are.

As Clear writes, in one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

            Other Choice Quotes:

Atomic Habits author James Clear
James Clear (source:

“Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.”

“Genes do not determine your destiny.  They determine your areas of opportunity.”

“Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits.  Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits.  Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits.  Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits.  You get what you repeat.”

            Read It If:

You’re into self-improvement, and you realize (or can be convinced) that it’s not about fluffy daily affirmations, but real daily work.

Here’s another Two-Minute Book Review, for “Bad Blood,” the sordid tale of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2019 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.