The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I first picked this book out at the library when I was in the midst of my Life Coach Training. With school, and practice, and my day job, I didn’t have the time I wanted to read it then, and I regretted having to take it back to the library unfinished.  I am sure someone else benefited from reading it during that time!

The spring that I was finishing up my training, a friend mentioned the title. I made sure to pick it up from the library once again, and this time devoured it in true bookworm style.

Why Is It Life Changing?

Our lives are made up of habits.  If they aren’t, our lives become chaotic and indecisive. From something as small as breathing to a larger routine of taking out the trash every Thursday night, our lives require habits to make things easier on our brain. Our lives become even easier when we know how to put in the right habits.

A habit is anything you require very little motivation to complete. It can be as simple as taking the same path to work every morning, or as complex as a juice cleanse every Sunday.  At first, we have to think about each part of the habit, but as we develop the cues, routine, and reward for each habit we incorporate in our lives, we can even forget that we do certain things. How many times have you reached work and not remembered the route? How did you get there? What were you doing instead? Thinking about other things your brain had the opportunity to explore because you were completing a habit!

Duhigg explains how sometimes we can change just one bad habit into a good habit and revolutionize our lives! He uses the example of a woman addicted to smoking and drinking who changed her habits to running instead. As a result of this positive replacement, she had also paid off all of her debts, travelled the world, and looked ten years younger. Another example illustrates how a dedicated CEO turned around a failing business by focusing on just one thing. I won’t give you any more details on that one, as it is gripping tale of organizational transformation!

Changing your habits changes your life so that you can change your world!

In his book, Duhigg illustrates the true strength of habits, from replacing the habit of smoking with marathon running to how America began brushing its’ teeth in the early 20th century, or how brain injury patients regained some aspect of normalcy to their lives. Duhigg’s ability to story-tell his way through each of his main points is exemplary. I haven’t been as captivated by a book since I read The Davinci Code. Don’t worry – Duhigg skips all the Templar mystery and fictional romance to convey a powerful message about the Power of Habit.

Who Should Read This?

I have recommended this book to everybody!

Charles Duhigg is a trained journalist – an investigative reporter, in fact!  He asks the big questions we didn’t even think of, and then breaks down the answer in such a way that a Grade 6 student could understand it.  I love books by journalists!

The people who need to read this book are: procrastinators, junk food addicts, wanna-be runners, smokers who want to quit.

In coaching, we acknowledge the existence of “gremlins.” Yes, they are as scary as the creatures in the moving. There is one gremlin in particular that holds too many people back from living their most fulfilling life.  This is the “Fear of Dreaming” gremlin. People with this gremlin think they can’t do it. They think they aren’t strong enough; they don’t have the right resources; the dream is meant for someone else more deserving, not themselves. They imagine all sorts of hurdles and failures within the project they want to be a part of. This imagining keeps them from even starting the project that – with their involvement – could change the world. These people should read this book!

What Could Make This Book Better?

Reading this book is a great first step!  If you’re a self-starter, you can definitely use the techniques he discusses to truly change your life!

BUT – as Duhigg explains in the book – the strongest changes happen when we have a group supporting us. The group keeps us motivated and accountable. They remind us of our commitment and celebrate with us when we reach a success! You don’t get that from a book, but you can get that from Coaching.

I’ve designed a Habit Group for people interested in using the ideas mentioned in Duhigg’s book to start changing their lives.  Fill out the form below if you are interested in being a part of the next Habit Group!

Habit-Building Group


What Else Might You Like

If you like this book, here are a few other reads from my home bookshelf that I think you might enjoy:

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I love books by journalists! This gem is a sweet story of the lessons a young journalist learned when he returned to one of his first mentors. If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out! If you’ve read it before…it’s a good book to read every few years.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Campbell

Can we control our biological fate? Is the answer to healing as simple as the conversations you have with yourself? On my second reading of this book, I did find it a bit strong on the religious side, but his points were memorable enough to make me want to re-read it years later. I recommend this book simply for the larger ideas that he breaks down in a simple format.

7 Habits for Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The truth must come out: I’m a Covey fan! Decades before the researchers Duhigg quotes in his book could prove it, Covey uncovered the strength of real personal growth: these 7 Habits.  If you haven’t read it – or listened to it – yet, you’re missing out.

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