Book Review – Atomic Habits



Nothing like a lockdown to catch up on some reading. This one has been on my hit list for a while and I am only sorry to have taken so long to get to it. I read a lot of business and motivation books, most of them I read a chapter here and there but this one was hard to put down.


I am not going to spoil the book for you, but what I am going to do is give you a summary of some of his key messages and how I relate them to your money habits.

James starts with an interesting tale about Dave Brailsford, performance director for the British Cycling team. Brailsford was a believer in the aggregation of marginal gains – in other words, small improvements of 1% that add up over time and compound. It’s so easy to think that massive success requires massive action, which can feel too hard to bother! Now here’s how the math works – if you can get 1% better each day for 1 year, you’ll end up 37 times better. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement! They seem to make little difference on any given day yet the impact they deliver over the years can be enormous! It is only by looking back over the years that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes obvious.

It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. (hello, is anyone else thinking retirement planning? ) You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results. James even uses a financial example: that if you have very little money but you save just a little bit every month you on the path toward financial freedom (even if you are moving slower than you’d like).


A few of my other favourite tips:


The Law of Least Effort – no surprises here, this one is about making a new habit as easy as possible for yourself. An example of this is creating an automatic debit across to your savings, immediately after you are paid (save first, spend what is left!) This removes the chance that you will forget to transfer the funds, or convince yourself to spend the money on something you don’t really need. Habits are easier to build when they fit into the flow of your life.


The Goldilocks Rule – states that humans experience peak motivation when they are working on tasks that are right on the edge of their abilities. However the greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom! (this one is tough! we all know how boring it is to save money, knowing and accepting this is key here). One way to combat this is to increase your savings every 6 months, just pushing to put a little bit more away might keep you interested and engaged.


Make is Satisfying – Use reinforcement, track your habit and never miss twice. If you forget to do something, make sure you get back on track immediately. I like this one and I believe it reinforces the value of financial advice – tracking and accountability!

The secret to getting results is to never stop making improvements (no matter how small). Tiny changes, remarkable results.


You can apply these principles to any aspect of your life and for this reason, I encourage you to read the book.


While all care has been taken in the preparation of this material, no warranty is given in respect of the information provided and accordingly neither Tanya Carlson, GPS Wealth Ltd nor its related entities, employees or agents shall be liable on any ground whatsoever with respect to decisions or actions taken as a result of you acting upon such information