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"The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

My internship at Volkswagen was supposed to start at 4 february, however due to a problem with the documents with my university, my beginning was transfered to 1 april. So I had three months just to invest my time in personal works and whatever I wanted to do. In this period, I thought a lot about my life and my habits, and what I need to do to achieve my goals. So my girlfriend gave me this book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, which explains how can we manage our habits to transform our lives, companies and society. 

I had developed a really good habit of reading a lot since last year, and this had helped me a lot to improve my knowledge and my reasoning power. I've started reading books from a lot of different themes, from design and innovation to business and project management, because I knew that I want to become a designer with a open view, capable to link different areas to search for innovative solutions. And this book helped me understand what helped me to create this habit and what I can do to create new good ones.

A huge amount of things that we do in our daily lives are guide by our habits. If our brain would process all the information we are exposed daily, like walk, drive a car or find our way home, we wouldn’t be able to absorb new information and learn new things. So the brain stores these daily datas in a separated area so we don’t have to think every time we will execute them. And in this same area are stored our habits.

But the most important thing is how can we transform and create these habits. And to do that, Charles explain to us the "loop of habit”, which is compound of 4 elements: "cue - routine - reward", guided by a “craving”. A habit is only created if these 4 elements works together. For example, my habit of reading a lot of books started with the “cue" of "what can I do in my extra time instead of waste my time on facebook or watching tv?”. So I established a “routine" of reading all free time that I had and the “reward" was to improve my knowledge and my argumentation power in my work. And what push all this cycle forward is my “craving” of learning new things every day.

Duhigg give us a lot of examples in how people transformed their lives by managing these 4 elements. He shows us how people made change individually, transforming habits like smoking or start doing exercise; in how organizations transformed the way people work and have many profits, like Startbucks; and how a person like Martin Luther King was capable to transform the way society thinks.

One thought that is really interesting in the book is when Charles describes the power of a crisis. A lot of times we are working following a habit that we know is not good, but we still continue doing it because it’s too hard to change people’s behavior without a clear and strong reason. And a crisis is a really good opportunity to rethink everything that we were used to and propose new ideas to change. It’s a time when people are willing to accept changes. So the key point is: if you are facing a crisis, never waste it. 

It’s a really interesting book that help everyone who wants to change or make changes in their lives.

Danilo Saito1 Comment