James Clear Quotes
Who is James Clear?
Books by James Clear
Best Quotes by James Clear
“How much could I lose?" is not merely a financial question.
If I make this choice:
- How much time could I lose?
- How much sanity could I lose?
- How much reputation could I lose?
- How much happiness could I lose?
Opportunity cost is about a lot more than money.”
“A beginner’s mind + an expert’s grind.
“A behavior has become a habit when you notice not doing it.”
“A good player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that favors their strengths and avoids their weaknesses.”
“A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly—and, in many cases, automatically.”
“A lack of self-awareness is poison. Reflection and review is the antidote.”
“A simple question that often changes my behavior:
Does the amount of attention I’m giving this match its importance?”
“A simple strategy that will save you so many headaches: don't care about winning trivial arguments.
Someone says something you don't agree with? Smile, nod, and move on to more important things.
Life is short. Not caring about having the last word will save you so much time.”
“A simple way to ensure you are focused on what matters:
Imagine everything gets wiped. You inherit no tasks or responsibilities from your past or present. Then, add back only what you miss.
Choose what to add to a blank slate, not what to keep from a full plate.”
“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.”
“Abilities that lead to intelligence:
1. The curiosity to experiment and explore.
2. The honesty to observe the world as it is, not as you wish it to be.
3. The humility to kill your favorite ideas when you learn something new.
4. The consistency to repeat this cycle for life.”
“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.”
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
“All learning is dependent on feedback.
The faster the feedback, the faster you can learn.
Thus, in many domains, the individual, team, or organization with the fastest feedback cycle is the one that wins.”
“Always be prepared to absorb a big hit.
Always be focused enough to create a big win.
Diversified enough to survive, concentrated enough to matter.”
“Artists learn the rules, then transcend them.”
“Asymmetric advice: Advice from someone who can’t use it.
- A rich person saying “Money isn’t everything.”
- A fit person saying “Beauty is on the inside.”
- A powerful person saying “Stop caring what others think of you.”
It’s easy to give advice when you don’t face the downside.”
“Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth.”
Mistakes of ambition:
-failing on a big goal
-creating something nobody wants
Mistakes of sloth:
-not attempting a big goal
-consuming instead of creating
Mistakes of ambition teach. Mistakes of sloth comfort.”
“Be forgiving with your past self.
Be strict with your present self.
Be flexible with your future self.”
“Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”
“Becoming the type of person you want to become — someone who lives by a stronger standard, someone who believes in themselves, someone who can be counted on by the people that matter to them — is about the daily process you follow and not the ultimate product you achieve.”
“Before we can effectively build new habits, we need to get a handle on our current ones.”
“Being specific about what you want and how you will achieve it helps you say no to things that derail progress, distract your attention, and pull you off course.”
“Being yourself is a continuous effort.
There is always another expectation placed upon you, another person pulling you toward their preferences, another nudge from society to act a certain way.
It's a daily battle to be yourself, not merely what the world wants you to be.”
“Challenge yourself when life is easy, so you can handle it when life gets hard.”
“Concentration produces wealth.
Diversification protects wealth.”
“Cooking one healthy meal isn’t enough to get fit.
Writing one sentence isn’t enough to finish your novel.
Reading one page isn’t enough to make you smart.
Asking one person out might not be enough to find love.
... but it’s a good start.”
“Criticizing a musician is easy, but it is more difficult when you have a guitar in your hand.”
“Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins.”
“Different meanings can be assigned to the same events.
Look for evidence of how the world is encouraging you, and you will find it.
Look for evidence of how the world is burdening you, and you will find it.
Choose an explanation that empowers you.”
“Do less. Stop dividing your attention.”
“Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be? Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity?
Habits that reinforce your desired identity are usually good. Habits that conflict with your desired identity are usually bad.”
“Don’t feel qualified? Nobody does.
You can only be qualified to do that which you have already accomplished or trained for.
Anything new is accomplished by unqualified people.”
“Don’t put in average effort and claim that you want exceptional results.”
“Don’t spend what you haven’t earned.
Avoid financial debt. Don’t spend money you haven’t earned.
Avoid social debt. Don’t spend goodwill you haven’t earned.
Avoid calendar debt. Don’t spend (free) time you haven’t earned.
The disciplined earner can be a guilt-free spender.”
“Entrepreneurship is the most accelerated school you can attend. You’ll never learn faster than when you have to learn fast to survive.”
