book review – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

If you want to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise regularly or work more productively, you need to understand which habits of yours contribute to the undesirable behavior.

New York Times business reporter (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Charles Duhigg became a student of habits, looking at what causes us to repeat the same activities, even when we say we want to change them.

His hypothesis, that every habit consists of a cue, a routine and a reward, makes a lot of sense. Behaviors, especially those that are well established, can be hard to change. He maintain that if you can diagnose your habit, you can change it. Watch this video of Duhigg explaining how the process works. (It’s the book trailer for The Power of Habit, but it’s informative, too.)

It turns out that the same cue-routine-reward loop can be used to improve companies or any large organization. It all comes down to looking at people’s habits.

I found this book by accident, while looking for another book about decision management and change. This could have turned out to be a very dry, scientific read; however, Duhigg’s story-telling style makes the book fun to read, while the compelling tales of people who have been affected by change will keep your interest.

I have used some of his ideas with clients who want to make changes in their lives. What habit would you like to change?

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