Book Review: The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhlgg

Fantastic read, 5/5 stars. Had interesting sections on how businesses use habits, how societal movements are based on habits, and on how you can change your life by analyzing your personal habits.


  • Where you store new information in your brain isn’t the same place as where habits are stored.
  • You can’t eliminate habits, but you can replace them. You need to identify cravings, then work on new routines that satisfy the same cravings as before. You have to believe you can change in order to do so.
  • Willpower is limited, so if you work it too much early on in the day, you’ve exhausted it by the evening unless you’ve worked to strengthen it over time. This is part of why early/mid day workouts are more accessible.
  • Paul O’Neill used keystone habits to change Alcoa. Identifying keystone habits changes your life with half the work.
  • Target knows WAY TOO MUCH about our lives.

Intriguing quotes:

“A community was a giant collection of habits occurring among thousands of people that, depending on how they’re influenced, could result in violence or peace.”

“Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.”

“Habits are a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.”

“Unless you deliberately fight a habit –unless you find new routines– the pattern will unfold automatically.”

“Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation. The problem is that your brain can’t tell the different between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.”

“To overpower the habit, we must recognize which craving is driving the behavior.”

“For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.”

“Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.”

Paul O’Neill – “The man has never encountered an answer he can’t turn into another twenty hours of work.”

“Keystone habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that, in the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, we might otherwise forget.”

“Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.”

“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.”


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