I had listened to an interview with Charles Duhigg on the power of habits by the Good Life project earlier last year, and it made an impact on me. I was going through the podcast again when I decided to enrich my notes from the last time and publish it as a post.
You can listen to the podcast here: Good Life Project: Charles Duhigg - Power of Habit.
My Takeaways from the interview:
Every habit has 3 components:
- Cue: Trigger for the behavior - trains your brain into adopting a behavior as a routine
- Routine: The behavior itself
- Reward: The reason for the brain to adopt the routine
We usually think only about the routine when we think about our habits. But the cue & reward are essential to building habits.
Keep visual cues to remind you about the habit you are trying to build. Visual cues help you better in the acquisition of new habits.
Decision making isn’t involved in a habit because you have already thought about it and decided.
Cues fall into 5 categories:
It’s tough to eradicate a habit - the habit and its effects can create a craving stronger than addiction. It’s easier to change a habit than eradicate the habit due to this neurological impact of the habit.
Keep the same cue as the habit you are trying to change, keep the same reward, and work on changing the routine so that it’s easier to reprogram the brain
Habits are easier to build when it’s done in groups than alone.
Willpower is like a muscle, and building a habit is similar to building muscles; after acquiring a habit, it isn’t as hard to keep it up - it doesn’t need as much strength.
But changing a habit drastically without any of the old cues and rewards intact is difficult as it uses up more willpower.
The more you program your mind, the more you ritualize a habit, the more willpower you’ll have left for other tasks.
Willpower isn’t an unlimited resource - the more successful people are those who have habitualized a lot of their activities, leaving them with willpower for other habits that need decision making.
Some habits have more power than others. These are called Keystone habits.
Food journaling is one of the powerful keystone habits which leads to helping sidestep willpower and develop healthy eating habits.
Exercise is another keystone habit - people who exercise regularly, they eat better, they tend to spend less on credit cards too.
Keystone habits have a way of having a ripple effect.
Keystone habits give us a method for strengthening our will power and our sense of self-image.
Look for things that speak to your culture and values - look for things that provide a platform for other changes to identify keystone habits
Keystone habits often offer you an opportunity for small wins, which results in a rewards-driven habit building, making it easier to build the habit
You need social support to keep you going through the process to keep you motivated. You also need to reward yourself along the way.
Accommodate cravings into a routine in the form of cheat days, which can serve as a reward for the habit you are trying to build.
Habits are malleable if you understand the cues and rewards behind them
Charles Duhigg has captured these and a lot more in his book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”
Do buy a copy from Amazon and give it a read. I’m still reading the book and I’ll post my notes on it soon.
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