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

Although he claims to have had the idea for this book during his stint watching the military in Baghdad, Duhigg wrote this book because he wanted to kick his afternoon-cookie habit, replacing it instead with an afternoon-chat-with-a-friend habit. Most of the book was interesting, including the sports bits where the football team works to hone habitual responses which allow them to react more quickly than if they thought about their responses. Other examples were the introduction of Febreeze and Pepsodent, the safety emphasis at Alcoa, and Starbucks’ training of their staff.

Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort, conserving mental energy. Unless you fight a habit, the pattern unfolds automatically. So how to reshape a habit? Identify your routine, experiment with rewards, isolate the cue that tells the habit to kick in, and have a plan. When testing rewards, figure out what craving is driving the routine, jotting down the first 3 things that come to mind after you attempt a reward, then set an alarm for 15 minutes to see if you still have that craving.