The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg takes a fascinating look at why people behave the way they do and how these behaviors transform into habits that control most of the perceived decisions we make on a daily basis. While analyzing ones habits can be applied to anything that you want to change, there is especially good information for people that are starting a new diet or exercise regime.
One of the main concepts of the book is what Duhigg refers to as a habit loop (which Alex has already mentioned in a previous blog). Habit loops (much like the idea of a computer program loop) stem from some cue (visual, audible, etc) that triggers our brains to perform some type of routine (smoke cigarette, eat cake) that produces a reward (nicotine, sugar). These habits run deep and even after we have broken a bad habit, years later a cue can still trigger a desire to perform these old tasks.
The book is very approachable and doesn’t use a lot of complicated jargon or delve too deep into the science behind the ideas, but rather uses concrete examples of individuals, companies, and organizations to illustrate key points. I listened to the audio book and for those on the lookout for a great listen; the narrator has a voice suited to the material that will make you just want to sit a listen till it’s done.
The only issue I had with this book is that it is light at the end on ways to change bad habits. However, from all the examples given, one can deduce effective ways to change or start new habits. If you are trying to start a running regime, keep your shoes and workout clothes by the bed so they are there when you first get up, then after a couple weeks the routine will become habit.
Personally I am trying to get to the gym more. I noticed that when I get home, I have little motivation to go all the way back out to the gym (though running is easy because I just change and I am off). To fix this I have bought a bike lock and plan to stop at the gym on my way home, instead of going home first.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in changing their bad habits or creating better ones. What I really took away from it was the hope that change is possible. I remember being overweight (after another failed diet) and thinking “this is it, this is how much I am going to weigh”. At that point I thought there was no way to change. But there was! I don’t know the exact changes that made it stick; however, I know that writing this blog and having someone to lose weight with has made a big difference.
Thank you for reading, now go out and get this book!
The link below goes to a great chart for how to go about anayzing and changing habits.