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3 Pieces of Life Advice from a Book Everyone Should Read

If you are anything like me, you need a major life change and a spark to start it. Everything seems to be crashing and you don’t know how to fix it, but need some life changing advice to get you excited. If this is you, you’re in luck! I have the perfect book for you. Don't walk, run to your nearest bookstore (or Amazon) and get the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I promise you won’t regret it. When I first got the book, I was slightly worried that it would be too "scienc-y" and that it would bore me, but it was the opposite. Everything was understandable and easy to read. If I had the time to read it in one sitting I probably could have done it. Highly recommend. Anyways, enough of the boring stuff, let’s get into the advice!

Start small

If you just read that and rolled your eyes, trust me when I say I understand. When I read it, I inwardly groaned and pouted. No one likes to start small because doing that means it will take longer to get to the finish line of our goals. However, Clear's reasoning made a lot of sense. If you make a huge life-changing plan to reach your goal and mess it up, all hope feels lost and you are discouraged and unmotivated. If you do something small everyday you are more likely to do that small thing successfully and gradually build your confidence up. As you get more and more comfortable, within a few months the successful results will start to seem noticeable, even if they don’t the first time. Habits take time to be formed, but they are what helps get us to our goals, so start small. One example Clear uses is when he talks about wanting to go to the gym everyday. If you start going for five minutes a day, and increase the increment of time as you feel needed, eventually you will have formed the habit of going to the gym everyday. As crazy and useless as it seems to only go for five minutes, it’s better than not making the effort to go at all.

Live life as if you are the person you wish to be

Let’s face it, probably have goals and high expectations for yourself. Maybe you want to lose weight, get better grades, or study more. When trying to do these things, don’t say “when I become…” Become that person right now. Clear uses fitness a lot when explaining this, so I will use a summative version of his example. Let’s say your goal is to lose weight and become healthy and fit. Think to yourself what a healthy and fit person would do. When offered a cookie or an apple, what would they choose? An apple. At the end of the day, you can choose what you want, but choosing the cookie over the apple isn’t going to help you get to your goal. 

Habits are only where you start

This goes back to the first tip where I said that you can gradually increase the length of time you do an activity. Essentially, once formed, habits are the easy part. You enter the gym, read one page of a book, or make your bed everyday. Those are the habits, but you can’t stay within the small efforts forever. They are great to start with, but more needs to be done to finish and achieve your goals. Let’s use the example of reading one page of a book a day. Maybe you want to read more so you start by reading one page a day before bed. Slowly start to increase the length of reading. Go from one page a night to a half hour of reading at night, then maybe an hour of reading before bed.

Overall, becoming the person you want to be to better yourself will involve getting uncomfortable. Also, you might have to make choices you never made before. It’s an adjustment that takes time. Obviously I couldn’t go into full details about these topics and there are many more in the book. I highly recommend everyone read it, I haven’t felt as inspired as that book made me in a while. I feel like it truly changed my life for the better. Once again the book is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy &proven way to build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Penguin Publishing Group. 

Arianna is currently a second year student at Penn State University from Massachusetts. In her free time she likes to listen to music, read, and watch the same three shows over and over again.
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