Can “The Power of Habit” help me?

I’ve posted a few times my ongoing observations from working through this book for the second time, little snippets that haven’t amounted to much. Today I finally conclude my rereading.
Do you have a habit you wish you could get rid of? Scoffing biscuits an hour before dinner might, for example, be one. Well, Duhigg does offer fresh insights. Gather research over a couple of weeks. What is the cue, the moment and the motivation that triggers needless eating? What is the reward? This research needs to be thorough, for the cue might be subtle. For example, the thought of impending dinner might not just trigger raw hunger but a desire to “call it quits for the day.” So: cue = 5 PM thoughts of dinner; routine = overeat; reward = relief from the stress of the day. Now, here’s what you do – replace the routine with something else that satisfies the same reward. In our case, we might set an alarm for 5 PM, grab a book and walk five minutes to read for fifteen, and the same reward results: aaah!. Systematically stick to the new routine and after a few weeks, bingo, the Tim-Tams rot in the pantry.
The trouble is, I don’t seem to have many really bad habits, at least in my own mind. At this point in my life, I’m more interested in creating “better” new habits, and here Duhigg’s book isn’t, for very good reasons, as helpful. It helps to appreciate how cue, routine, and reward combine to form a big new habit, but the hard part is determining exactly what the new habit should comprise, and having the motivation to instil it. That, I realise, is tough.
A Big Year is, it seems to me, a highly specific way of instituting new habits. The cue is a brute force one: do something every day for a year. The reward is whatever yearning or fascination impels the Big Year activity in the first place. After 365 cue/routine/reward repeats, on December 31, hopefully something of a new, intoxicating habit will have formed. Let’s see!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *