Bullet Point Book Summary: Atomic Habits By James Clear

Bullet Point Book Summary: Atomic Habits By James Clear


This is a bullet point per chapter book summary of Atomic Habits by James Clear. I am planning on doing book summaries for most non-fiction books that I read going forward since it takes me twice the time to slog through non-fiction and I forget all about it a few months later. I suppose life is fair, your girl is able to gobble up fiction within a day, but is moaning in stress like a seal after a few chapters of non-fic in a row.

Well, that’s what these summaries are for, right? It is as much for me as it is for those who don’t have time to read but don’t want to miss out on the hype. Worry not, we are all in the same boat.


summary atomic habits bullet



Chapter 1

  • 1% better every day because habit compounds.
  • If I haven’t seen results yet, that doesn’t mean the things I am doing are not working, it simply means that it is compounding. At a certain threshold, I will be able to reap what I sow.
  • I need to be patient because things do not happen overnight.

Chapter 2

  • To change a habit, it has to be a part of oneself
    1. I don’t smoke anymore        –> I am not a smoker
    2. I am trying to read more     –> I am a reader
    3. I am trying to learn music   –> I am a musician
  • Feed good input to yourself as you become what you believe. If you spend years telling yourself you can’t do something, eventually, it will become a part of your identity.
  • The hardest part of making a habit stick is to make changes to one’s identity.
  • In order to achieve our best selves, we are constantly unlearning things, questioning and changing. And that is okay.
  • Habits form identity.
  • Focus not on what I want to achieve, but who I want to become.

Chapter 3

  • To change a habit I should ask myself:
    1. How to make it obvious?
    2. How to make it attractive?
    3. How to make it easy?
    4. How to make it satisfying?

Chapter 4

  • Pointing-calling system: hearing bad habits/good habits (or to-do list) spoken aloud, makes me more aware of my own thoughts.
  • Habit scorecard : (+) good habit, (-) negative habit, (=) neutral habit (Ref. Habit scorecard)
    • If there are difficulties while writing down the habit scorecard, ask myself, “Does this behavior help me become the type of person I want to become? Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity?”

Chapter 5

  • If I want change, I have to make it obvious.
  • Implementation intention: I will [behavior] at [time] in [location] (Ref. Implementation intention)
  • Habit stacking: After [current habit] I will [new habit] (Ref. Habit stacking)

Chapter 6

  • Environment matters; separate places for habits.
  • Each habit should have its own home.
  • Products are chosen not because of what they are, but where they are.
  • Think of my environment as filled with my relationships with said objects.

Chapter 7

  • Addictions can suddenly disappear if there is a radical change in the environment.
  • One can break a habit, but not forget it.
  • Make cues of bad habits invisible and good habits obvious.

Chapter 8

  • Habit/motivation is fueled by dopamine.
  • Dopamine is released when we anticipate pleasure and experience it.
  • The anticipation of reward is what pushes someone to take action.
  • Temptation bundling + Habit stacking (Ref. Temptation bundling):
    1. After pull out phone, will do 10 burpees (NEED)
    2. After 10 burpees, will check Facebook (WANT)

          After [current habit], I will [habit I need]
          After [habit I need], I will [habit I want]

Chapter 9

  • We imitate the habits of the close, the many, and the powerful.
  • Our culture sets our expectations on what is “normal”.
  • Surround myself with the people whose habits I want to have.
  • Most people would rather fit into the tribe than be right alone.

Chapter 10

  • Life is predictive, even though it feels reactive.
  • Craving is the desire to change the internal state/a sense that something is missing.
  • Feelings and emotions help up decide the best course of action.
  • Instead of  “I have to” (burden) –> “I get to” (opportunity)
  • Three deep breaths, smile –> Happy mood

Chapter 11

  • Best is the enemy of good.
  • Habits are based on frequency, not time.

Chapter 12

  • Humans are motivated to do what is easy.
  • Habits are easier to build when they flow into your life.
  • Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible.
  • Reduce friction.

Chapter 13

  • Make habits as easy as possible to start.
  • The point is not to do one thing, but to master the habit of showing up.
  • The secret is to always stay below the point where it feels like work.
  • It is better to do less than nothing at all.
  • Two-minute rule: New habit should take less than 2 minutes to do (make it bite-sized).

Chapter 14

  • Lock in future actions when the mindset is in the right place rather than waiting to see where desire takes me in the moment.
  • Automate my habits – use technology to make things easier for me.
  • One-time choices – single action that will continue to deliver an increased return over time. Example: buy good mattresses, get vaccinated, get a dog, etc.

Chapter 15

  • The problem is not knowledge, but consistency.
  • Ignore immediate reward, favor delayed reward for success.
  • To get a habit to stick, it has to feel successful, even in a small way.
  • Open a savings account, pay myself whenever I decided to eat in instead of eating out. Reward myself (monetary, self-pampering, etc).

Chapter 16

  • Habit tracking: create visual cues – (1) motivating because progress is seen (2) feels satisfying.
  • Never miss twice – fail and rebound quickly.
  • First rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily
  • The human mind wants to “win” at whatever game is being played – when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Chapter 17

  • Pain is an effective teacher. If failure is painful, it gets fixed.

Chapter 18

  • Play the game where the odds are in my favor.
  • Competence is highly dependent on context.
  • Genes and personalities influence our habits. (Ref. Deliberate practice)
  • In the beginning, explore –> If I win, exploit; If I lose, explore
  • Narrow in habits that are most satisfying to me.
  • If I cannot find a game where the odds are stacked in my favor, create one.
  • If I cannot win by being better, win by being different.
  • Until I work as hard as those I admire, don’t explain way their success as luck.

Chapter 19

  • Maintain motivation and achieve peak level of desire = work on the task with “just manageable difficulty”
  • The Goldilocks rule: human peak motivation is when they are working on things that are not too hard, not too easy. But just right.
  • When starting a new habit, keep it easy –> once established –> important to advance in small ways
  • I have to fall in love with boredom.
  • When a habit is important to me, I have to be willing to stick to it in any mood.

Chapter 20

  • Improvement is learning habits + fine-tuning them
  • Reflect every year:
    1. What went well this year?
    2. What didn’t go so well this year?
    3. What did I learn?
  • Keep identity small –> the more I cling onto something, the less capable I am to adapt when life challenges.
  • Life is constantly changing, we need to reflect in order to see if old habits and beliefs are still serving us.


  • It is desire, not intelligence that prompts behavior.
  • Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more.



Small habits don’t add up, they compound.



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