The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Summary provides an easy-to-understand overview of the main ideas presented in this best-selling book. Each of the 10 takeaways includes a summary statement, key principles or themes, as well as action steps to help you apply what you’ve learned to your life or business.
Habits are your default way of behaving in the world; they’re what you go to when you don’t have to make a decision about something, or when something doesn’t require much thought from you. In The Power of Habits, author Charles Duhigg explains how habits shape us as individuals and help determine our success or failure as organizations, communities, and societies. Here are 10 takeaways from his summary of the book that can help you better understand how habits work and how to change them to your advantage.
It’s easy to dwell on what you should have done differently, but a better use of your time is to figure out what got you into trouble in the first place. And that’s where triggers come in. Once you understand how they work and how they can be beneficial, you’ll be able to harness their power. Or, if used unwisely, avoid their pitfalls. Even good habits can start becoming bad if certain negative triggers come into play.
2) Cue + Routine = Behavior
If you want to create a new habit—something you’ll do automatically, every day, without having to think about it—you have to focus on two things: your cue and your routine. What’s a cue? It’s anything that prompts your brain to tell your body that it should start doing whatever it is you want to be a habit. What’s a routine? That’s what you need to do after your cue. Learn more about building habits here.
3) Small Changes Have Big Impact
Making small changes in your life can have a huge impact on your success. For example, why not start brushing your teeth in different rooms of your house? You’ll begin to associate that action with a sense of accomplishment and goal-completion, so each time you brush your teeth it will become easier and easier to stick to. Soon enough, you’ll start looking forward to doing things for yourself and you’ll see real changes in how motivated you are to push yourself toward success. Get started by reading Power of Habits summary book!
4) Know Why You Do Things
If you don’t know why you do things, then it’s easy to succumb to temptation. When we do something because of a set of circumstances or as part of a routine, then it is much easier to follow through with than if there isn’t any purpose behind it. By having purpose behind your actions, you will be more likely to stick with them even when life gets tough. According to Duhigg, As people are coached on creating habits that are aligned with their values and motivations and they connect who they are at their core with what they want to do every day, they come alive in a way that feels authentic. They start doing things not because they feel obligated but because they want to.
5) Use Social Loafing To Your Advantage
It’s no secret that sometimes we can slack off around our friends. We might not work as hard when we know someone is watching over us because, well, it’s sort of like having a social boss! To get more done at work, try teaming up with a friend and making a goal together. For example, maybe you both agree to be on time for all meetings (or to leave early if you do end up being late). You’ll feel less anxious about slacking off in front of your friend and will probably be motivated to go above and beyond to keep from disappointing him or her. All in all, social loafing is something worth taking advantage of!
6) Seek Out Accountability Partners
If you have a habit you’re trying to change, don’t go it alone. Find someone—it can be a friend, family member, or coworker—to keep you accountable for following through on your goals. If your new healthy eating habits aren’t working out as planned and all of your cheat meals are being filmed by Netflix, it’s easy to fall off track. Having an accountability partner who knows what you’re up to is a great way to stay focused without giving yourself an excuse to fail. This allows you (and them) to help keep each other motivated, not only with one-on-one support but also shared experiences like checking in with each other at specific times during the day and celebrating victories together when things go well.
7) Use Implementation Intentions
one of our four key habits and outlined in chapters 1, 2, and 8. What are implementation intentions? Well, an example would be something like: If situation X arises, I will perform behavior Y. They’re if-then statements that prevent you from having to come up with good ideas on your own. If a certain situation comes up in your life, then automatically and without much effort (and hopefully very quickly) you’ll know exactly what to do—in fact, it may feel automatic because you won’t have had to think about it first. For example
8) Know When To Break Routines/Triggers
While habit-change is certainly possible, there’s also a lot of evidence that shows we don’t always need to go through habit-change to achieve our goals. When it comes to breaking habits, research suggests that you can be extremely successful by altering your environment instead of changing your routine. Instead of trying to lose weight by sticking with your regular eating routine, try saving all unhealthy snacks out of sight and reach (so you’re not tempted by them) or adding more physical activity in your day so exercise becomes a natural part of your morning routine. This might feel unnatural at first but give it time—you won’t have time to think about bad habits when you’re busy thinking about new ones!
9) Beware Incentives/Disincentives
In his book, Duhigg cites a study in which researchers asked some employees of a company to eat fresh fruit daily and others to eat candy. The fruit-eaters saw an improvement in heart health, but also gained weight. Why? Because for every piece of fruit they ate, their employers took 1/3 of a cent off their monthly health insurance premiums — rewarding them for eating healthy — while those who ate candy actually saw their rates increase slightly because they were gaining weight.
10) Create Anchors for Successful Implementation
#1 An anchor is a clearly-defined trigger that initiates a specific routine. In his book, Charles Duhigg talks about how every habit is made up of three parts: an anchor, a routine and an outcome. For example, let’s say you want to be more productive. To set an anchor for productivity, you can set an alert on your phone as a trigger that initiates a series of routines which eventually lead to increased productivity. #2 It may seem counterintuitive, but making it harder to do something will actually make it easier in time.