The Power of Habit

Spoiler-Free Overview 

Photo by My Life Journal on Unsplash

In The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, we’re shown an interesting new perspective on habit creation. Duhigg argues that the power to change your habits and to construct your idea life comes when we understand the hidden mechanisms underlying habitual action.

I found this book helpful in understanding the triggers for action and the phycology behind our subliminal choices. However, I wish this book focused more on the actionable steps for habit change instead of overexplaining the same concept through a series of anecdotal case studies.

It’s a quick read with good insights. So, if you are a personal development nerd you may want to take a peek. The psychology behind habit change was interesting to learn, but I found the systems explained in Atomic Habits by James Clear a lot easier to incorporate into my life than constructing habit loops.

Below are my main take-always from the book (spoilers included). 

The Habit Loop

In the introductory chapters, Duhigg outlines the components of a habit loop and challenges the reader to see the components of habitual action in their daily life. He claims that the core components of habitual cation are “cue”, “routine”, and “reward”. A  habit does not begin without a cue. We are shown a variety of different case studies that break down the components of the habit loop so we may better understand how our subconscious affects our day-day actions. 

“subconscious mechanisms that impact the countless choices that seem as if they’re the products of well-reasoned thought, but actually are influenced by urges most of us barely recognize or understand…But because we often don’t recognize these habit loops as they grow, we are blind to our ability to control them”

Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit 

When I’m driving to work, or brushing my teeth my mind appears to be on autopilot. We can go through the motions of our habits without consciously choosing to do so but understanding why we find ourselves again in the middle of a habit loop can empower us to create change. 

The Power of Craving 

After deconstructing the habit loop, Duhigg explains that “craving” is the energy that powers the loop of habitual action.

“…craving, it turns out, is what makes cues and rewards work. That craving is what powers the habit loop.”

Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit 

This resonated with me. Have you ever tried to cut something out of your life and felt dissatisfied with its absence or a knock-off? The author explains that we are often left dissatisfied when replace a bad habit with constructive action because we only replaced the action and not the craving that leads to action. 

The Willpower Muscle 

Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.”

Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit 

Willpower isn’t consistent throughout the day. When you are aware of your willpower patterns it’s easier to construct an environment that strengthens your willpower when it’s most vulnerable. Most of us gradually deplete our willpower as the day unfolds. Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time recommends that you begin your day with those tasks which you are least enthused to do. As the day goes on you can reach for more menial tasks that require less force of will to complete. 

Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Check out my Goodreads account for my star review and other books I’m reading now.

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