“European cities are built for people. American cities are built for cars.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
“Everything is an oversimplification. Reality is messy and complex.
The question is whether it is a useful simplification.
Know the limitations of an idea and you can apply it to great effect—despite the messiness of reality.”
“For 99% of entrepreneurs, I think a good filter for business ideas is:
1) Is someone already doing this?
2) Only do it if the answer is yes.
So much time is wasted building "something new" in markets that don't exist. Instead, find new ways to serve old markets.”
“Freedom is the power to say no.”
“Genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity.”
“Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.”
“Getting exceptional outcomes in life is often about knowing when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
When to rest v. when to train hard.
When to save v. when to invest.
When to talk v. when to listen.
When to act v. when to wait.
It’s not the act, but the timing of the act.”
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.”
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”
“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”
“Goals create an 'either-or' conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a disappointment. You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness. This is misguided. It is unlikely that your actual path through life will match the exact journey you had in mind when you set out. It makes no sense to restrict your satisfaction to one scenario when there are many paths to success.”
“Good habits can make rational sense, but if they conflict with your identity, you will fail to put them into action.”
“Gratitude is what you feel when you want what you already have.”
“Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement.”
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
“Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks.”
“Habits that have a high rate of return in life:
- sleep 8+ hours each day
- lift weights 3x week
- go for a walk each day
- save at least 10 percent of your income
- read every day
- drink more water and less of everything else
- leave your phone in another room while you work”
“Happiness is the absence of desire. It’s what you feel when you no longer want to change your state.”
“Having good health isn’t everything, but not having it is.
Having money isn’t everything, but not having it is.
You don’t need 6-pack abs or a million dollars to be happy, but do yourself a favor and learn the fundamentals of fitness and finance.
They bring a margin of safety.”
“How to Be Unhappy:
-stay inside all day
-move as little as possible
-spend more than you earn
-take yourself (and life) too seriously
-look for reasons why things won’t work
-always consume, never contribute
-resent the lucky and successful
-never say hello first
“How to look like a genius:
1. Read and think about a topic for a few years.
2. Record any idea you have along the way—most will be bad or average.
3. Revisit your ideas. Remove anything that isn't exceptional.
4. Polish and share the best stuff.
5. End up looking like a genius.”
“I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I don’t feel like training and tell myself, “I’ll just do one set and see how I feel.”
You would think it would stop working at some point, but I almost always end up doing the whole workout.
Just start. Do something and see what happens.”
“I’m increasingly convinced the important question to ask is not, “What is true?”
But rather, “When is this true?”
“I’ve had no meetings or calls all week.
It’s been my favorite work week of the year.”
“If a decision is reversible, the biggest risk is moving too slow.
If a decision is irreversible, the biggest risk is moving too fast.”
“If you added up all the time wasted searching for shortcuts and trying to cheat the process, the hard work could have already been done by now.”
“If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still succeed?”
“If you have good habits, time becomes your ally.
All you need is patience.”
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
“Improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”
“In fact, the tendency for one purchase to lead to another one has a name: the Diderot Effect. The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption.”
“In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.”
“In the long-run, your willpower will never beat your environment.”
“Innovation requires optimism.”
“It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action.”
“It is in your self-interest to be interested in others.”
“It’s crazy how 1,000 people can compliment you and you’ll spend all day thinking about the one person who criticized you.”
“It’s only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity.”
“Know what you want.
Follow a trajectory where what you want is a possible outcome.
Build a system to incrementally improve your ability to follow that trajectory.
Enjoy the outcomes.
“Many actions are less about the action itself and more about the signal it sends to others.
It’s not about the clothes. It’s about seeming sexy or powerful.
It’s not about the words. It’s about seeming smart or kind.
To understand people ask, “What are they trying to signal?”
“Mastery is the process of continuing to solve the same problem in new ways rather than stopping at an acceptable solution.”
“Most goals are borrowed.
Borrowed from friends and family.
Borrowed from coworkers and peers.
Borrowed from society.”
“Most people need consistency more than they need intensity.
-run a marathon
-write a book in 30 days
-silent meditation retreat
-don't miss a workout for 2 years
-write every week
Intensity makes a good story. Consistency makes progress.”
“Most topics are not worth having an opinion about.”
“My dad just told me he starts each morning by reminding himself of three things:
1) I am free.
