James Clear

James Clear quotes on making progress

Author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic Habits. I write about building better habits.

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Working on a problem reduces the fear of it. It’s hard to fear a problem when you are making progress on it—even if progress is imperfect and slow. Action relieves anxiety.


When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small.


Go smaller. Can't learn an exercise? Reduce the range of motion. Struggling to grasp a new concept? Break it down. Failing to stick with a habit? Make it easy. Master stage one, then advance.


It's better to do less than you hoped than nothing at all. No zero days.


To improve, compare little things. -marketing strategies -exercise technique -writing tactics To be miserable, compare big things. -career path -marriage -net worth Comparison is the thief of joy when applied broadly, but the teacher of skills when applied narrowly.


Win the day. There are many questions swirling right now... How long will this last? How will we manage? How will we recover? How worried should I be? Leave it be. Nobody knows the answers. Have the best day you can, today. Win the moment in front of you now. Win the day.


Improvement is a battle that must be fought anew each day. Your next workout doesn't care how strong your last one was. Your next essay doesn't care how popular your last one was. Your next investment doesn't care how smart your last one was. Your best effort, again.


The feeling of progress is one of the best feelings of all. This is true even when progress is small.


You can be happy with who you are and still want to be better. You can love your body and still want to improve it. You can appreciate your financial state and still want to improve it. Progress doesn’t require self-loathing. You can feel successful along the way.


5 things to consider removing next year: -one toxic person -one annoying customer -one topic that robs your attention -one belief that’s holding you back -one commitment that isn’t worth the effort You don’t have to add things to your life to improve it.


Focus on your daily results and you’ll often make poor long-term choices. Focus on your daily choices and you’ll almost certainly enjoy good long-term results.


Take all the energy you spend on... -worrying about the past -worrying about the future -worrying about the news -worrying about what others think -worrying about if you might fail ... and channel that energy into one useful micro-action within your control. Then repeat.


Progress requires unlearning.


People generally have more control over their actions than their feelings. But we can influence our feelings by taking action. Take one small step. Move the body first and the mind will follow.


There are nearly endless opportunities to improve each day and finding them largely boils down to being curious. People who are better in the end are usually curious in the beginning.


Hard work is the engine. Strategy is the GPS. It’s difficult to get anywhere without hard work. If the engine stops running, progress stalls. But you’ll waste a lot of gas without a good strategy. It’s easier to make progress when you’re following the optimal path.


"Little by little, one goes far."


The most useful form of patience is persistence. Patience implies waiting for things to improve on their own. Persistence implies keeping your head down and continuing to work when things take longer than you expect.


Strength training is the assassin of self-doubt. It’s nearly impossible for confidence to decline when you watch the weight on the bar increase each week—even when starting from a modest level.


Improvement is an endless game. You can finish: -building a profitable company -writing a bestseller -winning a championship You can never finish: -perfecting your craft -learning all you can -maximizing your potential The way to win is to master that which can never be won.


There will always be room for high quality work. Excellence is perpetually scarce.


Time spent working hard is often better spent identifying where the bottleneck is located. Working hard on the wrong thing leads to frustration, not progress.


The Cycle of Improvement 1. Awareness - identify what you need to improve. 2. Deliberate practice - focus your conscious effort on the specific area you want to improve. 3. Habit - with practice, the effortful becomes automatic. 4. Repeat - begin the cycle anew.


The desire to belong often overpowers the desire to improve.


Bad habits and toxic relationships can become a crutch. They hurt us, but we know *how* they’ll hurt us. Meanwhile, improving your life is possible, but trying new things also involves uncertainty. Many people would rather repeat a known pain than deal with an unknown risk.


Ultimately, anyone who wishes to fulfill their potential must come to terms with the endless nature of self-improvement. Specific goals or projects may have a beginning and an end, but the process of improvement goes on forever. There is no finish line.


A habit must be established before it can be improved. Start small. Master the art of showing up. Optimize later.


When trying to improve, most people have a default line of attack. Progress may hide on the opposite side. Work: Be as committed to cutting expenses as you are to growing sales. Health: Be as intense about recovery as you are about training. Attack your goals from both sides.


Billionaire investor Seth Klarman on small, but consistent growth: "The effects of compounding even moderate returns over many years are compelling, if not downright mind-boggling." The same could be said of our habits. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.


Each day: 1. Read something. 2. Share something. 3. Make something. Your health & happiness will improve and we'll all be better off for it.


Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.


It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.


From Chapter 13 of Atomic Habits: "A habit must be established before it can be improved. If you can’t learn the basic skill of showing up, then you have little hope of mastering the finer details. Master the art of showing up."


It is better to make small progress every day than to do as much as humanly possible in one day. Do things you can sustain.


In many cases, improvement is not about doing more things right, but about doing less things wrong.


The things we measure are the things we improve. If you're not measuring, start. If you are, make sure you're measuring the right thing.


Making remarkable progress is not about doing more with what you have. It's about choosing to do less and mastering what remains.


Push enough to make progress, but not so much that it is unsustainable.


Avoiding mistakes is an underrated way to improve. It's easier to fix errors than boost skills. Rather than do your best, avoid your worst.


If you want to stay motivated for good, then start with a challenge that is just manageable, measure your progress, and repeat the process.


Setting goals can be useful for planning your progress, but you need to design a better system to actually make progress.

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