From James Clear’s Newsletter

“The most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web.”

3-2-1: Time assets vs. Time debts, slow change, and the importance of failure

read on | April 27, 2023

Happy 3-2-1 Thursday!

Quick note: graduation is coming up for many students. If you’d like to get them a gift as they head into their next chapter, then consider grabbing a copy of Atomic Habits or a set of habit tracker cards. Wherever they are headed, good habits will help them.

Now, on to the main event. Here are 3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week.

3 Ideas From Me


Something I heard recently and I’ve tried to adopt whenever possible:

“Whoever has the most fun, wins.”

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“Water never complains, but always pushes back. Always.

Drop a boulder in front of a stream and the water will simply flow around it, taking whatever opening the landscape will give or—when nothing is offered—patiently building up its resources until it rises to a height where a new gap is found.

Flow like water. Never complain, but always push back.”


“Time assets vs. Time debts.

Time assets are choices that save you time in the future. Think: saying no to a meeting, automating a task, working on something that persists and compounds.

Time debts are choices that must be repaid and cost you time in the future. Think: saying yes to a meeting, doing sloppy work that will need to be revised, etc.

Time assets are an investment. Time debts are an expense.”

2 Quotes From Others


Actress Elizabeth Bibesco on the importance of failure:

“We learn nothing by being right.”

Source: Haven: Short Stories, Poems and Aphorisms


Author and recovering alcoholic Sarah Hepola on slow change:

“Change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape.”

Source: My relapse years

1 Question For You

Apply the Pareto Principle to your relationships. Who are the few people that deliver the majority of happiness in your life? Can you schedule time with one of them today?

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Until next week,

James ClearAuthor of Atomic Habits and keynote speaker​

p.s. Dads vs. Uncles.


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