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The Power of Habit Book Review

I’m trying something new out. I read about a book a week, I write a book report from every book I read (that I selfishly save to my hard drive).

I figured it may be helpful to share them with others.

This year I’ve formed a fair amount of new habits: morning situp / pushups, new diet, workout routine and other ocd things. 🙂

So the topic of habit formation, will-power, positive triggers, self-awareness and other personal improvement things are interesting to me. When I look at what a great day is for me, I can build new habits so I can have more great days.

Queue the top selling book Power of Habit. I read Willpower as well, which in my opinion is more data / research driven. Both are great.

Here are the key takeaways from The Power of Habit including my thoughts regarding improving your life through habits:

You want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good? Pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up. You want to make running easy? Create triggers to make it a routine. Shoes by the bed, wear your running clothes to sleep, etc..


As the route to a reward for mice became more and more automatic, each started thinking less and less. Relies upon the basal ganglia, stores habits while rest of brain goes to sleep. Opens brain up to focus on other things and automatically make things happen. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. #LAZY (Click to Tweet!)


Once we develop a routine of being lazy, those patterns always remain inside our head.  Once someone creates a new pattern, studies have demonstrated, going for a jog becomes automatic.


To start a new habit, find a simple and obvious cue, clearly define the rewards and in between the routine that you want to happen before the reward.


Once people form a habit they expect / crave the results aka the reward.


Once our brain learns that a doughnut box contains yummy sugar, it will start anticipating the sugar high. If we don’t eat the doughnut, we’ll feel disappointed.


Eventually a person will have a bad day, and no new routine is going to make everything seem okay. What can make a difference is BELIEVING that they can cope with that stress without alcohol.


By attacking one habit and then watching the changes ripple through the organization, called “keystone habits.” Focus on 1 thing that will have underlying ripple affects through the rest of your business or life. Think worker safety or doing a marathon and the other pieces that will get fixed by focusing on them.


When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Start eating better, more productive at work. Another study showed families who eat dinner together raise children with better skills, causation vs correlation?


Focus on the root problem then attacking that is what is key. Must create structures that help other habits to flourish. Teaching educators was key to infant mortality rates, not just trying to solve symptom of the issue.


Willpower can be depleted. If you avoid the radishes you use up willpower you don’t have to prevent other things. So important to be aware of while you are working, spending time with others, etc…


People who self-regulated and had better discipline / habits, building self-regulatory strength. Helps you focus on a goal and will help you get past being a one hit wonder.


People who pre-commit are more likely to follow through on their habits. Build around inflection points when they know temptation would be the strongest. Follow the plan / behavior agree ahead of time. That’s how willpower becomes a habit.


If people are asked to do something that takes self-control, if they think they are doing it for personal reasons – if they feel like it’s a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else – it’s much less taxing.


A moment of crisis — something must change — easier to start new habits then.


If you can sandwich things in similar fashions it makes it easier to become a habit. Think of eating liver or the song ‘hey ya’ wasn’t similar to what people are used to but sandwich between what people ARE used to.


The power of weak ties (Rosa Parks) made it difficult to avoid joining in.


For an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling. And the surest way to achieve that is to give people new habits that help them figure out where to go on their own.


Interesting: Pathological gamblers saw near misses as like wins. Others saw them as a loss.


James spent 12 months believing that he had control over himself and his destiny, that he could become better, that he had the free will to change. The will to believe is the MOST important ingredient in creating belief in change.


If you believe you can change – if you can make it a habit – the change becomes real.


What is 1 habit you want to start? 

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8 responses to “The Power of Habit Book Review”

Jose Lira - An entrepreneur who loves to travel!
January 19, 2013 at 12:20 am

Awesome bro! I checked these books out on amazon and I just added them to my wishlist.

I found the cycle of trigger (or cue), routine, reward mentioned by the author in the little intro video at the bottom of the amazon book page particularly fascinating. Because understanding how the brain works is very valuable. ie the whole “number 7” deal mentioned in “The Tipping Point”, that can make a big difference while organizing the files in your PC. I actually realized it and applied it, but if I had read it before, I would have saved time. What else am I missing? I want to know, the brain is fascinating! (Tipping point, great book by the way, I devoured it in 3 days, loved it).

Anyway, what I be saying mate is: thanks for sharing the books your read and the insights. Finding nutritious reads is always greatly appreciated.

Be cool.

Matt Cartagena
November 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

Noah – I’m curious how you manage to read so much (a book a week for a busy person isn’t easy). I asked the same question to Ryan Holiday, who devours books. He said he typically “binge reads” -where he’ll read several books in a week, and then go some time without reading any. I believe Bill Gates follows this system too. Do you schedule time in your week to sit down and get through a book?

Thanks for the notes!


Vincent Barr
November 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

For years, exercise was a staple of my week. I was committed to a program, comfortable making sacrifices for this commitment, and almost never missed a workout. It felt pretty good.

Over the past 6 months, though, exercise has taken a backseat for me – and that feels not so good.

My new habit is to begin working out just 2x a week, at home with kettlebells, a pull-up bar, and bodyweight exercises. So, there will be no excuse when there are 2 feet of snow outside an I don’t want to walk to the gym.

I started last week and, believe you me, it will be a slow, painful climb haha, but I will do it.

Steve Kroll
November 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

The highlighted section of your post is really insightful. My MBTI personality type is motivated by the impact my actions have on people I care about, so connecting habits to positive benefits in relationships is relevant to me.

Thanks for taking the time to post this. Lots of people who read (myself included) take notes like this in some format, but don’t take the time to repurpose them for their online community.

Really great, Noah.

November 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Thanks for the tips. These will help my lazy arse. I recently joined the 24 hour fitness gym and want to develop the habit of going on a regular basis. Good shtuff in your blog.

Peter Fuessle
November 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Nice post Noah. I find physical exercise and diet so critical to the rest of my productivity so I focus on those habits first. When eating healthy and exercising, my mind is so much clearer and I am amazed at how much more productive I am with all other activity. To form my habits of exercise I pick a sport that I aspire to be great at. Mine is rock climbing, so whenever I run, lift weights, or eat a healthy meal I think to myself I am training to be a better climber and it motivates me to maintain those habits. Kinda helps put the habits on autopilot. Then the immediate rewards I receive from the exercise and healthy eating reinforce why I keep these habits because I am much more productive in all other areas in my life. The aspiring rock climber is “Part A” and then “Part B” is my other aspirations in life, eventually working for myself and traveling. “Part B” seems like it is more important to me overall, but I realize that “Part A” is critically important in supported and fueling me for all the work involved with “Part B”. In short, I value my health and exercise habits so much because it leads to accomplishment of one fun goal while keeping me sharp to work on my other habits that will lead to another monster goal.

November 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

actually we humans, if you look back at us at hunter gatherers we did had habit on large scale… but a lot of randomness in between, i.e. we did not go to the supermarket at 12… we randomly encountered a pray and had to take it down, the random encounters develop our senses and make us sharper, look at navy seal training, or random exercise programs like , they design to hit you from different directions in order to develop you, habit takes you the other direction, against your DNA

Joe Buschmann
November 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Excellent post. One habit I have is to run/walk up and down the stairs at work. 28 floors worth. It’s not an intense workout, but it’s not trivial either. And it fits into my day very well.

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