September 10, 2013

The Power of Habit

Had Charles Duhigg written The Power of Habit years before I gained 55 pounds I would have avoided the weight loss roller coaster ride I was on for years. Thankfully last year I read The Power of Habit and was quickly able to recognize some bad habits and put my weight loss on auto pilot.

But this book is not about losing weight, it's full of stories of people making great changes in their personal lives and business that can be traced back to habits. The Power of Habit is a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change.

"Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often."

To change my bad eating and exercise habits I needed to identify the cue that led to binge eating at night, and skipping my workouts in the morning or afternoon. My cue was sitting on the couch after 10pm with the lights on. Once I figured that out, I avoided snacking late at night and staying up late. Only then was I able to change my routines and form good habits like waking up early and getting my exercise in.

Later on I found my keystone habit and then the change I was seeking became automatic. Once I started playing soccer every week, I could no longer ignore my poor health and fitness.

"Keystone habits explain how Michael Phelps became an Olympic champion and why some college students outperform their peers. They describe why some people, after years of trying, suddenly lose forty pounds while becoming more productive at work and still getting home in time for dinner with their kids. And keystone habits explain how Alcoa became one of the best performing stocks in the Dow Jones index, while also becoming one of the safest places on earth."

We are all looking to improve our lives and make changes. The Power of Habit gives you a framework for achieving that change.

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