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January 18, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Power Of Habit: A Book Review

Have you ever ran into repeated self sabotage in your life?  In other words is there an area of your life where you’ve failed or at least been less than successful?  As good as we are as Americans at putting on the mask, we all have areas of our life we cover or make excuses for because we can’t seem to make traction in them.  Why do we have these problems?

Habits, they have too much power over us.

The answer?  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

I really have to hold myself back while I”m writing this review.  I originally learned about this book from The Art of Maniliness.  It is an epic book, very easy to read and interesting.  I read it in about 3 days.

In this book Duhigg simplifies the process of how habits are formed and through the power of intention and scientific action can break our old habits drowning them out with new effective habits.  Yes, I know, hard to believe, but it is that simple.

But it isn’t easy.

According to the book habits are composed of 3 primary elements.  Cue, Routine, and Reward.  For instance, if you have a problem with weight, or you have having a problem shaking off those last 10 pounds there is a habit somewhere that holding you back.  In his book he uses the example of going to the cafeteria at around 3pm to get a cookie.

The cue is boredom.  He gets up from his desk goes to the cafeteria, gets a cookie and gossips with friends.  The reward is either the sugar rush or gossiping with friends.

So what does he do?  He changes the routine, the first thing he does is get an apple instead and then talks with friends.  Eventually, he weeds that out and then talks with friends.  The reward has been narrowed down to, talking with friends at 3pm to eliminate his boredom.

Net result over time?  He loses weight.

Now the book is far more interesting than that.  Mr. Duhigg goes into all of the science and all of the reasoning as to how habits are formed and how we can create new ones.  It isn’t filled with a bunch of science though.  It is an excellent blend of scientific and anecdotal evidence that keeps the reader interested and engaged through out the book.

The beautiful thing is that take away stays with you.  And it gives you hope.  He also offers a different story for yourself as well.  Instead of beating yourself up over unchanged habits.  Be patient with yourself and be a scientist.  Use what works, throw out what doesn’t work.

If you combine this with metalearning (focusing on specific tactical areas) you will make great changes over time.  As W. Clement Stone said, “Little hinges turn big doors.”

My call to action for you?  Get this book!  I’d offer it to you through my own link, but I’m not allowed yet because I don’t have a self-hosted WordPress.  You’ll be so happy that you did, and it will help you stay on track with those New Year’s Resolutions/Goals!

What habits do you want to change this year?  What would this new framework make possible for you?

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