Thrive Global Fireside//

Thrive Fireside Chat: Entrepreneur James Clear on How to Build Habits That Stick

The author of Atomic Habits sits down with Arianna Huffington to discuss the art of habit stacking, and the importance of starting small.

On a recent afternoon, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, a bestselling book about behavior change, sat down with Arianna Huffington in Thrive Global’s New York office for a fireside chat. Clear talks about self-improvement in a way that is immediately actionable: His advice is simple, practical, and instills a sense of calm. The audience took notes feverishly, nodded along, and even recorded bits of the conversation to watch again in moments of insecurity (or maybe that was only me). 

Later that night, I posted to my Instagram some of my favorite of Clear’s soundbites from the conversation (like “You don’t rise to the occasion of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”), and thought about why his comments felt so contagious, and why I was still thinking about his words hours later. It’s partially because he offers something we all hunger for: a sustainable way to achieve our ambitions. His theories around building habits mirror what we at Thrive call Microsteps, which are the small, yet meaningful actions that help you fulfill a goal, a science-backed change to your life that is too small to fail.

He illustrated the power of Microsteps with a story about a guy named Mitch, one of Clear’s readers. Mitch wanted to lose weight, and knew that to do so, he’d need to build a habit around exercising. So for the first six weeks of his weight-loss journey, he’d get in the car, drive to the gym, and spend only five minutes inside. Five minutes! Some people in the audience laughed at this part of the story, because five minutes at the gym sounds somewhat ridiculous. But in response to our amusement, Clear said, “It sounds silly. But what you realize is that he was mastering the art of showing up. He was becoming the type of person that went to the gym four days a week, even if it was only for five minutes.” Mitch ultimately lost 100 pounds. 

“We’re so focused on optimizing that we don’t give ourselves permission to show up, even if it’s just in a small way,” Clear continued. “But if you can’t become the type of person who goes to the gym for five minutes, four days a week, you have no raw material to work with. There’s nothing to optimize.” 

For more inspiration and practical advice from the fireside, watch the full video.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. 

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Nakhorn Yuangkratoke / EyeEm / Getty Images

    I’m Borrowing a Simple Strategy from a Productivity Expert to Be Healthier in 2019

    by Shana Lebowitz
    Rafel Rossell Comas / EyeEm / Getty Images

    3 Simple But Highly Effective Habit-Building Strategies That Will Help You Reach Your Goals

    by Robert Glazer
    John Kuczala/Getty Images

    The Biggest Threat to Success Isn’t Failure — It’s Something Much Harder to Beat

    by Shana Lebowitz

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.