The Power of Habit

One of my goals for this summer is to read a book per week. Last night, I finished The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (website here: This is a fascinating book that has the ability to open your eyes about how we act and how we can change how we act.

Duhigg starts by explaining the science behind habits and why people do things instinctively. When was the last time you actually thought about the steps it takes for you to get your car out of the driveway in the morning? And I mean not just “put it in reverse, back up, stop, shift to drive, go”. I’m talking about all the little details that go into backing a car out of a driveway. The amount of information your brain is receiving and sending for that action is immense, yet most experienced drivers rarely actively think about how to back a car out of their driveway. This is a habit.

The book continues on to talk about the habit cycle, what it is, how it is formed, and how it can be changed. After discussing individuals, Duhigg moves on to talk about the habits of  corporations (including what he calls Keystone Habits) and societies (looking at the Civil Rights movement, and social judgement). I cannot say enough about this book and how it has changed my view of how people function and how to change my own life. Understanding the habit cycle can make a big difference in how you function. The habit cycle is ingrained into who we are as people. Having a grasp of this concept allows you the opportunity to change it.

One part that I thought to be particularly interesting was the idea of Keystone Habits, brought up in the Corporation section of the book. Did you know that people who make their beds on a daily basis are better with money? Did you know that the culture of an entire organization was changed by a CEO who had one goal – to be the safest company? Duhigg refers to these as Keystone Habits – or habits that reach at the heart of who you are and have the ability to change the culture of an organization. Keystone habits can alter how people function by developing a basic operating structure. Everything else will flow from there. Making your bed in the morning requires quick attention to a minor detail – just like filing your receipts and tracking your spending. By focusing on safety, Alcoa was able to open up lines of communication that made their company a safer and more collaborative workspace.

After reading this book, I can now see and understand the actions that are going on in my life and in the lives of those around me as a habit based upon the habit cycle. We all have a vision for what we would like our lives to be like – reading this book gives you the power to understand how to change your life to fit that vision. You should start reading this book yesterday.

If you have read it, or are reading it – let me know what you think in the comments. I’m curious to see and hear other thoughts.