Latish Sehgal's Blog

Book Notes: The Power of Habit- Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Read On: Oct 26, 2013
Reading Time: 8 hours
Rating: 10/10


In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.


  • More than 40% of our daily activities are determined by habits. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
  • Habit loop consists of:
    • Cue: Trigger that tells the brain to go to automatic mode and use a particular habit.
    • Routine
    • Reward: Helps the brain to figure out if this loop is worth remembering for the future.
  • Habits never really disappear, and your brain can’t tell the difference between good and bad habits. Your bad habits are always lurking around, waiting for the right cues and rewards.
  • Habits create a neurological craving (for the reward), and these emerge so slowly that we are blind to their influence. If our craving is not satisfied, we feel disappointed. To overpower a habit, we must determine which craving is driving a habit.
  • To change a habit, you need to maintain the same old cue and reward, but change the routine. You still need to address the old craving with the new routine. For new habits to survive stressful situation, you also need to believe that change is feasible. Belief is sometimes easier to achieve as part of a community. To change a habit
    • Identify the routine you would like to change.
    • Experiment with different rewards, and try to identify the craving and the reward.
    • Isolate the cue. It can be
      • Location
      • Time
      • Emotional State
      • Other people
      • An immediately preceding action.
  • Keystone habits, over time, transform everything. Exercising is a good example of a keystone habit. People who exercise:
    • are more productive at work.
    • Smoke less
    • Are more patient with their families
    • Do better financially.
  • Small wins are a part of how keystone habits create widespread change.
  • The best way to strengthen willpower is to make it a habit. Experiments show that once people strengthen willpower in one area in their lives (exercise, finance etc), it touches everything else (diet, drinking …).
  • Like humans, most organizations are guided by long-held habits. Leaders should strive to cultivate habits that create real and balanced peace, and make it clear who’s in charge.
  • When change is needed, leaders seize the possiblities created by a crisis. During turmoil, organizational habits become malleable enough to both assign responsibility and create a more equitable balance of power.
  • People’s buying habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event


This was such a great read and I got a lot out of it. I think of my long term goals in terms of habits to be developed. Some good habits I am trying to stick to are working out, sleeping on time, limiting my caffeine and eating less sugar. Even focusing on my side project consistently has become a habit. I am definitely buying copies of this book for my family and friends.

P.S I have moved all my Book Notes to Read My Book Notes.