The Power of Habit

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Those practices that we do over and over determine outcomes in our lives. Reputable individuals that have lived throughout human civilization all made good habits a part of their daily lives. Habits are about repeating a behavior. Parallel parking, gambling, exercising, brushing your teeth and every other habit-forming activity all follow the same behavioral and neurological patterns, says New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg. His new book The Power of Habit explores the science behind why we do what we do – and how companies are now working to use our habit formations to sell and market products to us.

 Developing new habits and/or breaking old ones is often difficult for individuals. Some people argue that one cannot break an old habit, but one can develop new habits. BJ Fogg directs the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. He has examined the question: how do humans trigger a behavior that is a habit for them. It hit BJ Fogg that he needed to make it really simple. He wanted to incorporate a tiny change into his day (like one tiny sip of water or one push up and so on). People create tiny habits where there are routines already set up. His research indicates that tiny habits work out really well. Fogg discovered that the secret was to incorporate a new habit by adding it in after an existing behavior. He teaches that if you use an existing behavior and you put a new behavior after, then the triggers are your existing behaviors. He says that you don’t need to set alarms, but you need to establish what will come after. He urges us to start practicing tiny habits. Fogg teaches that one’s existing behavior becomes anchor for the new behavior.

When we incorporate habits that are beneficial to us into our daily lives, our lives change. History shows that people with successful habits then have successful lives. What’s great about living today is that new science enlightens us that habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows in The Power of Habit, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives. Now we can achieve success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. We all have the power to transform our habits. Science shows practices that can be used to help people transform their habits. This is powerful because as we transform our habits, our lives change. The things we do daily, over and over determine what our future looks like. An undeniable lesson from history is that we are what we repeatedly do. We are our habits.

We encourage you to check out the following resources that will help you to better understand habits :

  1. BJ Fogg’s work
  2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  3. StickK  – helps you to set goals and then achieve them. uses a Commitment Contract to help you build better habits.   A Commitment Contract is a binding agreement you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your intentions—and it does this by utilizing the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change. asks their users to sign Commitment Contracts, and they help users define their goal (whatever it may be), acknowledge what it’ll take to accomplish it, and leverage the power of putting money on the line to turn that goal into a reality.
  4. Habit Forge – It is a free resource and it works as follows: you tell the website what habit you want to make or break. The website then inspires and encourages you every day. Habitforge will check in daily to see how you did that particular day.
  5. James Clear – James Clear’s blog post about 3 things that you can do to Build Better Habits is very helpful.
  6. Gregory Ciotti
  7. 99U – There are some insightful articles about habits on the website
  8. S.J. Scott
  9. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

 What habits are a part of your daily life? ……… What habits do you need to change and/or add to your daily routine? We are indeed what we repeatedly do. Take a look at the habits that make you who you are.