This blog post is taken from this month’s Rock.Paper.Scissors Inc. newsletter. See the entire newsletter, including free, related resources here. Don’t receive our monthly newsletter? Whatsamatter you! Sign up here.
News Blast! Check out a short & sassy survey I designed about habits. It takes all of 1 minute to fill out & you’ll be able to see some of the results as soon as you finish it. As a way of my saying thanks, if you choose, you can enter yourself in a draw to win a prize. Fill in the survey here.
It’s not about the Cookie! The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life & business, by Charles Duhigg
Willie knew what he was talking about. More than 40% of our actions are not decisions but habits. This has its pros & cons says Charles Duhigg, investigative reporter for the New York Times & author of The Power Of Habit.
On the yeah side (of 40% of our actions being on autopilot) it means that our brains can relax & focus on higher order thinking (how do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar?) rather than having to frenetically pay attention to every minor thing (how do I steer my car, tie my shoe, brush my teeth & write my name).
On the nay side it means we can be held prisoner to our habits. Because habits are ‘neurological cravings’ we cling to habits against all reason. ‘Habits can be so powerful that they overwhelm our capacity to make decisions.’ Don’t feel too bad foisting that chocolate chip cookie to your lips yet again as lab rats have knowingly walked across electrified flooring to fulfill a habit loop.
Duhigg lays out the habit loop that has lassoed our brains: cue à routine à reward. Cues come in 5 categories: the immediate preceding action, location, time, emotional state & other people. Understand the cue, replace the old routine with a new one et voila, you can conquer a habit.
The habit loop is powered by a craving, namely the anticipation of a reward. If you understand the craving, you’ll understand the behaviour.
Next week I’ll post some fun & funny resources related to habits. Can’t wait? Check out the newsletter that has all the resources here.