2) I don't have to do anything.
3) I have time and space.
I thought it was brilliant. We all have responsibilities, but entering the day in this way reduces stress and overwhelm.”
“Never miss twice. If you miss one day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible.”
“New goals don't deliver new results. New lifestyles do.
And a lifestyle is a process, not an outcome.
For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results.”
“Not being busy is a competitive advantage.
Most people are so strapped for time they can't take advantage of lucky opportunities or quickly resolve unexpected problems.
The ideal combination is proactive and flexible. Protect your free time, but maintain a bias toward action.”
“Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Find a way to get started in less than two minutes.”
“One mode of failure is continually overlooking simple ideas while searching for a better way.
One mode of success is continually practicing simple ideas while searching for a better way.”
“One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.”
“One of the greatest forms of freedom comes from knowing what is important to you. It grants you the freedom to ignore everything else.”
“One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.”
“Optimists win in the long-run because their miscalculation of how long it will take or how likely it is to succeed motivates them to give it a try.
If you knew how hard it would be and how long it would take in the beginning then you might not try in the first place.”
“Over the long run, however, the real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way. This is why you can't get too attached to one version of your identity. Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.”
“Prediction depends on events outside your control.
Creation depends on events within your control.
Don’t guess about the future. Shape it.”
“Problem #1: Winners and losers have the same goals.”
“Professionals stick to the schedule;
amateurs let life get in the way.”
“Progress requires unlearing.”
“Pros are just amateurs who learned from their mistakes.”
“Real wealth is not about money.
Real wealth is:
- not having to go to meetings
- not having to spend time with jerks
- not being locked into status games
- not feeling like you have to say “yes”
- not worrying about others claiming your time and energy
Real wealth is about freedom.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.”
“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.”
“Showing up and working hard will always be the cost of entry. But when everyone else also works hard, your strategy is what makes the difference.”
“Simple question to find work you love: What do you enjoy refining?
Many people get excited to do something once, but ultimately get bored.
It’s the areas you can’t help yourself from rethinking, revising, reorganizing, and optimizing where you have a long-term advantage.”
“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”
“Standardize before you optimize. You can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist.”
“Step 1: Life is a series of games. Carefully choose which games you want to play.
Step 2: Each game has a set of rules. Develop a deep understanding of them.
Step 3: Master a niche within the rules. Play to your strengths.
Step 4: Step outside the rules. Create your own game.”
“Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy.
Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder.
Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder.
Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder.
Easy has a cost.”
“Study as if you know nothing.
Work as if you can solve anything.”
“Systems are for people who care about winning repeatedly.
Goals are for people who care about winning once.”
“The 3-Step Cycle of Developing an Extraordinary Mind
1) Explore widely. Follow many people, listen to tons of podcasts, read more books.
2) Clean up your information feed. Subscribe to fewer newsletters, follow fewer people, re-read great books. All signal, no noise.
“The advice to “focus on the process, not the outcome” is only partially correct. Life is certainly not about any single outcome, but good processes are those that increase your winning percentage. If your outcomes aren’t improving, the process needs to change.”
“The bad days are more important than the good days.
... when you don’t feel like it, then you maintain the habit.
And if you maintain the habit, then all you need is time.”
“The best way to create wealth is to create or own assets that (1) earn money while you sleep and (2) don't require your attention while you are awake.”
“The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change:
What gets rewarded, gets repeated. What gets punished, gets avoided.
Don’t reward behavior you don’t want to see repeated.”
“The climb to the top is better than the view from the peak. It’s progress, not perfection, that we really crave.”
“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.”
“The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards.”
“The idea that "change is hard" is one of the biggest myths about human behavior.
The truth is, you change effortlessly and all the time. The primary job of the brain is to adjust your behavior based on the environment.
Design a better environment. Change will happen naturally.”
“The more comfortable I am with myself, the less I feel a need to win arguments with other people.”
“The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future.”
“The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it. If you’re proud of how your hair looks, you’ll develop all sorts of habits to care for and maintain it. If you’re proud of the size of your biceps, you’ll make sure you never skip an upper-body workout. If you’re proud of the scarves you knit, you’ll be more likely to spend hours knitting each week. Once your pride gets involved, you’ll fight tooth and nail to maintain your habits.”
“The most effective networking strategy I’ve found has nothing to do with conferences, cocktail hours, cold emails, or any of the common ideas you hear.
