The Power of Habits: Harnessing Your Willpower

Today I came across an article the brilliant David Brooks in the New York Times on “The Machiavellian Temptation”. The article discussed how our habits influences our behavior, even unconsciously.  This discussion was brought on by a new book “The Power of Habit  by New York Times Reporter, Charles Duhigg.  I strongly agree that our habits shape who we are and what we accomplish. It is nice to learn about reasearch on the subject matter.

A few interesting points that David Brooks shared in his article include the following:

  • Researchers at Duke University calculated that over 40 percent of the actions we take are governed by habit, not decisions.
  • Researchers have come to understand the structure of habits — cue, routine, reward.
  • To be an effective person, appraise your own unconscious habits and the habits of those around you.
  • Every relationship becomes slightly manipulative, including your relationship with yourself.
  • We apply self marketing to ourselves with implanting certain cues to try and arouse certain responses.

Are you one of those early morning risers, that have to be at the gym by 5:30am or your day is ruined? Personally, I have to start my day with an exercise routine to be productive.  This includes keeping hand weights and a large exercise ball next to my bed so that I can roll out of bed and exercise. After my floor exercises, I usually head to the gym or out for a morning jog.

It appears that Charles DuHigg is on the circuit promoting his book, The Power of Habit. I found several great articles and interviews with him discussing the book. He consistently touts how everyday habits and  routines govern a surprisingly large portion of our behavior and how changing them be torturous.

In his interviews DuHigg candidly discussed how to better understand and harness routines.

A few interesting highlights from various interviews include insights on how leaders strengthen their resolve:

  • Good intentions – We all have them, but following through is the real trick.
  • Things we really enjoy are usually easy to establish as habits.
  • A habit has to deliver a reward that you actually enjoy.
  • Improve your composure. “Self-discipline is kind of like a muscle and should be exercised.
  • Practice for perfection. Role playing is key to success.
  • Pick it apart. Every habit — good or bad — has a cue, a routine and a reward.

I look forward to reading the Book “The Power of Habit – What we do in Life and Business.  After reading the book excerpts and poignant interviews, I am convinced that it a book that I should have in my personal library. The hard part will be whether to buy the digital version or the print version. I look forward to sharing my insights after personally reading the book. I will let you know if it helped me master the secrets of successfuly harnessing a new habit or is it all hype.

“The Machiavellian Temptation” - by David Brooks – New York Times

Mind Reading’: Q&A with Charles DuHigg on Changing Your Habits - by Maia Szalavitz  – Time – Healthland

Pump Mental Muscles To Boost Professional Willpower - by Sonja Carberry - Investors Business Daily

How You Can Harness ‘The Power Of Habit’ – NPR.org