Applying "Atomic Habits" to content creation
How the book's principles helped my content creation career
I am not a big fan of self help books
I used to find them cheesy full of feel-good statements like “believe in yourself” and “you are the master of your destiny” etc. which made me roll my eyes
Which is why you can imagine my skepticism when a friend recommended the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear to me
Out of politeness I accepted, began reading it and .. WOW
It turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read and I was blown away by the insightful and practical tips it contains
The depth to which the author — James Clear — has studied human habits and their impact on our lives is simply amazing.
The best thing about this book is how practical it is and how you can apply these principles to pretty much any field you are passionate about
For me it was content creation and I saw an almost immediate benefit which I wanted to share
Firstly .. WHAT is an “Atomic Habit” ?
James Clear defines atomic habits as
“An atomic habit is a regular process or routine that is not only small and easy to do but also a part of the system of compound growth which can lead to incredible changes over time” — James Clear
Simply put atomic habits are small habits that compound over time
These habits can be good or bad and while they seem insignificant; their effects can build up over a lifetime and be the difference between who you are and who you can be
The book states that instead of going for a big-bang , radical change approach where you turn your life upside down; focus on getting better 1% every day.
If you focus on getting 1% everyday then you will be 37% better than by the end of the year
Below are some of the key takeaways I got from this book and which I applied to my own content creation side-hustle
Takeaway #1 : The ice cube analogy
I have been trying to get serious about content creation for years now and it has been a roller coaster journey with some highs and a LOT of lows.
It can get very frustrating not seeing any engagement after you put in hours making a Youtube video or a digital course
I often found myself questioning if content creation which I am so passionate about was the right path for me and if i had not wasted all those hours and effort
This is why the ice cube analogy in the book really resonated with me
The book simply states that if you are in a cold room with an ice cube and the room slowly starts getting warmer then you will not see any change from 25 degrees to 31 degrees .. but suddenly at 32 degrees the ice cube will start to melt
“Complaining about not achieving success despite working hard is a bit like complaining about an ice cube not melting when you heated it from 25 to 31 degrees. Your work was not wasted;it is just being stored .. All the action happens at 32 degrees” — James Clear
This simple analogy gave me a huge boost when I realized that all my previous efforts had not been wasted. They were compounding over time and even the worst made content had helped me improve as a creator over time
Now I approach every new content with enthusiasm knowing that even if not a single person reads or watches it; the effort of creating it has not been wasted and will pay off over time
Takeaway #2: Systems not goals
I started this year the with a goal of making around USD 5K in passive income and needless to say I was unable to make it
I was also frustrated with my Youtube channel being stuck at 600 subs and not reaching that 1K goal.
Both of them seemed like reasonable goals and failure to reach them was a bit of blow to my ego.
It also made me question the entire point of pursuing a side hustle if the first goals I set ended up in failure
This is where the second wisdom of the book really hit home for me.
Simply put the book states that you should forget goals and instead focus on systems. Winners and losers both have the same goals but it is the system that differentiates them. Simply put you do not rise to the level of your goals .. you fail to the level of your systems.
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead” — James Clear
I had a light bulb moment that even if I HAD reached my goals it would have been a temporary victory and then I would have had to set new goals.
I would be constantly putting off satisfaction until the next goal was achieved.
Applying the principle of focusing on the system; I can forget about reaching a particular amount or a subscriber count; I can instead focus on improving my content creation process.
The revenue figure and subscriber count will take care of itself over time
Takeaway #3: Identity change is a game-changer
If you were to ask me before I read this book about what I do .. I would have answered that I was a cyber security professional who does content creation as a hobby
I never thought of myself as a content creator nor referred to myself as one
I had decided that once I had published a few books and reached around 5K subs on my channel then that was the moment I could start calling myself a content creator
My identity still revolved around my 9–5 job
“There are three levels of behavior change — Identity, processes and outcome
Instead of focusing on the outcome ( what you want to achieve ).. focus on the identity ( what you want to become )
Identity change is the most powerful and is the north star of habit change” — James Clear
This was another eureka moment me and upon reading this I decided I was no longer someone doing content creation on the side .. My identity was that I WAS a content creator
I made a point of updating my LinkedIn , Youtube and bio to reflect this fact going forward.
It is amazing how big of a change this mindset can have on your processes as you actually start thinking like a content creator in your decisions.
So in conclusion, I have not yet even finished the book but have gleaned some much good info that it is ridiculous
It really is a must read for anyone who wants to improve their habits with solid practical steps
I plan to write more on what other habits I adopted into content creation once I finish the book but I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are struggling in your side-hustle