1) Do interesting things.
2) Share them publicly.
Like-minded people will come to you.”
“The odds of success increase if:
- you get more shots on goal
- there is more than one way success can occur
- there is a long time frame in which things can go right
- you pursue a subset of strategies where the typical performance is better than the overall average”
“The past is a poor guide to the future of technology, but a good guide to the future of human behavior.”
“The person who asks questions is more helpful than the person who offers advice.”
“The person who experiences the consequences should make the decisions.”
“The person who learns the most in any classroom is the teacher.
If you really want to learn a topic, then “teach” it.
Write a book.
Teach a class.
Build a product.
Start a company.
The act of making something will force you to learn more deeply than reading ever will.”
“The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.”
“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
“The quality of your life is a product of the habits you build and the choices you make, plus or minus the luck you encounter along the way.
You can't control luck, but you can control your habits and your choices. Direct your focus there.”
“The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop.”
“The stronger your current beliefs, the weaker your future insights.
The hand that clings to an old friend cannot embrace a new one.”
“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.”
“The tighter you cling to your current identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.”
“The two-sentence guide to wealth and weight loss:
Spend less than you earn. Eat less than you burn.”
“The ultimate list of biohacks and smart drugs:
- Drink more water
- Get 8 hours of sleep
- Walk outside in the sun
- Leave your phone on silent
- Read a few pages each day
- Eat more vegetables and greens
- Don’t hang out with toxic people
- Work on projects you care about”
“The ultimate productivity hack is saying no.”
“The willingness to do the unsexy work is a competitive advantage.”
“There is a difference between moving fast and rushing.
You can move fast and be thoughtful. When you rush, you sacrifice thoughtfulness.
Conversely, when you are thoughtful but not moving fast, you are overthinking it. Procrastination in disguise.
Don’t rush, but don’t wait.”
“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.”
“Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.”
“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.”
“True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
“Type I thoughts = ideas you have.
Type II thoughts = ideas you act upon.
Type I thoughts have never changed the world.”
“Unfinished projects can’t compound.”
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
“Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck.”
“We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits.”
“We don’t choose our earliest habits, we imitate them.”
“We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful.”
“We often avoid taking action because we think "I need to learn more," but the best way to learn is often by taking action.”
“We often dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much in the moment.”
“What are you avoiding just because you know the answer is painful?”
“What can you do with 5 good minutes?
5 good minutes of:
-pushups is a solid workout
-sprints will leave you winded
-writing can deliver 1 good page
-reading can finish an insightful article
-meditation can reset your mood
You don’t need more time—just a little focused action.”
“What is the real goal?
The real goal is not to “beat the market.” The goal is to build wealth.
The real goal is not to read more books. The goal is to understand what you read.
Don’t let a proxy become the target. Don’t optimize for the wrong outcome.”
“When choosing a new habit many people seem to ask themselves, “What can I do on my best days?”
The trick is to ask, “What can I stick to even on my worst days?”
Start small. Master the art of showing up. Scale up when you have the time, energy, and interest.”
“When feedback is immediate, clear, and concrete, people learn quickly.
When feedback is delayed, abstract, and opaque, people rarely learn.”
“When making plans, think big.
When making progress, think small.”
“When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.”
“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy.”
“When you lose track of time, you are either living your best life or wasting it.”
“Win the day and the decade falls into place.”
“With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become.”
“Years are wasted for no other reason than we tend to continue doing what we are already doing. Inertia eats opportunity.”
“You are the average of the five stories you tell yourself the most.”
“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.”
“You can say yes to everything that really matters if you are strict about saying no to everything that really doesn’t.”
“You can win a lot in life just by being the last one to give up.”
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
“You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.”
“You don’t have to build the habits everyone tells you to build. Choose the habit that best suits you, not the one that is most popular.”
“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.”
“You need focus to become exceptional at anything. You have to be great at saying no.
Massive amounts of time and energy are wasted optimizing things that should be left undone.
What problems are worth working on? What skills are worth developing? What actually matters?”
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
“You teach people how to treat you by what you let them get away with.”
“Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 1000th will be great.
Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong.
Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused.
Put in your reps.”
“Your body adapts to what you eat.
Your mind adapts to what you consume.
Your soul adapts to what you love.
What you feed yourself today is who you become tomorrow.”
“Your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results.”
“Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. You get what you repeat.”