The Power Of Habit

A 140 character summary: Most actions are habits. Once understood, and with a bit of work, you can change them.

Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom – and the responsibility – to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.

Cue. Action. Reward.

Habits are automated loops of action during which the brain pretty much switches off. Which is great – in evolutionary terms – because it allows us to focus on other stuff.

The loop: We react to cues, act in a way we’ve acted before and gain whatever ‘reward’ we were after. That could be the thoughtless loop involved in backing out of your drive (in car // back out // ready to drive) or an explanation for my nail biting (? // bite nails // ?).

By understanding what sets off the habit loop and why we’re doing it (be that for an emotional, physical or physiological end) we can change the middle action.

While most obviously that has implications for personal development, it’s also at the heart of marketing and leadership – why do people act the way they do and how can this behaviour be altered.

Like most things I’ve been reading it all comes down to awareness; of yourself and your surroundings. Nothing is fated.

Things I noted down

Habits create neurological cravings - an almost Pavlovian response. Once the cue appears the brain *counts on* the reward.

The burning sensation in Listerine? Added. Foam in shampoo? Unnecessary. "Consumers need some kind of signal that a product is working" - Tracy Sinclair.

There's something really powerful about groups and shared experiences. People might be skeptical about their ability to change if they're by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief

Willpower as a finite resource; cookie / radish experiment.

This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behaviour ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.” — a question of simply following 'orders', not choosing under pressure?

Dude, Starbucks. Wow. All about the routines: e.g. pissy customer // Do trained thing // happy customer

For organisations, crises are brilliant; rules become malleable enough to enforce real change

Big Data — with enough information you can pinpoint the routines. Target