VIA Newsletter: 3-2-1 Thursday by James Clear

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

3-2-1: Working harder vs. smarter, and focusing on what matters

read on JAMESCLEAR.COM | AUGUST 12, 2021

Happy 3-2-1 Thursday,

Here are 3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week…

3 Ideas From Me


“If you want a significant change in your results, then you probably need a significant change to your strategy. Working harder on your current strategy is unlikely to move the needle.

Before you work harder, work on the right thing.

Play better games. Win better prizes.”


“The things you take pride in are the same things you are likely to be biased about.

How might the things you take pride in be misleading you?

The tighter you cling to your current identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it.”

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“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.

Trust yourself.

Enjoy the outcomes.


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2 Quotes From Others


Let me paraphrase economist Donald Kaberuka on focusing on what matters:

“I’m not interested in whether the glass is half empty or half full. I’m interested in figuring out how to fill the glass.”

Source: Donald Kaberuka: The cautious optimist


Sociologist, historian, and activist W. E. B. Du Bois with some life advice in a letter to his daughter:

“The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world.

Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bedroom. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not.

Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.”

Source: The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois

1 Question For You

What do I have planned for today that energizes me?

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3-2-1: Working harder vs. smarter, and focusing on what matters

Until next week,

James Clear
Author of the multi-million-copy bestseller, Atomic Habits
Creator of the 
Habit Journal