The Power of Habit

Mar 5, 2013

The Power of Habit cover

Rating: 55

A fun read that breaks down how habits are formed and how they can be changed. Duhigg is great at providing anecdotes and stories about how habits have influenced many things that we are not aware of, like advertising. I also enjoyed the examples he gave for how to isolate bad habits and replace them with better ones.


  • Habits have a three-step loop. First there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. Then there is the routine, which can be physical, mental, or emotional. Finally there is a reward, which helps your brain determine whether the loop is worth remembering in the future.

  • When a habit emerges your brain stops participating in decision making so the pattern will unfold automatically.

  • Habits never really disappear.

  • As habits develop further, the brain starts anticipating the reward.

  • If you remove the cue, people can go for a long time without realizing that they haven’t performed their habit, like disabling notifications for new emails.

  • To change a habit, you need to recognize the craving that is driving the behavior.

  • To create a habit, choose a cue and reward. Allow yourself to anticipate the reward, which will eventually make it easier to perform the desired action.

  • You can never truly extinguish bad habits, but you can keep the old cue and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.

  • Organizations are guided by long-held habits and patterns that emerge from employees’ independent decisions. During turmoil and crises, organizational habits become malleable to change.

  • You can choose and modify your habits once you know how. To modify a habit, you must decide to change it, consciously accepting the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habit’s routines and find alternatives.

  • Once you know an undesirable habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it.

  • The will to believe is the most important ingredient in creating belief in change.

  • To reshape a habit: identify the routine, experiment with rewards, isolate the cue, have a plan.

  • Cues usually fit into: location, time, emotional state, other people, immediately preceding action.

  • You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving with a plan.

←Minimal command line argument processing So Good They Can't Ignore You→