Hey there, Dean here. I run content and SEO at AppSumo. Here, I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more.
The Power of Habit is by far one of the most recommended books (by me), I believe everyone should read it if they want to take control over their life. It explains perfectly how our habits work backed by science, research, and real-life stories. Besides, the book has provided practical strategies and techniques to apply the changes on the individual, organizational and societal level.
Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. In another word, the brain will make almost any routine into a habit because it allows our minds to ramp down more often.
The habit formation within our brain is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue to tell your brain to go into automatic mode. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps you brain to figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
Habits emerge without our permission.
Habits are so powerful because they create neurological cravings. Often, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist.
To create a new habit, put together a cue, a routine, and a reward, then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.
You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it by using the same cue, provide the same reward, but change the routine.
To break your bad habits, identify the cues and rewards, then, you can change the routine.
For some habits, there’s one other ingredient that’s necessary: belief.
Unfortunately, there is no specific set of steps guaranteed to work for every person in breaking their bad habits and building a new habit.
Keystone habits are effective because they lead to other small changes that lead to many small wins.
Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage. Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favors another small win. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.
To succeed, we need a keystone habit that creates our culture and environment – such as a daily gathering of like-minded friends – to help find the strength to overcome obstacles.
In the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, keystone habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that we might otherwise forget.
If you want to do something that requires willpower, you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day. If you use it up too early on tedious tasks like writing emails or filling out complicated and boring expenses forms, all the strength will be gone by the time you get home.
When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, if they think they are doing it for personal reasons – their personal choice or pleasure – it’s much less taxing. If they feel like they have no autonomy, if they’re just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster.
Organization routines provide the hundreds of unwritten rules that companies need to operate. They allow workers to experiment with new ideas without having to ask for permission at every step. Routines reduce uncertainty.
Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits. In fact, crises are such valuable opportunities that a wise leader often prolongs a sense of emergency on purpose.
An organization with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it. Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis – or create the perception of crisis – and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.
People’s (buying) habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event.
To encourage people to practice new behavior, it needs to take advantage of patterns that already exists within them.
Social change and movement only happen with the existence of the weak link – the change as a whole within a group of people without a direct connection – and the strong link – the change of people around with close relationship (peer pressure).
Habits emerge within the brain and often, we don’t have the ability to control them, but we’re conscious and aware of them. With that said, it’s still our responsibility to cultivate our own habits and take charge of our own life.