In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains some of the neuroscience behind how habits work, and uses many practical examples to show how they work in real life. In a nutshell, habits are the result of a 3-part cycle:
- Cue – the trigger that creates a craving for the reward
- Routine – the activity/behavior/habit
- Reward – what we get as a result of completing the activity/behavior
Because habits are basically etched into our brains, we can never erase them. We can only replace them and make the new stronger than the old with practice. The key to changing habits is to:
- Discover the cue. What is it that triggers the habit?
- Identify the reward. What is the craving the habit fulfills?
- Replace the routine. What alternate activities or behaviors might fulfill the craving when the cue occurs?
It’s fascinating, practical stuff. I look forward to using these concepts with my clients to help them figure out how to change the habits that maintain the status quo in their organizations.
To understand why people repeat patterns and to find out how to break them, add The Power of Habit to your summer reading list.