Understanding the Power of Habit

The Power of Habit
I started reading a book the other day called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.  The book is an examination of how routines and habits are created, where they reside and how having this understanding can help us change bad habits or to create new ones.

I’ve only just started but it’s been a very interesting read so far!  If you think about your day, so much of what you do is by habit and not as a result of active decision making.  What do you do first when you wake up in the morning?  Which shoe do you tie first? Which route do you take the work? According to a paper published in 2006 by a Duke University researcher, as much as 40% of actions people take throughout day were as a result of habits, not actual decisions!

A quote that spoke to me from the first few pages is from William James back in 1892: “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”

If so many of our actions are a result of habits and these habits are ingrained over time, how possible is it for us to bring about change?  We often hear the saying “people don’t change” as if people are tied to their habits and prone to repeating themselves.  Even though I’ve only gotten through the first few pages, one fact is clear.  Habits can be changed… and it often starts with a single small change which eventually leads to many and much bigger changes.

This is interesting, especially from a marketing standpoint.  We, as marketers, are always wanting to alter habits.  We want attract new leads and new customers which requires a change in their purchase behaviour (which is often made by habit).  How can we position our products and services in a way that will bring about a change in habit?

I am looking forward to reading more on this topic and understanding more about the mysteries that the human mind holds.  Only an understanding of habits (no matter how basic)  – how they are formed, where they reside, why they resonate – can help us know better how to change our bad habits or create new ones altogether!

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