Book Summary: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg


If you’ve always wondered how does habit affect why we do what we do in our daily lives and business, this is the book for you. Learn how to change or alter an existing habit for the better by transforming habits.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Habits are defined as the choices and actions that all of us deliberately make without thinking but continue doing, often every day.
  2. “More than 40 per cent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions but habits.” That makes up approximately half of our daily activities!
  3. What creates a habit loop? The more times the brain encounters a “new” stimulus, mental activity in the brain decreases and the brain starts working less hard and forms a routine based on the cue to achieve the ending reward. Over an extended period, the habit is formed as the brain learned the patterns in the task. When a habit is ingrained, all the brain has to do was to recall the triggers, cues and playout the habit of obtaining the reward.
  4. Habit loop = Consists of a cue, routine and a reward.
  5. A habit emerges once we begin to crave the reward when we see the cue. E.g. The Cue = Social media notifications on your smartphone, Routine = unlocking smartphone to view notifications, reward = gratification or the feeling of reading the notification.
  6. During a habit loop, your brain stops fully participating in decision making. That explains the subconscious decisions to take the same route home from work, the same food for lunch etc.
  7. As the habit becomes stronger, the brain starts to anticipate reward and becomes happy before completing the habit loop.
  8. Habits never really disappear, to change or break a habit, we must address an old craving but keep the old cue and deliver the old reward by inserting a new routine.
  9. Framework for understanding habits and how they might change:
    – Identify the routine (Identify the behaviour you want to change, the cue for this routine and the reward)
    – Experiment with rewards (Notice and keep track of emotions, thoughts, and feelings after each activity to understand the rewards)
    – Isolate the cue (Habit cues tend to fit into one of these categories: Location, Time, Emotional state, Other people and Immediately preceding action)
    – Have a plan (Once you have figured out your habit loop, you can begin to shift behaviour. You can change the routine by planning for the cue and choosing a routine or behaviour that still delivers the reward you are craving for)
  10. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Grab the book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

I hope you’ve found some valuable takeaways from this quick book summary and if you enjoyed it, you could get a copy of this book which provides case studies and examples which you might find relevant and a more thorough and detailed explanation as to what forms a habit and why habits are essential in our daily lives. Learn more about the habit loop and how companies utilise the power of habits to market and sell their products. Lastly, one can learn how to create or change an existing habit for the better. It’s an exciting and knowledgeable book that deserves a spot on your shelf.


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