James Clear, Atomic Habits — Simple Strategies for Building (and Breaking) Habits, Questions for Personal Mastery and Growth, Tactics for Writing and Launching a Mega-Bestseller, Finding Leverage, and More (#648)

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“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

— James Clear

James Clear (@JamesClear) is a writer and speaker focused on habits and continuous improvement. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits, which covers easy and proven ways to build good habits and break bad ones. The book has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages. On average, Atomic Habits has sold one copy every 15 seconds since it was published.

James is also the creator of the 3-2-1 Newsletter, which is one of the most popular email newsletters in the world and has more than 2 million subscribers. Each issue contains 3 short ideas from James, 2 quotes from other people, and 1 question to consider that week. You can sign up for free at JamesClear.com.

He is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies, and his work is used by players and coaches in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. In college, he was an Academic All-American baseball player, and he is an avid weightlifter.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the video on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one supplementPeloton Row premium rower for an efficient workout, and You Need A Budget cult-favorite money-management app.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#648: James Clear, Atomic Habits — Simple Strategies for Building (and Breaking) Habits, Questions for Personal Mastery and Growth, Tactics for Writing and Launching a Mega-Bestseller, Finding Leverage, and More

This episode is brought to you by You Need A Budget! You Need A Budget is a cult-favorite budgeting app for a reason—it works. The app and its simple 4-rule method will change the way you think about your money and help you gain total control so you can plan for the things you need and get the things you want without guilt or stress. You Need A Budget has helped millions of people transform their finances, save their marriages, and live life on their own terms.

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This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could use only one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually AG1 by Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

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This episode is brought to you by Peloton Row! Peloton Row delivers personalized rowing workouts to help you learn and master your stroke. Form features like Form Assist and Form Ratings & Insights indicate how to improve your stroke in class in real time and provide a post-class breakdown so you can hit the Row harder next time. And with the ability to customize your target metrics, you become an expert at the level and pace that feels good for you. You get all your cardio and strength in one shot, while protecting your joints and ligaments in a high-intensity, low-impact way. Fun fact: you work 86% of your muscles in only 15 minutes.

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Want to hear another episode about changing your mindset to achieve optimal performance? Listen to this conversation with The Art of Learning author Josh Waitzkin, in which we discuss his pre-game ritual, cramming two months of learning into each day, going from zero to 10 instead of simmering at a constant six, and much more.

#375: Josh Waitzkin — How to Cram 2 Months of Learning into 1 Day

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with James Clear:

Website | Twitter | Instagram

SHOW NOTES

  • [06:52] Annual reviews.
  • [13:06] Habitual accountability.
  • [17:24] Systemic scaffolding.
  • [22:03] Capturing good ideas.
  • [29:15] Asana.
  • [32:02] Leveraging maximal results from minimal scale.
  • [41:50] Rolling with social platform inconsistencies.
  • [46:45] Don’t let the algorithm dictate your identity.
  • [50:55] The key to building lasting habits.
  • [55:07] How James would promote 5-Bullet Friday.
  • [1:00:59] What might an outside observer believe are your priorities?
  • [1:02:00] Success generates opportunities — and distractions.
  • [1:04:15] How to break a bad habit.
  • [1:10:51] How to build a good habit.
  • [1:20:23] Deconstructing the writing and marketing of Atomic Habits.
  • [1:59:07] Developing a pre-game ritual.
  • [2:04:19] How habits align with the expectations of our tribes.
  • [2:06:54] Optimizing environment for habit adherence.
  • [2:12:24] Parting thoughts.

MORE GUEST QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
— James Clear

“Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are either consciously or subconsciously. To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.”
— James Clear

“Decide the type of person you want to be, and then you prove it to yourself with small wins. And the more small wins, the more small habits that you perform, the more votes that you cast for that identity, the more you build up evidence of being that kind of person. And eventually you start to take pride in that aspect of your identity.”
— James Clear

“What little habits cast votes for being the kind of person who doesn’t miss workouts? Well, maybe one thing is, rather than doing a 45-minute workout when I only have 10 minutes, I reduce the scope and stick to the schedule and I do a couple sprints, or I do five sets of pushups or whatever it is. And so you find ways to reinforce your desired identity, even if it’s small.”
— James Clear

“If you go out and shoot a basketball for five minutes, you don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m a basketball player.’ But if you do it every day for six months or a year or two years, at some point you cross this invisible line. You’re like, ‘I guess playing basketball is kind of part of who I am.'”
— James Clear

“Most of the time, the desire to belong will overpower the desire to improve. So as best as possible, you’ve got to get those two things aligned and surround yourself with people where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.”
— James Clear

“You can do a lot with five good minutes. Five good minutes of exercise can reset your mood. Five good minutes of conversation can restore a relationship. Five good minutes of writing can make you feel great about the manuscript again. And so it doesn’t take much to feel good, to get back on the path, to continue to make progress.”
— James Clear

“Time will magnify whatever you feed it. If you have good habits, time becomes your ally, and all you need is patience. But if you have bad habits, time becomes your enemy. And every day that goes by, you kind of dig the hole a little bit deeper.”
— James Clear

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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4 Replies to “James Clear, Atomic Habits — Simple Strategies for Building (and Breaking) Habits, Questions for Personal Mastery and Growth, Tactics for Writing and Launching a Mega-Bestseller, Finding Leverage, and More (#648)”

  1. Hello Tim, as part of the conversation, you talked about cross-pollinating between podcast and email list. You often mention the show notes in your onversation, but I for instance listen while I drive and if I I want to look something up from the conversation, I often find myself writing an email text at a stoplight. What about if you send either the whole show notes, or a “best of” with a link to the entire show notes as a follow up to each eposide. Then you are presenting useful tips, it is reusing work that you have already done and you are leading people back to your website via email, either directly to the full show notes or two additional links in your website like other eposides or content.

    Hope that is helpful advice, Brian

  2. Just one thought on the discussion you had on optimising for the podcast vs. the newsletter.
    From the creator’s perspective, I understand you want to optimise for capturing the audience’s conversion and building an always bigger fan base. This is obviously necessary, so I understand you may think that you need to give the newsletter a higher priority.
    But I think what will drive more success, taking a page from Seth Godin’s book, will be optimising for whatever provides the most value for said audience.
    And don’t get me wrong Tim, I like the newsletter, but what it has given me as an audience member over the years pales in comparison to what the podcast has given me.
    If the newsletter hadn’t existed my life would be roughly the same, but thanks to the podcast, I’ve become a much better person over the last 7 or so years since I started listening.
    Hoping the podcast continues to grow as a means of providing value and does not get too lost on optimising for clicks!
    All the best to you and yours, and thanks. Juanma