The power of habits

What is a habit?

A habit is some kind of choice that we make at some point in our lives and continue to do often. Habits are unique for every person. It is a regular practice which is difficult to give up. Our mind tends to indulge in a habit subconsciously.


Habits play a significant role in our life. Our mind saves energy to collect significant things rather than the practice ones. Patterns are already created for a particular habit in our mind. Habits don't need an effective brain to function. Drinking tea or coffee in the morning, reaching to our toothbrush even with closed eyes facing no difficulty, consuming alcohol, eating junk food, etc are our settled habits. We don't need to make many efforts in our habits. Good habits make us. On the other hand, bad habits can destroy us. Habits have a great impact on our life. The author Charles Duhigg defines the habits of the essence of everything we do, how we can change our habits, its impacts, etc. The book serves as a guide to those who struggled with their habits, cravings, and routine.

The roles of habit

Habits play different roles for an individual, company, group or society. 
  • As humans, we need to free up our limited resources such as mind and attention. Our working consciousness is limited by nature. So we need to move some responses to our subconscious mind.
  • We need to manage thousands of responses throughout the day. 
  • Habits emerge without our consent.
  • Habits save the energy of our mind. So it's important to inculcate good habits in oneself.
  • Habits have structural changes in our brain. So takes time to decay or change. 
  • Nowadays, organizations are getting benefitted with our habits such as using cabs instead of auto rickshaws, online shopping, etc. They manipulate our habit cycle.
  • To achieve some goals in life, our habits play a major part. We need to stick to good habits and make them our routine to make a definite change.
  • The brain will make almost any routine into a habit as it allows our minds to ramp down more often.

The anatomy of a habit

Habits are so powerful because they create neurological cravings. These cravings exist without our mere understanding. It's very significant to know about the habit loop. The habit loop makes us understand how habits are made. The author describes it as a three-way process.

  • Cue/trigger - What triggers you to do a particular habit. Example - Whenever I go to the mall, I feel like doing shopping. So going to the mall triggers my habit of shopping.
  • Response/Routine - It is the behavior or practice in which we engage with time. It's automatic. Example - Going to the coffee machine and drinking coffee every day. Our response is our routine automatically.
  • Reward - It's the reward which you'll receive after completing the habit. Example - happiness after having cold coffee, the taste, etc.
     Cue + Response = Reward.

Create a habit

The below steps should be performed to create a new habit. Continuity is the desired factor.
Identify the desired response
  • We need to work on new habits effectively. New habits need willpower and effort. So decide milestone for yourself and try achieving them one by one rather than at a one shot. Work on one thing at a time to do it effectively. 
  • Plan in advance to make the new response a routine. Take all prior efforts to complete it. Don't give yourself a chance to divert.
Select a trigger
Choose one or more cue for your response to complete.
  • Location - Some place that triggers this habit.
  • Time - The particular duration for this habit. A regular time that fits.
  • Emotional state - Is this habit exciting or tiring?
  • Others - Who all can trigger this habit. Your spouse, friends or colleague.
  • Last action - What series of steps need to be followed for this habit. 
Visualize the cue and rehearse the exact response to it in your head.
Design rewards
  • Track your performance and celebrate small wins.
  • Have a support network of friends, spouse or family that motivates you to keep going.
  • Treat yourself. 
  • Have a clear set goal for yourself and track it often.
  • Be thoughtful about your new habit and its rewards.
  • Consider small wins as they motivate to keep going.
  • Practice new habits for a cycle of 30 days.

Changing bad habits

To create a new habit we need to put together the cue, routine and reward and understand the loop of habit. There is no formula defined to change your bad habits. The link between cue and reward is routine. The stronger the link, the more difficult to change a habit. Anyhow, we can change any habit with strong willpower. We need to cultivate good habits to have the charge of our life. We practice the response until it becomes an automatic habit. Repetition triggers long term changes to our brain learnings and patterns. The brain thinks of the reward as soon as it encounters any kind of cue. We tend to perform the same response as our subconscious mind always leads to the path of least resistance. We need to use our willpower against a settled bad habit. There is no single formula to change a particular habit.
  • Some habits are easy to break down, others are complex.
  • Every person has different triggers for the same habit.
  • Some habits are easy to change, others are obstinate.