Are you tired of setting goals and then going back to the same old same old? I am.
The best intentions aren’t good enough. Right? So after pounding myself on the head a few times – I went looking for a better way. A better way to create good habits THAT LAST.
I found the answer in this book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
Charles Duhigg is a genius. This is why …
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The Secret To Efficiency
On a daily basis, my life is a bit chaotic. I have four kids, I work, I blog – there is tons to do.
Some days I can accomplish so much, yet on others, I get nothing done. And then there are those days that things just slip through the cracks. They just disappear.
And I wonder, how is it that other people function so well?
I am downright envious of people that are so put together. They sail through each day so efficiently. And they accomplish so much in the same 24 hours that I find so jam packed.
My suspicion is that the answer was not that they were smarter or even more organized than me, but that it has something to do with routine.
In the Power of Habit – Duhigg confirms these suspicions.
A habit gives people the ability to act without having to take the time to think about the action.
This, of course, can be good and bad. After all, there are both good habits and bad habits.
How A Simple Habit Keeps Our House Running Smoothly
One habit that I have developed over the years is very mundane but essential to my daily routine. Every night I run our dishwasher. While the coffee brews in the morning, I empty the dishwasher.
This result of this simple habit is that there are never dirty dishes piling up in the sink because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes or because the dishwasher is running in the middle of the day. And there are always clean dishes available during the day when the family needs them.
This one simple habit keeps our busy kitchen running in an efficient manner.
Building New Habits, Changing Old Ones
The Power of Habit begins by describing how one woman hit rock bottom and turned her life around by kicking old habits and developing new ones.
In the first section Duhigg explores research and a few case studies into the why and how of habits.
Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
It makes perfect sense.
The Habit Loop
For a habit to exist there needs to be 3 components: a cue, a routine, and a reward.
The cue is the trigger that tells you to start the routine. The routine is what you do to make the reward happen.
Chapter 2 in The Power of Habit tells us how new habits are created and Chapter 3 explains what we must do to change old ones.
I know that the secret to accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions is to create many new habit loops. If I can put my day on autopilot I won’t waste time trying to figure out what to do next.
One thing that I have started to do every evening is planning the following day out in detail. To accomplish this I use the calendar on my iPhone but I am also using a Franklin Planner 2 page per day paper calendar.
By actually jotting things down, I am getting an accurate picture of how much time I really have. This keeps me from trying to squeeze too much into each day.
The second part of The Power of Habit explores the habits of business and organizations.
While this section is not as relevant to accomplishing personal goals, it really delves into why people do what they do at work.
While companies are not living, breathing beings – they also do have habits. And improving on those habits can improve the bottom line as well as other intangibles like worker satisfaction.
The Habits of Societies
The third part explores the habits of societies as a whole.
While this section was interesting – I found that I found the first section and the appendix (A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas) to be invaluable.
I know that I will be referring to this book – The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – many times throughout the upcoming year.
What habits do you want to make or break?