“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.
The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.
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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.
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:
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear | Amazon
- The 3-2-1 Newsletter | James Clear
- Annual Reviews | James Clear
- Tools of Titans: Derek Sivers Distilled | The Tim Ferriss Show #202
- T-Handle Kettlebell : 3 Steps (with Pictures) | Instructables
- 3 Simple Ways to Create an Exercise Habit | James Clear
- Natural Happiness: The Truth About Exercise and Depression | James Clear
- How James Clear is Writing His Next Book | Superorganizers
- Reading Like a Bird of Prey | Austin Kleon
- Meet Your Next Favorite Book | Goodreads
- Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse | Amazon
- The 5 Levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs | Verywell Mind
- Manage Your Team’s Work, Projects, & Tasks Online | Asana
- Tame Your Work, Organize Your Life | Evernote
- Google Docs | Google Workspace
- The Physics of Productivity: Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done | James Clear
- Micro-Progress and the Power of Getting Started | CBS News
- Want to Make a Habit Stick? Start Small – Atomic Small | CBS News
- Don’t Grow Your Garden in Someone Else’s Yard | Paul Jun
- Best TikTok Dances: Top 20 | Dexerto
- Dive Into Anything | Reddit
- Cultivate | Chrome Web Store
- Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year | James Clear
- Quick Start Guide to Identity-Based Habits | James Clear
- The High Cost of Productivity Lost To Task Switching | Wrike
- Caffeine: America’s Most Popular Drug | Kuakini Foundation
- Kitchen Safe Time Locking Container | Amazon
- Meditation, Mindset, and Mastery | The Tim Ferriss Show #201
- How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2-Minute Rule” | James Clear
- 1999 [Explicit] by Prince | Amazon Music
- Transcendental Meditation
- Archimedes’ Lever: How You Can Move the World | Eric Kim
- The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel | Amazon
- Morgan Housel — The Psychology of Money, Picking the Right Game, and the $6 Million Janitor | The Tim Ferriss Show #576
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg | Amazon
- Cal Newport — The Eternal Pursuit of Craftsmanship, the Deep Life, Slow Productivity, and a 30-Day Digital Minimalism Challenge | The Tim Ferriss Show #568
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport | Amazon
- NPD Publishers Marketplace BookScan | Publishers Marketplace
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering by Marie Kondo | Amazon
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle | Amazon
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale | Amazon
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson | Amazon
- Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — The Surprising Stories Behind 15+ Million Copies Sold, Crucial Decisions, The Art of Home Run Headlines, How to Build a Lean Team, Lessons from Will Smith, Personal Reinvention, and More (#647) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield | Amazon
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss | Amazon
- Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin | Amazon
- Jocko Willink on Discipline, Leadership, and Overcoming Doubt | The Tim Ferriss Show #187
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money — That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki | Amazon
- Tim Ferriss’ DEAL Formula to Work Less and Earn More | The Art of Improvement
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss | Amazon
- El Arroyo | Instagram
- How to Get Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like It
- Josh Waitzkin on Beginner’s Mind, Self-Actualization, and Advice from Your Future Self | The Tim Ferriss Show #412
- Neil Gaiman — The Interview I’ve Waited 20 Years to Do | The Tim Ferriss Show #366
- Jerry Seinfeld — A Comedy Legend’s Systems, Routines, and Methods for Success | The Tim Ferriss Show #485
- [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
- Derek Sivers
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- James P. Carse
- Isaac Newton
- Gayle King
- Morgan Housel
- Charles Duhigg
- Cal Newport
- Jocko Willink
- Sam Hinkie
- Kim Kardashian
- Naval Ravikant
- Josh Waitzkin
- Marcelo Garcia
- Neil Gaiman
- B.J. Novak
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Molly Ferriss
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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5 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)”
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
This was a great episode.
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
super content episod sir
I listened to this 3x, it was that good.