Let me start by giving you a little background of why I read this book. See book like this end up being picked by people who are in one of the below phases in their life:
- Trying to break bad habits and consistently failing like a pro
- Trying to make new habits and consistently failing like a pro
- Not satisfied with what they have in life and they blame it on their habits
- Blinded by the myth that reading a book will magically change things for better
- Like reading for pleasure & knowledge
While this book is a good read for someone who falls in the last category, it might also be of some help to those who are in any of the top 4. Those of you who have read this blog before know that I have been trying to get up early in the morning for ages and I have been failing massively. Its come to a point now that it hurts my ego like, “Shikha Chaudhary you can’t do something as simple as getting up @ 6:00 AM every day!”. And frankly, I don’t even remember now why I wanted to get up early in the first place and I might not even remain a morning person forever. Now, its just one of those things that I want to try out for once in my life, see how it feels and then decide whether I want to continue doing it or not.
Anyways, back to the book. The author has given insight into a really good concept and backed it up with a huge list of experiments done on individuals and in big corporations like Starbucks and Target. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success, all comes down to understanding how habits work. The book contains a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change.
The Habit Loop is a neurological loop that governs any habit. The habit loop (discovered by MIT researchers while experimenting with rats running mazes) consists of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Understanding these elements can help in understanding how to change bad habits or form better ones. The cue for a habit can be anything that triggers the habit. Cues most generally fall under the following categories: a location, a time of day, other people, an emotional state, or an immediately preceding action. A habit’s routine is the most obvious element: it’s the behavior you wish to change (e.g. smoking a cigarette or biting your nails) or reinforce (e.g. taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or drinking water instead of snacking). The reward can be anything, from something tangible (e.g. chocolate), something intangible (e.g. a half hour of television) to something with no inherent value but what it is given (e.g. tokens).
So, the crux of making a habit or breaking a habit or changing a habit is in below three steps:
- Identifying your habit routine (say getting tea from the cafeteria in the office every day even when you think you will quit)
- Experimenting with the reward (like instead of getting tea when you crave for it, go talk to a friend or meet some colleague or eat a fruit or some nuts or watch a YouTube Video, basically try different things till you find the one that keeps you from drinking tea)
- Isolate the Cue (What is it that makes you crave tea? Is it the location or time of the day or your mental/ emotional state or someone’s company? What makes you have that cup of tea?)
So all you have it now, identify these three steps or make these three steps for a habit you are trying to form and then focus on it and stick to your plan. Simple isn’t it! The book also talks about willpower and why you should save it for the things that matter (like forming good habits) and not waste it on random things (like not to have a cup of tea when you are literally craving for it). Willpower is a very important resource and the more you use it, the less you have of it. So make good habits, save your willpower for the right stuff and be a happy, healthy, successful and freaking awesome human!!