Ever wondered why habits exist?
How about, what triggers these routines?
Or, how can we develop new habits and reshape bad ones?
If you answered yes, then the best-selling book by Pulitzer prize winner Charles Duhigg The Power of Habit is for you.
Here are my 3 Takeaways:
1. REPETITION AND AUTOMATION
If you pause and examine all your actions in a day, you'll find that remarkably most of what you do are results of months or years of repetition. As humans, we don't think about these habits anymore because we've done them so many times.
Remember the first time you tied your shoelaces? Rode a bike? Drove your car out of the driveway?
At first, it might have taken a few minutes (or a few days for some activities) but now, you don't even think about it. That's because they've become automated or habitual and our brains are pretty awesome like that.
But wait, does this mean we're doomed to repeat the same actions forever? How can we reinforce the good habits and reshape the bad ones? Read on.
2. THE HABIT LOOP
Duhigg says a habit consists of three steps: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
The cue can be anything from your emotional state to even the time of day—anything that triggers your habit.
The routine is the habit itself, whether it's beneficial like regular exercise or detrimental like smoking.
The reward is whatever convinces your mind to remember the previous steps as part of a habit worth keeping. For example:
Feeling stressed? Maybe you instinctively reach for chocolate cake. Afterwards, dopamine is released and you feel calm or de-stressed.
The cue here is feeling stressed. The routine is eating the cake and the reward is the calm feeling.
In order to change a habit, you'll need to recognize the old cue and keep the reward, but insert a new routine.
Taking the example above, if you want to change your habit of eating cake when you're stressed, notice the cue, and change the routine. Perhaps try meditation or exercise instead.
3. KEYSTONE HABITS
The author discovered that there are certain habits so influential that developing them will scientifically affect other areas of your life. These keystone habits create a ripple effect that enables you to gain confidence, improve productivity, and develop discipline.
Some examples are regular exercise, meditation, keeping a food journal, developing a morning routine, and planning your day.
FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY
It's worth noting that the author's findings stated in the book are to be used as a framework, and not as a one-step solution.
Since each person has their own cues, routines, and rewards, you'll have to experiment and find out what works for you.
He adds, "Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them."
Want a tangible way to develop and change your habits?
Think about it, top Olympic athletes train and work hard every single day for so many years. They don't hope to win the gold medal with a one-day practice session. Instead, they are disciplined and have good habits that will enable them to perform their best during competition.
If we are ever to attempt at excellence like them, whether in sports, business, or even blogging, we should identify then develop the habits we wish to keep and work on replacing the others.
QUOTES ON HABITS
These leaders have recognized the importance of habits too:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle
Successful people are simply those with successful habits. -Brian Tracy
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Rohn
Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. -Benjamin Franklin
It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. -Tony Robbins
Share in the comments below: What habits are you looking to develop? Which habits do you want to re-shape? What actions have you taken so far?
Since one of the best ways to improve ourselves is to commit to continuous learning, this post is part of the blog mini-series called 3 Takeaways where I discuss three insights from thought-provoking leaders, books, and podcasts.
My purpose initially was to simply read more books, but the learnings were too valuable to keep to myself. My goal has since been to share the vital lessons that will help you be productive and free.
Grab your copy of The Power of Habit from Amazon.com* (affiliate link)