What the RightCapital Book Club Wants Everyone to Know From "Atomic Habits"

16 Mar 2022

Man running on an inclined walkway against a wall

Earlier this year, a few team members at RightCapital formed a book club to read James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” and both the book and our conversations around it have brought us many positive changes in both our work and personal lives. Whether you are looking to adjust your own productivity or health habits or hoping to influence your clients to form better financial habits, we wanted to share what we learned and loved from the book.

Start small

One example of starting small is to pare down your desired habit into two-minute blocks to make it more achievable. Clear notes that anyone can fold just one pair of socks, and then that small task will likely lead to the rest of the laundry being folded because you’re already in the zone. This idea resonated with Mary Grace from Marketing for her upcoming half marathon. She started running one mile, worked her way up to weekend 5Ks, and now is just about ready for her 13.1 mile run!

Aim for just 1% better at a time

Sandro from Sales really liked the idea of trying to become just 1% better each time you practice a habit. Good habits “are the compound interest of self-improvement” and small changes make a big impact over time. If, for example, your client’s goal is to start saving more from each paycheck, they could transfer $100 from one paycheck into a savings account, then $101 from the next paycheck, and onward. Before long, their savings could rocket.

Build “identity-based” habits

Oftentimes we start goals with language about what we want to achieve instead of making a habit part of our identity. James Clear notes, “The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader” as an example of how thinking of yourself in the way you envision can help you get there. Clear says there is a simple two-step process to help with this advice: (1) Decide the type of person you want to be. (2) Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Experiment with habit stacking

If there’s a habit you want to start, try “stacking” it with something you already do everyday. For example, if you want to spend time every day looking at your clients’ plans in RightCapital and you also drink a cup of coffee every morning, you could make it a new ritual to look at RightCapital while you are drinking your coffee or right after your last sip. After a while, these two activities will be automatically linked in your head. Erin in Marketing revolutionized her productivity in the mornings with this idea by linking many habits she wanted to do all together, without even having to think about what’s next in the routine.

Keep going after a habit break

Carly in Operations said that she was a fan of the nugget of how to not let a break of a good habit become the beginning of a bad habit. She notes, “If a workout streak ends, don’t start a new streak of not working out. Don’t let one bad day become two bad days.” 

Make it easy

Jason on our Support Team offered up that one of his major takeaways was just making things easy. If you’re trying to eat better, for example, hide the chips and put fruit in a bowl on the table to make it easier to reach for healthy alternatives when you are feeling hungry. If you want to stop scrolling on social media, remove those tempting apps from your phone.

Prep your environment

Similarly, Patricia on our Operations Team wanted to note that, “If you surround yourself with experiences and resources to nurture a talent or desirable trait, you will be more likely to get to where you want to be.” If you want to do yoga, set up an area in your home where your mat can be out all the time or set up easily so you don’t have to move your couch when you want to practice. If you’re taking a group class, get to know the other people there to surround yourself with those who have similar goals. You may have heard the adage that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most, so make sure those folks aren’t steering you in the wrong direction of your goals.

Free up mental space

If you train your brain to know when or how you do certain things, you’ll make fewer decisions and free up brain space for more fun or complicated tasks that require more energy. If you always order pizza on Friday nights, you never need to have a long conversation (or debate) with your family about what everyone wants. Use that extra brain energy to win a family game of Catan or finally put together that piece of furniture.