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The Power Of Habit

Ian Jones

December 28, 2016


I have been ending this year with quite a bit of reading. The list is: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Linchpin, Are you Indispensable by Seth Gobin, Do the Work by Steven Pressfield, and So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport.

I just finished The Power of Habit, so I thought I'd write down what I've learned.

Habits are what drives our lives. We would be overwelmed with the amounts of desisions we have to make on a daily basis. Scientists have narrowed down that it is our Basal Ganglia that drives a lot of our habits. We, as a species, have had habits for a long time. They keep us alive.

In a modern world, habits are what can make or break careers, relationships, and even orginizations or societies. We have keystone habits that effect all of our other habits, for better or for worse. An example of a keystone habits that I have been experiencing lately is working out on a regular basis (or the lack there of). I have stopped working out as much because of how much I have been traveling. In consequence, I have seen other good habits that I've had fall off the wagon. My diet has got to shit. I don't cringe at Mcdonalds anymore, it has just become a bearable option when I need a quick meal. I also have been drinking a lot more. Both things that really add of the pounds if you aren't careful.

Changing these keystones habits can have a drastic effect on your life. They create small wins that can snowball into something huge. Understanding this, I am going to apply these concepts to how I work.

You can't just erase old habits, you have to change or override them. You take their cue, change the ruetine, and experience the same reward. Habits can be quite fickle, so it is important to really understand what is cueing a given habit.

Heres an example of a habit I want to change:

  • cue: Getting bored, not being entertained, needing something to do
  • routine: Play a video game
  • reward: sense of satisfaction in doing something/reward of playing a game and winning

I am going to take this habit, and change the routine. I want to start building websites, creating tools with software, or just learn a new programming language. When I start to get bored, I will use the craving of satisfaction of playing a video game and build something instead. If you have built a software project, you know how satisfying it is to finish something. That will be the reward I will start to seek.

I have a feeling that this habit of playing video games is a keystone habit for my. I think that I will be able to advance my programming ability enormously if I begin using this habit to nurture my skill (and even my love) for programming.

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