Small Steps, Substantial Results

If you have ever studied finance, you would surely embrace the power of compounding. How money if compounded over several years can turn into an attractive sum. But, have you ever thought this rule of compounding is applicable not in finance but personal life as well? I read a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. The principle of atomic habit will give a different perspective of doing things. Atomic means small, Habit means something which is inculcated in your daily routine that you cannot live your day without doing them. Some of the basic habits inoculated in everyone are like brushing the teeth, taking bath, sleeping on time. Similar to these, we can incorporate new habits in ourselves which will show amplified benefits after multiple years, just like how compounding works. This can be anything like reading the newspaper daily, practicing guitar for 10 minutes, doing a workout for 30 minutes. Anything small, but remarkable.

Why 1% matters

  • If we get 1% better each day, we will get 37 times better by the end
  • The habits don’t show results quickly. Therefore we give up because we don’t see any results coming but you need to understand the 8th wonder of the world. According to Albert Einstein, compounding is the eighth wonder of the world. 
  • Atomic Habits + Consistency = Life Changed

Screw Goals and Focus on System

Another idea the book highlights is focusing on the system and forget the goals. A similar idea has been put by Jeff Haden in his book The Motivation Myth. This is a very contrasting view as from childhood, we have been asked to focus solely on goals. However, the major driver of success is not the goal but something else. Before we find out that, let’s see what are the major problems with the goals.

  1. Winners and Losers have the same Goals. So it can’t be the goals that differentiate the people.
  2. Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.
  3. Goal restricts our happiness. We tend to think that we will be happy only once we reach the goal and thus agreeing to compromise with the present journey.
  4. Goals are at odds of long term success

So, if not goals, what is it that we should be focusing on. It’s the daily system or framework of the path towards the goal. In simple words, instead of focusing on output, focus on inputs. What will be the output is not in our control, but we surely can give our best by focusing only on inputs. The things we have in our hands. So, find a goal, research about the journey, then fall in love with the journey, forgetting about the goal and results. The purpose of setting goals is to win the game, the purpose of the system is to continue playing the game. If we focus on playing, the score just takes care of itself.

How to build Atomic Habits

Here are two of few tips given by James clear.

  1. Cue -> Make it obvious. Design your environment in such a way that you have fewer steps between you and your good behaviors and more steps between you and your bad behaviors.
  2. Craving -> Make it attractive. Do something which makes you enjoy that work.


So this was a reflection of one of the ideas of the best-selling book, “Atomic Habits”. If you have some time to invest, you should definitely read this book once. It will give a new perspective of getting things done and living life happily.

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