This review was written on 29th March 2017.
I found this book engaging, entertaining and thought provoking and it left me with plenty of ways to change any of my habits I don’t like.
When I first started reading this book, it appeared to be more suited to someone looking to learn more about business habits. But as I kept reading I realised that it wasn’t a business book, but a book for anyone who wants to change their habits.
And note that I said change habits, not create new ones. The author surmises that it is easier to change an existing habit than to try and create a new one. This in itself it quite revealing if, like me, you want to change the way you work by doing things you’ve never done before. (Hint: it’s almost impossible…so far)
In the first chapter, the author introduces what he calls “the habit loop” which is a 3-step process of habits that contains a cue, a routine and a reward, that happen in that exact order every time.
First a cue happens (it’s 10 a.m.). Then we perform our routine (have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake). Next comes the reward (feeling satisfied).
This habit loop eventually becomes ingrained into our brains which forms a habit so we follow the loop without thinking.
To change the habit, we need to change the routine. We need to change what we do. The cue will always be there and so will the reward. So we have to change the routine.
Habits are performed automatically to make our life easier. This is why procrastination can be a problem because our lazy brains will trick us into doing the easiest thing. So when it comes to tackling a big project, it’s easier to procrastinate and waste our time on unnecessary and easier things:
“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit, unless you find new routines, the pattern will unfold automatically.”
This is how retail stores and casinos want to learn far too much about you and your spending habits (using coupons, special offers, loyalty cards) so that they can actually manipulate your behaviour and trick you into spending more.
Even radio stations will play a familiar and ‘comfortable’ song either side of a new song to lull you into accepting the new song as familiar too. This is how new songs become popular and climb the charts.
And it’s not just retail stores, casinos and radio stations that manipulate us. When you read the book you’ll see how it’s happening around us all the time. Even charities do it.
But there is hope. Once you’re aware of what is happening, you’ll notice it more and fall for it less.
And Charles Duhigg breaks down habits into their separate components and provides ideas for changing them to improve our habits. He also provides actual cases where it’s worked for overcoming gambling addiction, drinking, nail biting and more.
This book is thoroughly researched throughout and includes several pages of sources.
The answer to overcoming bad habits and replacing them with better ones, is explained in this book in detail and it’s such a deceptively simple method that it will leave you shaking your head and wondering why you hadn’t figured it out for yourself.
This book could also be used as a guide for marketers to show just how easy it is to manipulate people’s buying habits.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to change their habits, or any business people or entrepreneurs who want to improve their bottom line.