James Clear

James Clear quotes on self reflection

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

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Externally, be humble. Internally, be confident.


Be forgiving with your past self. Be strict with your present self. Be flexible with your future self.


For the last week, I have started each day by writing “What do I want?” at the top of a blank page. It’s surprising how useful it is to keep asking yourself this question. Each time, my answers get more precise. Once I know what I want, I translate the answer into action steps.


The most important conversation is the conversation you have with yourself each day.


You are the average of the five stories you tell yourself the most.


3 things that help habits stick: 1) Repetition. Habits form based on frequency, not time. 2) Stable context. If the context is always changing, so is the behavior. You need a reliable environment. 3) Positive emotions. If it feels good, you’ll want to repeat it.


People keep reading self-help and revisiting the same ideas because that’s precisely what we need: to be reminded. The problem is not that information is unhelpful, but that attention is fleeting. Nobody focuses on one idea every minute of the day. Good books refocus the mind.


How to prepare for bad luck: -spend less than you earn -build an emergency fund -get fit before you need to -be the friend you’ll need some day -ask “How could X go wrong?” and plan for failure -build confidence by conquering small challenges when life is easy


Exceptional teachers not only understand their topic, but also know why someone might misunderstand it. Great writers, coaches, & leaders know the mistakes their readers, players, & employees are likely to make. You want a master who remembers what it is like to be a beginner.


Reading can teach you the best of what others already know. Reflection can teach you the best of what only you can know.


One version of confidence is: “I’ve got this figured out.” Another version is: “I can figure this out.” The first is arrogant and close-minded. The second is humble and open-minded. Choose the latter. Be humble about what you know, but confident about what you can learn.


The mind that asks a lot of questions is self-correcting.


The fact that you go to the gym even though you don’t “need” to... is why you don’t need to. The fact that you save when you could spend... is why you have money to spend. Your habits create your strength.


Never be so busy comparing what you have that you forget how fortunate you are to have it.


There are two ways to live a longer life: 1) Biologically. Extend the timeline between your birth and your death. 2) Psychologically. Fit more lives into whatever time you are given. Make each decade a rich life and you can live a handful of them before you are done.


Life gets easier when you don’t blame other people and focus on what you can control.


Someone once suggested that I occasionally ask myself, “What am I really trying to achieve here?” Whenever I remember to do it, I find the question generates useful answers.


Creative ideas happen when you stop thinking about what others will think.


Work hard. If results depend on effort, then you will carry yourself far. If results depend on effort and luck, then you will be focused on the area you can influence. If results depend on luck alone, then the outcome is random, but you will have won the battle with yourself.


The stronger your current beliefs, the weaker your future insights. The hand that clings to an old friend cannot embrace a new one.


The more time you spend complaining about what you deserve, the less time you have to focus on what you can earn. Focus on what you can control.


Observe the world as it is—do not demand it to be a certain way—and you will have a chance of seeing the truth.


To achieve success, you must be willing to take risks. To take risks, you must be willing to be vulnerable. Therefore: To achieve success, you must be willing to be vulnerable.


If you do not like your results in a particular area it is rarely your intellect that deserves the blame, but rather where you have directed your intellect. Results are purchased by how you spend your attention.


Think of yourself as a collection of parts. Some parts seek status. Some seek meaning. Some parts are selfish. Some are generous. Feed the good parts. Starve the bad parts.


The loudest critic is internal.


When a situation is within your control, take action. When a situation is outside your control, make preparations.


Self-talk strategies: If you need confidence, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. If you need persistence, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a student. If you need patience, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a child.


Your habits are how you embody a particular identity. “We acquire virtues by first having put them into action... We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage.” —Aristotle Act to become.


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 most creative ideas come from people who have nothing to lose. As soon as you have something to lose, you limit your ideas to those that don’t threaten what you already have. You start protecting rather than creating.


Especially in the beginning, choose the most enjoyable version of a new habit: -the type of exercise you find fun -the length of journaling you find motivating -the style of meditation you find interesting If you enjoy it the first time, you’ll want to come back next time.


Kindness is a way to avoid expensive decisions. At a deep level, many choices we make—buying nice cars, big houses, luxury clothes—are an attempt to feel good about ourselves. Being kind to others also makes you feel great... and it’s cheap. No need to pay for self-respect.


Self-interest is the underlying motive behind all human behavior. Even a seemingly selfless action like donating anonymously is in your self-interest because it reinforces your belief that you are a generous person.


Theory: Mirrors increase consciousness. The idea of “me” is strengthened when you see yourself daily (vs. the random glance in a pond). You become more self-aware of your existence, your features, your uniqueness. The loop of consciousness (“knowing that you know”) is tighter.


From Chapter 2 of Atomic Habits: "True behavior change is identity change. When your behavior and your identity are fully aligned, you are no longer pursuing change. You are simply acting like the type of person you already believe yourself to be."


We all experience failure. Mentally tough people realize failure is just an event, not an indication of their identity and self-worth.


The biggest difference between deliberate practice and simple repetition? Feedback. Measurement raises awareness and accelerates learning.


The best advice in the world is useless without a willingness to self-experiment.


Margin of Safety is one of the most practical mental models for daily life. It shows up everywhere: -how much cash I keep in my emergency fund -how low I let my laptop battery get before recharging -how much time I leave to get to the airport

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