The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2013)
10/10 (would absolutely recommend)
If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real. This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.p 273
The Power of Habit has a three-part structure. There is so much to talk about when it comes to this book, but I’ll just give a brief description of each of the parts that will hopefully give you enough of a snippet to encourage you to get your hands on a copy of the book!
Part One is focused on how habits are created and how they operate in individuals. It explains the habit loop of cue-routine-reward, which is fuelled by cravings. In this Part, Duhigg teaches that habits “cannot be eradicated – [they] must, instead, be replaced” or changed, and this transformation of habits is only possible when you genuinely believe that you can change.
Part Two tells the stories of organisations including Starbucks and the London Underground to explain how company habits can have positive and productive results for organisations, whilst other habits can be destructive. Duhigg also uses examples from the department store Target’s marketing strategy and music group Outkast’s popular song ‘Hey Ya!’ to explain how organisations use our habits to their success. In Part Two, Duhigg emphasises that structure and systematisation are crucial for forming habits that have the potential to successfully transform companies and organisations.
Finally, Part Three uses Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr and the wider 1950s American Civil Rights Movement as a case study to demonstrate how habits like those found in friendships and communities feed into wider social patterns that can ultimately be used to bring about impactful – even historically important – societal change.
If you follow my personal Instagram account – @anoshamisa – you’ve probably seen me shouting about this book for a couple of months and recommending it left, right and centre. I will continue to do this because The Power of Habit is one of the most interesting, informative and engaging books I’ve read in a while.
I bought this book because I’d heard lots of great reviews from others in the productivity/learning community and now my review can be added to the numerous others because I have to agree with all the positivity surrounding The Power of Habit.
As I was reading the book I felt like a light bulb was switched on in my mind with all the anecdotes Duhigg used to explain things like memory, free will and willpower, right down to why we all use toothpaste. The book uses a wide range of examples of habits, and the notes provide evidence of extensive research going into the writing of the book. So when Duhigg states that the habit of making your bed first thing in the morning sets you up for a more productive day, the credibility and reliability of this productivity point are increased because of the research behind it. (Also, once again, science just confirms what my Mum has been saying for years lol).
Duhigg’s experience as a reporter for The New York Times helps because his writing style is intellectual without being intimidating. Duhigg also has this fascinating way of telling stories, where he weaves the science and the theory together with the real-life examples and inspiring stories. He dips in and out at different parts of the stories, which makes for a really engaging and insightful way of conveying the information. It may be a bit of a strange way of telling a story because it is in a way ‘non-linear’, but I found that it was just purely interesting. And more than that, it really helped me to develop an understanding of the behaviours he was explaining and I believe that if you understand how something works, you have the power to use it to its full potential or transform it for the better.
I actually read The Power of Habit alongside Eat That Frog! (read my review here!) and I think these two books complement each other because Eat That Frog! gives very practical tips for overcoming procrastination and getting important things done (i.e. ‘eating your frog’) whilst The Power of Habit provides the understanding of how to turn eating your frog into a productive habit.
Honestly, The Power of Habit is currently my favourite non-fiction book. It has been a great introduction to literature about cognitive and behavioural psychology and productivity. Whilst it doesn’t have to become your personal favourite, I do definitely recommend you read it – especially Part One ‘The Habits of Individuals’ – because the learning from it can be applied practically to any habit you have.
In a nutshell…
The Power of Habit is an engaging, entertaining and illuminating read, providing something to learn on virtually every single page. Most importantly, it has the potential to be life-changing to the extent to which you take it, believe it and run with it.
Get The Power of Habit from Amazon: