Hello everyone and welcome to my another book review series. What I want to talk about today is the book titled” The Power of Habit” why we do what we do and how to change it, by Charles Duhigg.
This is actually one of those books that has influenced my life massively and helped me to become the person I am today. So I wanted to share with you some of the most important things that I’ve learned from this book.
What is Habit?
So first lets start with how habits are created. Habits are part of our brains activity to help sustain the energy and efficiency of our daily activities because when habits are acquired a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking a routine task. The process by which certain behaviours become automatic is what we call habit formation.
Now we can roughly divide habits into two types. Good habits and Bad habits. Some habits can help us enjoy a more productive life such as reading a book a day, waking up early and going to the gym while others may destroy our lives by damaging our productivity and performance such as smoking, consuming fast food, alcohol addiction and constant procrastination.
Three primary factors are the reason for the Habit creation, what Duhigg calls the Habit Loop. They are the Cue, The Routine and the Reward. The cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go to automatic mode in which habit to deploys. Next is the routine, which can be physical, or mental or emotional. Lastly is reward, which helps your brain to figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Overtime as this habit loop cue routine reward becomes more automatic and the connection between cue and the reward creates a strong sense of anticipation, which is called craving.
Eventually a habit comes force and your brain stops working so hard. Craving feeds the habit loop. Habits create neurological cravings as we associate cues for rewards as subconscious craving emerges that starts the loop. Craving follows a two-step process. One, the brain identifies the simple and obvious cue and two the brain anticipates to find rewards. The habit emerges when you see the cue as craving emerges instantaneously. Once the craving exists you will act automatically whether good habits or bad habits. The neurological process is the same. That’s why breaking bad habits is difficult.
For example if you want to develop the habit of exercising in the morning. It is a good idea to have your exercise shoes near your bed that wherever you are going to see them right when you get up and put them on and let that cue trigger the routine of you go out the door and experience the reward of the endorphins or the feeling of energized, celebrate that reward maybe give you a healthy treat to bootstrap your brain that these rewards are real, the rewards that you genuinely enjoy.
So fro me personally, when I get up in the morning I meditate I do my morning routine and then I’ve got the most important thing that I have to do on that particular time right there on my desk. It is the only thing on my desk. That’s a cue for me. That cue is planned the night before so that the exposure to that cue may trigger the emotion of taking action towards that particular goal.
How to change bad Habits
The main thing I got from the whole book was that if you are aware of the cue and reward and you just change the routine, then you are more likely to create new habits and change your old habits.
In order to change the old habit, you have to notice what cues you have that trigger the particular negative habit and try to avoid it. Or another effective way of getting rid of bad habits is by simply changing or replacing the routine while keeping the cue and reward the same, with a new one for a period of time just enough to associate that cue and reward with the new habit that will help to make your life better.
Now in order to effectively change the old bad habits our brains require a belief that they can make it. The replacement habits only become durable new behaviours by something else, something powerful such as groups and shared experiences. A community creates belief. Effective change happens when people come together to help one another change. For habit to change people must belief it will change for that help people must believe change is possible and that helps with the help of groups.
Duhigg explains in his books how major companies such as Mc Donald’s, Procter and Gamble Starbucks and many others used habit creation into their advantage in order to effectively market their products and secure their top place in the highly competitive market. So those of you who are interested in marketing or thinking of creating your own company make sure you find this book and read it because it should be very useful for you.
The successful companies apply the keystone habit principle. For instance morning accountability check inns to ensure your team members have what they need to overcome obstacles. That keystone habit and regular conversation become embedded to your organisational culture. This principle can be applied as to the companies and to the individuals as well. The research has shown simply by initiating an exercise routine people eating better, resting better, taking better care of themselves simply by initiating an exercise routine. In the morning if you wake up and eat healthy you will be more likely to eat healthy through the day.
Willpower is identified in studies as single most important factor in success. The best way to strengthen the willpower is to make a habit of it. Willpower is both a learnable skill and a muscle. It gets tired as it works harder so there is less power left over for other things. That’s why productivity experts recommend tackling the hardest tasks or the most creative ones first each day if you can or tidiest routine tasks can follow.
According to the research’s willpower has the single biggest correlate with success. Willpower out predicts almost everything for what ever it is you wanna achieve in your life. The fact that will power out predicts IQ by a factor of two for academic performance. You can take two kids with one higher level of IQ and another higher willpower and try to predict who’s academic performance is going to be higher, then the one with higher or stronger willpower will be twice more likely to achieve better results in their academic performance. Therefore If you want to succeed in the so called long run you should work on and cultivate your willpower as well.
So make sure you follow those three steps of building new habits by controlling the cue, routine and ritual or by slightly changing the ritual while keeping the cue and reward the same if you want to replace your old bad habit into a new one. Don’t forget about identifying your keystone habit, which is the essential catalyst of your positive habits and successful performance, which we mentioned in this case as exercising or going to the gym as you call it. And lastly make sure you practise and strengthening your willpower by constantly working on improving yourself and creating a better version of yourself.