The cover of Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits

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

by James Clear

James Clear is a bit of a self-help guru. His website is focused on habits, motivation, better eating, and strength training. As such, this book is squarely in the self-help category. I normally shy away from these, but I had an extra Audible credit to burn, so I gave it a spin.

The most powerful advice in the book is to look for ways in which your habits fall short of your desired identity. Our habits — bad and good — define us, so changing those habits requires changing our identity.

This insight helped me finally stop biting my nails. I decided that I wanted to be someone who took care of themselves. I wanted to get a manicure. I wanted to occasionally paint my nails to flaunt gender norms in the tiniest way. I haven’t been biting my nails; I’ve been taking care of them instead.

Habits are powerful. If this book is valuable, it’s for delivering that message over and over again.