Atomic Habits: A Remarkable And Continuously Selling Self-Help Book

February 20, 2023 at 10:13 p.m.


James Clear’s “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” was  officially the number one best-selling book on Amazon for 2021. It also spent every week of 2021 on the New York Times best-seller list — usually in the #1 or #2 or #3 spot, where it remains today.  

In contrast, most books written by celebrities appear quickly and generally disappear just as fast. In addition, “Atomic Habits” has been translated into more than 50 languages. It is frequently among the top 10 best-selling books in major international markets like Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom.  

There are also videos, seminars, talking books and guidebooks available. More than 10 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide. (My book “Science Snippets” was a few copies shy of that.)  

Clear’s book has a simple premise, it explains how little habits and progressing by just 1% every day, can do a lifetime of wonders for a person. It has also been rated as one of the best books that will support you in making the changes you want to make to achieve your full potential. A book to improve your life no matter your age.   It is rated as No. #2 on the list of the 33 best self improvement books.  (The Alchemist is No. #1.)   This week’s Wall Street Journal has Atomic Habits No. 3 overall, No. 6 in nonfiction books, No. 4 in nonfiction combined and No. 1 in hardcover business books. It has a long way to go, however, before it approaches 20 million – the estimated sales of the Bible.

History    

In November 2012, Clear started publishing articles at jamesclear.com. These articles were based on Clear’s years of experiments with habits.

Within a few months, he had gained his first 1,000 email subscribers. His newsletters were first published in 2013. By 2014, his email list expanded to over 100,000 subscribers, which made it one of the fastest-growing newsletters on the internet.  In 2015, he reached 200,000 email subscribers and signed a book deal with Penguin Random House to begin writing it. In 2016, his articles started getting published in publications such as Forbes, Time and Entrepreneur. NBA, NFL and MLB coaches started reading Clear's articles and sharing them with their teams.

Clear established the Habits Academy, which acquired the status of being the main training arena for people and companies that wanted to adopt improved habits in both life and work. Developing start-ups and Fortune 500 firms also started registering their leaders and training their employees.

More than 10,000 leaders, coaches, managers and educators have graduated from the Habits Academy. When Clear was finalizing this book in 2018, his website was receiving millions of monthly visitors and almost 500,000 email newsletter weekly subscribers.

I continue to subscribe to his email. This week one of his comments was as follows: “Finish something. Anything. Stop researching, planning, and preparing to do the work and just do the work. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad it is. You don’t need to set the world on fire with your first try. You just need to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to produce something.  Stop debating what you should make and just make something."

The Book In Three Sentences

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.

The Five Big Ideas

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.  If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.  The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.

“The Five Laws of Behavior Change” are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy,  (4) make it satisfying and (5) environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be in a hurry.  According to Clear, “When we introduce 1% changes, we might not be able to notice things initially but they make a huge difference. If we improve 1% daily for a year, we will be 37 times better by the end of it. If we get 1% worse daily for a year, we will be near zero by its end. Our habits multiply in their impact with their repetition. They might not seem to us to make a huge difference on a day but their impact over the months and years is gigantic. You will realize the impact of good or bad habits after two, five or ten years. “

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry. His new book “Science Snippets” is available from Amazon and other book sellers. It contains a number of previously published columns.  He can be reached by email at  [email protected].  



James Clear’s “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” was  officially the number one best-selling book on Amazon for 2021. It also spent every week of 2021 on the New York Times best-seller list — usually in the #1 or #2 or #3 spot, where it remains today.  

In contrast, most books written by celebrities appear quickly and generally disappear just as fast. In addition, “Atomic Habits” has been translated into more than 50 languages. It is frequently among the top 10 best-selling books in major international markets like Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom.  

There are also videos, seminars, talking books and guidebooks available. More than 10 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide. (My book “Science Snippets” was a few copies shy of that.)  

Clear’s book has a simple premise, it explains how little habits and progressing by just 1% every day, can do a lifetime of wonders for a person. It has also been rated as one of the best books that will support you in making the changes you want to make to achieve your full potential. A book to improve your life no matter your age.   It is rated as No. #2 on the list of the 33 best self improvement books.  (The Alchemist is No. #1.)   This week’s Wall Street Journal has Atomic Habits No. 3 overall, No. 6 in nonfiction books, No. 4 in nonfiction combined and No. 1 in hardcover business books. It has a long way to go, however, before it approaches 20 million – the estimated sales of the Bible.

History    

In November 2012, Clear started publishing articles at jamesclear.com. These articles were based on Clear’s years of experiments with habits.

Within a few months, he had gained his first 1,000 email subscribers. His newsletters were first published in 2013. By 2014, his email list expanded to over 100,000 subscribers, which made it one of the fastest-growing newsletters on the internet.  In 2015, he reached 200,000 email subscribers and signed a book deal with Penguin Random House to begin writing it. In 2016, his articles started getting published in publications such as Forbes, Time and Entrepreneur. NBA, NFL and MLB coaches started reading Clear's articles and sharing them with their teams.

Clear established the Habits Academy, which acquired the status of being the main training arena for people and companies that wanted to adopt improved habits in both life and work. Developing start-ups and Fortune 500 firms also started registering their leaders and training their employees.

More than 10,000 leaders, coaches, managers and educators have graduated from the Habits Academy. When Clear was finalizing this book in 2018, his website was receiving millions of monthly visitors and almost 500,000 email newsletter weekly subscribers.

I continue to subscribe to his email. This week one of his comments was as follows: “Finish something. Anything. Stop researching, planning, and preparing to do the work and just do the work. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad it is. You don’t need to set the world on fire with your first try. You just need to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to produce something.  Stop debating what you should make and just make something."

The Book In Three Sentences

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.

The Five Big Ideas

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.  If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.  The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.

“The Five Laws of Behavior Change” are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy,  (4) make it satisfying and (5) environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be in a hurry.  According to Clear, “When we introduce 1% changes, we might not be able to notice things initially but they make a huge difference. If we improve 1% daily for a year, we will be 37 times better by the end of it. If we get 1% worse daily for a year, we will be near zero by its end. Our habits multiply in their impact with their repetition. They might not seem to us to make a huge difference on a day but their impact over the months and years is gigantic. You will realize the impact of good or bad habits after two, five or ten years. “

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry. His new book “Science Snippets” is available from Amazon and other book sellers. It contains a number of previously published columns.  He can be reached by email at  [email protected].  



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