Atomic Habits by James Clear: Summary Part 3

If creating a new habit or ditching an old habit is hard for you, then should give Atomic Habits by James Clear a try. The book is brilliant and offers many practical solutions to habit building problems. 

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But Atomic Habits is long and about 400+ pages, making it harder for people, especially the ones that do not read regularly. And that is why I have summarized Atomic Habits for your use.

Free bonus: Download the 3 part summary of Atomic Habits as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it and keep at your desk.

About the book

Atomic Habits

Book Name: Atomic habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Author: James Clear

Genre: Fiction – Non Fictionself-help

Atomic Habits Part 1

Atomic Habits Part 2

 Atomic Habits Part 3 (you are here)


This is just a book summary of Atomic Habits by James Clear to help other people who would not be able to read the entire book by themselves. These lines are taken from James’ book for academic purposes only. I am not posing as it is my work or my ideas. The copyrights rights are with the author only.

THE 4TH LAW Make It Satisfying

15 The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change

  • Pleasure teaches your brain that a behavior is worth remembering and repeating.
  • What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.
  • Consequences of bad habits are delayed while the rewards are immediate.
    • Brain prioritizes NOW
  • If you delay watching television and get your homework done, you’ll generally learn more and get better grades.
  • The feeling of success is a signal that your habit paid off
    • Whenever they skipped going out to eat, they transferred $50 into the “Trip to Europe” account.
  • Select short-term rewards that reinforce your identity rather than ones that conflict with it.
    • Goal is saving; buying a jacket is not the reward
    • Goal is exercise; Ice cream is not the correct reward.  Reward: Massage

16 How to Stick with Good Habits Every Day

  • Paper Clip Strategy – move from one container to another as you finish the task
  • “Don’t break the chain” is a powerful mantra.
  • Habit tracker follows the rules
    • makes the habit obvious
    • is attractive.
    • satisfying.
  • Habit tracking 
    • Only for important habits
    • immediately after habit
      • After I hang up the phone from a sales call, I will move one paper clip over.
  • never miss twice.
    • when successful people fail, they rebound quickly.
  • The problem is not slipping up;
    • the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.
  • Lost days hurt you more than successful days help you.
  • It’s easy to train when you feel good, but it’s crucial to show up when you don’t feel like it—
    • even if you do less than you hope.
  • When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” – Charles Goodhart,

17 How an Accountability Partner Can Change Everything

  • Even if you don’t want to create a full-blown habit contract, simply having an accountability partner is useful.

ADVANCED TACTICS How to Go from Being Merely Good to Being Truly Great

18 The Truth About Talent (When Genes Matter and When They Don’t

  • The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.
    • Habit to align with your natural inclinations and abilities.
  • genes do not determine your destiny.
    • They determine your areas of opportunity.
    • Genes can predispose, but they don’t predetermine.
  • Your personality is the set of characteristics that is consistent from situation to situation.
    • Openness to experience: from curious and inventive on one end to cautious and consistent on the other.
    • Conscientiousness: organized and efficient to easygoing and spontaneous.
    • Extroversion: outgoing and energetic to solitary and reserved
    • Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate to challenging and detached.
    • Neuroticism: anxious and sensitive to confident, calm, and stable.
  • build habits that work for your personality.
  • lower on conscientiousness will be less likely to be orderly by nature
    • need to rely more heavily on environment design to stick with good habits.
  • you are more likely to enjoy the things that come easily to you.
    • you are more likely to enjoy the things that come easily to you.
  • explore/exploit trade-off: 
    • The goal is to try out many possibilities, research a broad range of ideas, and cast a wide net.
      • In relationships, it’s called dating.
      • In college, it’s called the liberal arts.
      • In business, it’s called split testing.
    • shift your focus to the best solution you’ve found—but keep experimenting occasionally.
      • Google employees spend 80% of the workweek on their official job and 20%  on projects of their choice,
    • What feels like fun to me, but work to others?
    • What makes me lose track of time?
    • Where do I get greater returns than the average person?
    • What comes naturally to me?
  • When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.
    • By combining your skills, you reduce the level of competition, which makes it easier to stand out.
  • Our genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it.
    • They tell us what to work hard on.
    • genes can’t make you successful if you’re not doing the work.

19 The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work

  • The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities.
    • Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
Atomic habits James Clear Goldilocks
  • When you’re starting a new habit, keep the behavior as easy as possible so you can stick with it even when conditions aren’t perfect.
    • Once a habit has been established, however, it’s important to continue to advance in small ways.
      • These little improvements and new challenges keep you engaged.
  • You need to regularly search for challenges that push you to your edge
    • while continuing to make enough progress to stay motivated.
  • You need just enough “winning” to experience satisfaction and just enough “wanting” to experience desire.
  • Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated.
    • It’s the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference.
  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.
    • You have to fall in love with boredom.

20 The Downside of Creating Good Habits

  • When you know the simple movements so well that you can perform them without thinking, you are free to pay attention to more advanced details.
  • the benefits of habits come at a cost.
    • When you can do it “good enough” on autopilot, you stop thinking about how to do it better.
  • You can’t repeat the same things blindly and expect to become exceptional.
    • Habits are necessary, but not sufficient for mastery.
Repetition Atomic habits James Clear
  • It is precisely at the moment when you begin to feel like you have mastered a skill—right when things are starting to feel automatic and you are becoming comfortable—that you must avoid slipping into the trap of complacency.
    • The solution? Establish a system for reflection and review.
  • W/o reflection, we can make excuses, create rationalizations, and lie to ourselves.
  • In the beginning, repeating a habit is essential to build up evidence of your desired identity.
    • As you latch on to that new identity, however, those same beliefs can hold you back from the next level of growth.
    • Vegan developing a health complication, can not move further.
    • Veterans after return
  • Redefine yourself such that you get to keep important aspects of your identity even if your particular role changes.
    • “I’m an athlete” becomes “I’m the type of person who is mentally tough and loves a physical challenge.”
    • “I’m a great soldier” transforms into “I’m the type of person who is disciplined, reliable, and great on a team.”
    • “I’m the CEO” translates to “I’m the type of person who builds and creates things.”
  • A lack of self-awareness is poison.
    • Reflection and review is the antidote.


The Secret to Results That Last

Atomic habits James Clear

Little Lessons from the Four Laws

  • Happiness is simply the absence of desire.
    • Reward – Satisfied
  • It is the idea of pleasure that we chase.
  • Peace occurs when you don’t turn your observations into problems.
    • Not craving to fix everything
  • With a big enough why you can overcome any how .
    • Why are you doing what you do
  • Your actions reveal how badly you want something.
    • If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don’t really want it.
  • Self-control is difficult because it is not satisfying.
  • Our expectations determine our satisfaction.
  • Desire initiates. Pleasure sustains.
  • Hope declines with experience and is replaced by acceptance.

Other parts of the summary of Atomic habits

That brings us to the end of the summary Atomic Habits by James Clear. Catch up with the other parts of the three part summary of the book here!

Free bonus: Download the 3 part summary of Atomic Habits as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it and keep at your desk.

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Let’s talk

Was the summary of Atomic Habits by James Clear useful to you? What other books do you want me to summarize for you? What is favorite non fiction? Let us talk.


    • Gayathri

      Thank you.

    • Gayathri

      Thank you.

  1. Bewitched Reader

    I’ve heard about the original book, but never checked it out. Great post!

    • Gayathri


  2. DJ Sakata

    I want to live in the Goldilocks zone

    • Gayathri

      I am sure you will DJ.


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Gayathri has been reviewing books since 2010. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she works as a writer and a digital marketer. Head over to meet me!