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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wilson

Atomic Habits: Good stuff. CAN’T recommend.

Who do you want to BE?

Atomic Habits by James Clear has some helpful tips to changing our lives AND, unfortunately, I can’t recommend you read it.

It is full of fatphobic rhetoric that 100% triggered my disordered eating brain. So, if you have ever had a dysfunctional relationship with food, exercise, or body image, I don’t recommend reading this one.


There’s some good stuff in there that’s worth sharing. Here are some highlights.

It’s not about what we want to DO (goals), it’s about who we want to BE (identity). Goals are temporary and if/when we reach them, we’re no longer motivated to continue the behavior. When we decide who we want to BE in the world, such as “I am a person who lives in a tidy home” then we act to stay in line with that identity.

The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are spectacularly limiting. If we’re always saying, “I’m never on time,” for example, then we will stay comfortable with that identity; it’s who we are after all. Instead of trying a different way to be, we stay in that limiting self-talk.

Just show up for yourself for just a few minutes. Sometimes the thought of cleaning our whole home feels overwhelming. Instead, we say, “I am going to set a timer for 5 minutes every day and today I am going to clean off this table.” We’ve shown up for ourselves and confirm who we want to be. And often, after those 5 minutes, we’ll want to do more. If not, no worries, because we’ve promised ourselves another 5 minutes tomorrow.

Just DO something. We can spend ages “researching” (searching Pinterest for 20 ways to clear the clutter!) but we never actually move anything. James Clear says we have to actually put ourselves into action. The research may feel good, but if we want to be productive, we have to start DOING.

We think we need to make, huge, sweeping changes, but the real gold is in small, incremental adjustments. Trying to change too much too fast will almost always backfire in disappointment or burnout.

Habit stacking. Connect our new habit with something we already do. Such as, doing our meditation after work, before dinner, every day.

Set up our environment for success. If we want to go outside every day, we put our going outside shoes in an obvious place, so they’re easy to find and a visual reminder, “Oh yeah, I want to be a person who enjoys nature.”

Choose gratitude whenever possible. Instead of “I have to” we say to ourself “I get to”. Change the mindset to gratitude for our mobile bodies, or jobs, or families, or homes. “I get to take care of my home.”

Give yourself some quiet reflection time to decide who you want to be and what kind of life you want to live. Then start trying on different actions that get you closer to that vision of yourself. And if you choose to actually read Atomic Habits, proceed with caution, ok? Ok.

Steps directly from the book:

How to create a good habit

1st law – cue – make it obvious

2nd law – craving – make it attractive

3rd law – response – make it easy

4th law – reward – make it satisfying

How to break a bad habit

1st law – cue – make it invisible

2nd law – craving – make it unattractive

3rd law – response – make it difficult

4th law – reward – make it unsatisfying

You can access some of the resources from the book and be signed up for emails here:

When you are ready and able to invest in your future calm, you can hire me or any of the talented pro organizers listed with the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) at

I'm fully vaccinated and now open for in person organizing sessions, sanity saving cleaning services, as well as packing and unpacking services. Gift certificates available.

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