How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick

This blog post  is quite a nice summary of the most useful part of Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit.

When we are trying to be better, we usually focus on the decisions that we make. We hope that if we can just make better decisions, then we could be better people.

Habits, however, define much more of our day than our decisions do. The power of habit is part of the reason that changing our lives can be so hard. However, if we can understand how to change our habits, the power of habit can make change much more powerful and permanent.

Every habit you have has a

  1. Reminder,
  2. Routine, and
  3. Reward

You can take advantage of this to learn how to change the habits that shape your life. Start by looking at the habits that you have — analyze it. What is the reminder, the routine, and the reward? Once we identify the habit, we can start to think about how to change it.

You can take advantage of this to learn how to change the habits that shape your life.

If you want a short summary of this powerful book, I think that James Clear summarizes it well.

The Warren Buffett Way

I’m listening to The Warren Buffett Way: 3rd Edition by Robert Hagstrom.  I have found biographies generally to be some of the greatest stories of real life characters, full of nuance and insight that I haven’t seen as much in fiction, or at least the fiction that I have read.

This book in particular, although not strictly a biography, has certainly influenced the way that I think about financial success and how to achieve it.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28–30

I think it’s interesting that that your yoke can become easy and the burden light depending on our perspective. Makes me wonder how this ties into motivation theory and how we stay committed to something.

Changing habits

Changing a habit is complex. The appendix of “The Power of Habits” contains a framework for doing this that involves:

  1. Identify the routine.
  2. Experiment with rewards to isolate what you are actually craving.
  3. Isolate the cue.
  4. Have a plan

This recognizes the cue-routine-reward loop that is involved in each habit and suggests a way to approach change.

To identify cravings, afterward jot down three things that you are thinking or feeling and then wait 15 minutes to see if you still have the craving.

To identify cues, look for: Location, Time, Emotional state, Other people, or an Immediately preceding action.

Finally,

Once you’ve figured out your habit loop—you’ve identified the reward driving your behavior, the cue triggering it, and the routine itself—you can begin to shift the behavior. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving. What you need is a plan. 

This plan is to replace  the habit.