The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

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On my personal scale of 0-10 this book ranks at 7. The most intense part with high information density was the Appendix at the end of the book which acts a Summary (p.275-286). Reading this book is the first step into your own hidden world of automated and subconscious actions, routines or habits. Explore them.


Author Charles Duhigg

Random House Books

Pages 371

Price 8,99 Euro

ISBN 978-1-847-94624-9


Sections and quotes i like

„[…] researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits“ – xvi Prologue

Before i sat down to write this post, i made myself a cup of coffee, checked my social network accounts and prepared my food supplement pills (Biotin, L-Tyrosin, Omega3, etc.). All these actions were performed by me on a daily basis for the last few years/months. This is my daily morning routine or habit.

I believe that the total amount of habits and other automatic/subconscious activities we perform every day are well beyond 80%.


„We might not remember the experiences that create our habits, but once they are lodged within our brains they influence how we act – often without our realization.“ – p.25

Most of share the habit of drinking coffee in the morning. None of us really know when and why we started doing this. There is another similar habit: Whenever we are about to face a performance-oriented task, we do incline to drink more coffee or energy drinks.

The coffee and energy drink industry are surely happy about our habits and maybe they played a bigger role in creating these habits trough Ads than we think.


„The habits that matter most [key-habits] are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.“ – p.101

Here Charles Duhigg has used cases that, in my opinion, are not relatable to the average reader.

In my case the „night activity“-habit has played a key role in remaking other routines and habits. Once i am able to resist being nightly active, i do wake up few hours earlier and less tired – this fact changes my mood, motivation and productivity throughout the day. This in turn makes me tired and exhausted at the end of the day, meaning i have no interest or power to stay active at night.

„The framework:

  1. Identify the Cue, Routine and Reward
  2. Experiment with rewards
    • Same clue and routine – different reward. Find out what is the true reason (reward) for the current routine.
  3. Isolate cue
    • Whenever you feel the urge for to smoke, eat, play casino note 5  factors to identify the cue:
      1. Location
      2. Time
      3. Emotional state
      4. Other people/objects
      5. Immediately preceding action
  4. Have a plan“ -p. 276


„The key to victory was creating the right routines.“ – p.110-111

„This is how willpower becomes habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.“ – p.146

„When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, if they think they are doing it for personal reasons – if they feel like it’s a choice […] – it’s much less taxing. If they fell like they have no autonomy , if they’re just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster.“ – p. 150-151

This is no news for anyone who has read psychology related books like Thinking Fast and Slow, Nudge, Behavioral Finance, Misbehaving or Outliers. Actions that intrinsically motivated can give you the physical and mental resources to hustle 24/7. But if you are forced to do something you do not like, you normally will have hard time to find motivation for that task.

„[…] institutions have found that reform is usually possible only once a sense of crisis takes hold.“ – p. 177

This is one of the many reasons we have many problems and issues in our very personal lives and globally – we are no different than a boiling frog (metaphor) regarding personal problems like health issues or more global catastrophes like Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, Overpopulation, Corrupt Government. It’s not possible to solve this dilemma. If you act on every minor issue, you will end up with to much unnecessary actions on issues that would have resolved themselves on their own. On the other hand it’s counterproductive to behave like a boiling frog. The best choice is to have an ever adapting golden middle.

„Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits.“ – p.178

This pattern can also be (seen) in the development of countries/nations. Whenever a crisis arises, a charismatic leader comes to power that denounces previous administration and suggest a radically different approach for governing. Ruchir Sharma described it very well in this book Rise and Fall of Nations (review coming soon…).

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