5 Takeaways from “Atomic Habits” Podcast

Habits - 165 The Minimalist Podcast - length (90 minutes)

Podcast link (Apple)

James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

*The times after each takeaways designated when in the podcast they discuss that topic.

The process of behavior change is identity change (9:00)

Before you change a behavior you need to think of yourself as the type of person that does that behavior. But not in a “fake it till you make it” kind of way.

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become. (11:00)

Instead of trying to mentally trick yourself, think of each action as a vote. Every time you go to the gym when you don’t feel like it you’re casting a vote that you’re the type of person that exercises no matter what. Every time you don’t give into a food craving you cast a vote for the type of person that has strong food willpower. Over time, this will build confidence that you’re slowly creating the new good habit that you sought. Just like winning an election, no single vote is massively important, but over time they add up until the habit is formed.

Internalizing identities creates unnecessary resistance. (20:00)

“I have a sweet tooth.” “I’m not a morning person.” “I don’t do meal prep.” We’ve all said things like that to ourselves before. Creating this internal identity makes changes harder than it needs to be. Be wary of your vocabulary. Tie this into the idea of casting votes. Of course you won’t be confident about changing a habit you’ve had for 10 years, but don’t think about a massive change, think about casting one vote at a time. Over time, you will build that confidence and see yourself as that type of person.

Layering new habits into previous ones (43:00)

My favorite snippet of the podcast and most actionable for you to apply immediately. We already have hundreds of habits and layering in a desired habit into a current one makes it much easier. Say if you watch Netflix most nights before bed, but desire to stretch more, now you create a routine of every time you watch Netflix you stretch. The current habit can also serve as a cue for the desired one. Maybe every morning you make coffee and drink it while sifting through social media. You can keep the cue of drinking coffee, but now replace the habit with planning out your days meals.

You can also use what James Clear called “temptation bundling”, where you take something you want to do and pair it with something you need to do. If you want to watch the football game, but need to meal prep, combine those activities. Or if the activities aren’t suitable for multi-tasking you allow yourself the want after you accomplish the need. I will allow myself to watch the full football game after I go grocery shopping.

A habit must be established before it can be improved (54:00)

This is simple, but often overlooked. If you don’t download MyFitnessPal, you have no hope of tracking your macros. If you don’t show up to the gym, you have no hope of deadlifting 2x bodyweight. In the beginning stages of forming a new habit, don’t focus on the accuracy or perfection, focus on showing up and improving. The podcast also discusses the “2 minute rule.” (14:00) If the full routine of something seems overwhelming, focus on making the first 2 minutes a habit. If the only time you have to exercise is immediately in the morning, focus on putting on your clothes and cleaning up, that momentum will carry over.