The Power Of Habit


Charles Duhigg

A few years have passed since I read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.  I purchased this book as a result of a co-worker’s suggestion.  I had just begun my health transformation.  I had joined Weight Watchers, was careful with what and how much I ate, and I was exercising more.  I was achieving success, but I wanted to make sure that the changes I was making would stay with me for a lifetime. 

Duhigg’s theory is simple: have a cue for the activity or task you want to accomplish, set a routine and give yourself a reward.  We all need help in forming habits from time to time and for some people this approach will be helpful.  I tried the process for exercising by putting my clothing and shoes next to my bed.  While I only lasted a few days with that cue, I did go on to form a habit and I exercise first thing in the morning almost every day.  In my case, I skipped the cue (or maybe in my mind I substituted the sound of the alarm clock for my cue), went directly to the routine and it worked.  I applied the same logic for eating out.  I used to get to the restaurant, review the menu and then make bad decisions.  Now, when I receive the request (cue) I usually visit the restaurant’s website, review the menu and decide what I will order before I get to the restaurant (routine).  My reward in both these cases is improved health and that is enough for me.

What is powerful about adopting habits is that they remove in-the-moment decision-making which is important for someone like me who makes a bad food decision when I am within 10 feet of a chocolate chip cookie.  I gained this understanding of habits from the book and that is what I found most powerful.

Some people like the book and others don’t, citing his writing as painfully basic and his theories as ineffective.  Like any suggestions for improvement, some things work for us while others don’t.  I find that even if I can get at least one nugget from a book, it was worth the time.  I reaped enough rewards from reading this book that I would suggest that The Power of Habit is worth reading if you want to make some serious changes in your life.