83 pages 2 hours read

James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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Chapters 11-14

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “The 3rd Law: Make It Easy”

Chapter 11 Summary: “Walk Slowly, but Never Backward”

Making it easy is the 3rd Law of Behavior Change. Chapter 11 explores Voltaire’s maxim that “the best is the enemy of the good” (Chapter 11, 2). As evidence, Clear describes an experiment conducted by Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida. In a class on film photography, he divided his class into two groups and gave them different assignments. One half was graded on quantity, and the other half was graded on quality. The best photographs were produced by the quantity group because they practiced more.

To change, you do not need to find the best plan or strategy, you just have to start. Clear distinguishes between being in motion and taking action. Being in motion involves planning, strategizing, and learning. However, this does not produce results. In contrast, action describes concretely working towards a goal. Motion is researching diet plans; action is starting a diet. Motion is seductive because it makes you feel like you are working towards a goal without having to actually try. Once you try, you might fail, and humans try to avoid failure.

To master a habit, don’t strive for perfection, but focus on repetition. Every time you repeat an action, you strengthen your neural circuits for that action.