James Clear

James Clear quotes on thinking

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

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Aim to be great in 10 years. Build health habits today that lead to a great body in 10 years. Build social habits today that lead to great relationships in 10 years. Build learning habits today that lead to great knowledge in 10 years. Long-term thinking is a secret weapon.


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


A strategy for thinking clearly: Rather than trying to be right, assume you are wrong and try to be less wrong. Trying to be right has a tendency to devolve into protecting your beliefs. Trying to be less wrong has a tendency to prompt more questions and intellectual humility.


Your actions are a consequence of your thoughts. Your thoughts are a consequence of what you consume. And in the modern age, what you consume is largely a consequence of how you select and refine your social media feed. Choose better inputs. Get better outputs.


Wealth is the power to choose. Financial wealth is the power to choose how to spend money. Social wealth is the power to choose who to hang out with. Calendar wealth is the power to choose how to spend your time. Mental wealth is the power to choose your thoughts.


Before you begin, think as if you are a lazy person. Assume the competition will work harder. Your only chance is a better strategy. After you begin, work as if you are a dumb person. Assume the competition is smarter and more talented. Your only chance is to outwork them.


Life is short. And if life is short, then moving quickly matters. Launch the product. Write the book. Ask the question. Take the chance. Be thoughtful, but get moving.


Ultimately, the only way to truly be in control of your life is to be in control of your thoughts.


How to see opportunities others miss: 1) Study a totally different field, then return to the original problem. Apply insights from other domains. 2) Invert the problem. Try to achieve the opposite. 3) Find ways to engage with hyper-creative people. Their thinking will rub off.


Hard work is not always something you can see. It is not always physical effort. In fact, the most powerful form of hard work is thinking clearly. Designing a winning strategy may not look very active, but make no mistake: it is very hard work. Strategy often beats sweat.


Anxiety is thought without control. Flow is control without thought.


The tension of life: Thinking only of today degrades the experience of tomorrow. Delay gratification. Thinking only of tomorrow degrades the experience of today. Don’t wait to begin living. Invest in your tomorrows and savor your todays. A delicate balance.


You know yourself mostly by your thoughts. Everyone else in the world knows you only by your actions. Remember this when you feel misunderstood. You have to do or say something for others to know how you feel.


Authenticity is the gap between your thoughts and your actions. The smaller the gap, the more genuine the lifestyle.


When failure is reversible, act quickly. When failure is irreversible, think carefully.


People often believe their opinions are well thought out when they are merely "well felt out." We easily mistake strong feelings for strong thoughts. Feelings are important, but if you can't state your opinion clearly, then you haven't thought it through yet.


It costs nothing to ask a successful person how they succeeded, but it may deliver more value than 1,000 hours of hard work. Others are under no obligation to tell you their secrets, but it is surprising how much you can learn from sincere, direct, and thoughtful questions.


Not enough is said about the power of thinking about one topic for a long period of time. If you revisit a topic continually for a few years, most problems (and many solutions) will occur to you at some point. Expertise can be the gradual accumulation of many modest insights.


When any behavior or attitude or pattern of thinking is the path of least resistance, it gets repeated. That’s true for good habits as well as bad ones. Don’t worry about motivation. Just make good habits the path of least resistance.


The result of creativity and innovation is new ideas, but the cause of creativity and innovation is more ideas. The person with a bigger intellectual toolbox has more entry points and additional lines of attack to solve problems. Read widely. Explore broadly. Then apply.


To build better skills spend less time passively learning and more time actively practicing. Stop thinking and start doing.


It's unhealthy to fill your stomach with junk food. But it's just as bad to fill your mind with junk thoughts or your life with junk people.


Beware: When a certain worldview dominates your thinking, you’ll try to explain every problem you face through that worldview. Read widely.


From Chapter 3 of Atomic Habits: “Habits do not restrict freedom. They create it. It’s only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity.”


Always question your best ideas. Great thinkers, icons, and innovators think forward and backward. They drive their brain in reverse.


If there is one "thinking tool" everyone should have in their mental toolbox it is First Principles Thinking. It is the backbone of creativity and innovation, and a surefire way to think for yourself.


You can train yourself to become smarter. One of the best ways to do that is to expand the set of mental models you use to think.

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