The Power of Habit Book Review: How to make New Year’s Resolutions that last

Published on: Mon 7 January 2019 by Admin

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Score: 9/10

Biggest Takeaway: Understanding the habit loop, how to recognise each of its three elements, and what to change to step out of habits we want to leave behind putting good ones in their place.

Who should read it? Anyone who has a desire to understand themselves and others more deeply.

P.S. Don’t forget to read until the end where there’s a chance to win all three books from RightTrack Learning 2019/Q4 BookClub

New Year Resolutions that last…

Scrabble resolutions

How good will you feel when you accomplish a New Years Resolution goal?

What can you do this year that will mean you stick to your promise and get to your Personal Development goal?

If you are like me, you can look back on a history of well-intentioned January resolutions and regimes that gradually disappeared into the swamp of deeply embedded habits. Well, over the last couple of months I read, and re-read, a fascinating and substantial book by Charles Duhigg titled The POWER OF HABIT. In it, is the formula for identifying and replacing unwanted habits with those you know you want to embrace and make your own.

This book shows how we can Change unwanted habits to achieve our goals and aspirations. It is simply about reprogramming your life for the better. It relates a whole treasury of stories and evidence-based explanations of how we find ourselves victim of insidious habits we originally had no intention of starting and how successfully to replace them with new ones.
Most of us have fixed routines and habits in most aspects of our lives, from getting up in the morning, to going to bed at night. Then there is our inner voice that persuades us to skip the early morning run or yoga class or gives us the OK to break our diet plan with an extra slice of Pizza or bar of chocolate. And after a while we don’t even have an argument with the inner voice, we crave the pleasure or reward, so we allow ourselves to follow the line of least resistance.

Charles Duhigg’s research shows how we can identify the components of an unwanted habit and change it for the long term. It is about understanding what makes us form habits, what rewards entice us to follow them and how to replace them with those that better nourish and help us improve.

Forming fulfilling habits in your work and life.

As you prepare to follow this plan recognise that it will take you time, planning and perseverance. The more effort you put into each of the following steps you more certain you will be of getting smarter, better, fitter, healthier, slimmer or whatever you have chosen to achieve.

To replace an unwanted habit

Planning habits

1. To start, identify what the routine or habit is that you want to replace.

(Like when you have your lunchtime sandwich and habitually eat a packet of crisps – the unwanted calories you are committed to cut back on)

2. Identify the reward which comes from the habit.

Is it derived from the taste, texture, sugar-rush, feeling of freedom and independence or just contentment?

3. What is it that triggers the desire to follow the habit:

  • A time of day
  • A place
  • Something that just happened
  • An emotional state
  • Another person
  • A smell, sound or voice?

It may take some time to accurately define each of the stages, and once you have done so you are half way there. You must start to plan the new habit to replace the old one. (Never forgetting that old habits die hard, they are, and always will be ready to spring back into action if you fail to be aware of them.)

The new habit

Goal setting

1. The Power of habit will be built on a routine which follows an existing prompt or new trigger you identify to put in place of the old one. For example, if the old trigger was 7.45 am, and the routine toast and croissants with lashings of butter and jam, then the new trigger could be to set the alarm 20 minutes earlier. Your new routine or habit may be to put on your trainers and jogging bottoms straight out of bed and go for a 20-minute exercise session followed by a quick shower. Breakfast is then a low sugar smoothie, or porridge and coffee.

2. The reward you will identify for yourself. You may identify one or several. The feel-good which comes from the exercise, the sense of wellbeing from eating healthily, the progressive loosening of your belt, or the bathroom scales tracking your weight loss.

3. To embed and sustain the habit you must write the new habit down, what you are going to do and when. Put the conditions in place the night before to iron out any obstacles or excuses, put the trainers at the ready, the breakfast ingredients in kitchen, the scales on the bathroom floor, all ready to go.

Most importantly. Document those moments you anticipate when you might weaken, when the inner voice might urge you to give yourself a treat today, have an unscheduled break. Decide what they are, when they might occur, and what you will do at those moments to keep on track. Think through each one and write down your work-arounds that keep you on track.

If you want to read all of Charles Duhigg’s book then get a print, kindle or audio copy of The POWER OF HABIT.


Competition Time

For a chance to win all 3 books shortlisted from RightTrack Learning 2019/Q4 BookClub share one of these the three book reviews on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and tag RightTrack Learning.

The books are:

  1. ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg
  2. ‘When’ by Dan Pink
  3. ‘15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management’ by Kevin Kruse