Atomic Habits by James Clear  is one of my favourite books and should, in my opinion, be a part of any health and wellbeing journey… of any person’s life journey in general really! Clear takes the fresh perspective of encouraging the reader to take their eyes off the goals they have in life, which only serve to give us a direction, and to instead focus on the ‘systems’ required to see those goals accomplished. It’s these systems that are where we make progress.  The core of these systems are the habits we have. Clear provides methods to identify current habits, categorise them as productive or unproductive (noting none are innately good or bad), teaches how to build the habits wanted in our lives, and how to remove the ones that don’t serve us.

The methods discussed in Atomic Habits work, because they teach why habits matter. Throughout the book, the reader is reinforced with the message that habits are important, not for the sake of having “life hacks”, and to be able to do more, faster. That in itself won’t see us create and keep effective habits. We learn that habits are about the person we want to become. Clear writes “the ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity”. We become our habits. Our habits form our identity.

Let’s say for example you have a goal to weigh 60kg. If you wake up every day and jump on the scale to weigh yourself, you aren’t going to get where you want to be. Focusing on that goal will do nothing on it’s own. Instead you need to concentrate on the processes that need to be in place in order to see that goal accomplished. These are your habits, and in this example would be your actions and behaviours around eating, drinking and exercise. Change your views around the words. Your intention is to have specific times and durations for workouts daily, to track your meals and macros daily, and to drink 2litres of water daily. This is your intention for the next three months. Don’t worry about weighing yourself and obsessing over the scale as such – to stick to your daily intentions – your habits. This is your process to trust. Then, after three months where are you? What trajectory did your body and mind take? If you followed your process, the goal will take care of itself.

Further to this, when you are looking at your processes (that is, your habits), you need to consider the person you want to become. Why do you want to be 60kg? So that you can be a healthier person. So then you need to look at the actions that form the character of a ‘healthy’ person. To build productive habits, it’s important to know who it is that you want to be in order to achieve change. This comes back to that point above around identity.

In my premier book, Running Thoughts, I speak about the habits I hold for myself. This includes habits around planning, prepping and tracking meals; ensuring that meal plans contain adequate protein; exercising daily – both planned activities and incidental movement; drinking 2 to 3l of water daily; and working on building a healthy, positive, science-based resilient mindset – this part is important to see me through the hard times. “Bookending” my day with solid morning and evening habits sets me up for a productive day that aligns with my identity.

Running-Thoughts by Tracey Kelly, self-help

Morning Routine:

My alarm goes off at 5am. I get straight up, make my morning drink and dress in my workout wear. I then drink and spend 15 minutes journalling, then fifteen minutes reading. Once done, I go for a 3km run. I get home, shower, get dressed for the day. By this time my husband (who’s actions are his own and outside the realm of my control) is up and getting ready for work, so I can make my bed.  I place my journal, pen and reading book beside my bed ready for the next morning.

Night Routine

At 7pm all devices in the household go down (save for television). This applies to the kids too. We all have dinner together at the table. After dinner, my teen boys have chores around clearing the table and doing the dishes, so I bath my youngest and get her in her pyjamas. I brush her hair, we read a book. Her bedtime is 8pm. She’s hard work to get to sleep still, at 5 years old, so I lie down with her in her room until she falls asleep. By 8:15pm I sneak out. I read for another fifteen minutes or so until 8:30. I then do 20minutes of Yoga, and a few minutes of meditation and breathing awareness. I say goodnight to my boys. I then go to bed early, to ensure I get at least 7 and a half hours or so of sleep a night. I aim for a bedtime of 9pm.

If you haven’t already read it, I can’t recommend Atomic Habits any higher, and want you to get on to it.

How about you?

How do you feel about your daily habits? Are they getting you closer to being the person you want to be in life? Or maybe, you’ve read Atomic Habits and Running Thoughts already?

Comment below with your thoughts!