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Habit-creation expert explains 'the single biggest mistake' people make

Marina Peña
Production assistant

Ever wonder how to create good habits? James Clear wrote a book on how to do just that.

And the crucial mistake that people make most? Aiming to big.

“Easily, the single biggest mistake is choosing the wrong habit, and really what that looks like is choosing a habit that’s too large,”  Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” told YahooFinance’s Final Round recently.

‘Master the art of showing up’

The solution to that common mistake is to start small.

“My recommendation is to adhere to what I call the two-minute rule. And the basic idea is you take whatever habit you’re trying to build, whatever result you’re trying to achieve, and you scale it down to just the first two minutes,” Clear explained. “So read 30 books a year becomes read one page. Or do yoga four days a week, becomes take out your my yoga mat.”

Olga Kavkazskaya, 79, teaches a yoga class at the Bikram Yoga centre. (Photo: Artyom Geodakyan/TASS)

Clear added that while “that sounds somewhat silly to people when they first hear it … the key factor is that a habit must be established before it can be improved. So often we’re focused on finding the perfect business idea or the best weight loss program or the ideal workout program, the perfect diet, [but] we never master the art of showing up.”

The two-minute rule works, according to Clear, because those 120 seconds is itself the practice of showing up. “Once you’re the type of person that shows up each day, you have a lot of options for improving and expanding from there.”

‘The fundamental unit in a larger system’

“Atomic Habits” is a New York Times bestseller and top 10 on Amazon. Clear explains he chose the name for his book because “an atom is the fundamental unit in a larger system. Atoms build into molecules and molecules build into compounds, and so on.”

“One of the key insights in the book is that what you’re really looking to do is not to make a single 1% change, but to layer those on top of each other, like units in a larger system,” Clear says. “And if you can do that, if you make those small easy changes and let them build, then you can end up with remarkable results in the long run.”

For Clear, building healthy habits is all about “a commitment to continuous improvement and layering those on top of each other.”

READ MORE: The top 10 skills hiring managers will want in 2020

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