Book Review: The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg the Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit on Amazon

Does this sound like you? Before I joined the Marine Corps, I hated running. A whole lot. But I needed that 25 minute three mile to get a lot closer to 18:00! Creating the habit of following a disciplined running program was extremely difficult. I really didn’t know how to efficiently form new habits, or even how habits worked.

I wish I had had this book then!

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg describes the universal basic building blocks of habits, how to effect changes in habits, and how well-managed habits can revolutionize whole organizations. As Duhigg describes it, every habit consists of three repeated steps: a cue, the routine, and a reward. The cue is what triggers your automatic, oftentimes subconscious habit. The routine is your habit occurring on autopilot. The reward is whatever pleasure that reinforces the habit, makes you keep doing it, and can cause a discouraging withdrawal if you try to break a habit cold.

For the candidate

I would highly recommend The Power of Habit for any candidates who want to add habits of running, working out, or studying in preparation for OCS. There are many habits you probably have now that are incompatible with OCS–think smoking, dipping, drinking coffee (any caffeine), or even, like me, eating an ice cream sandwich after dinner each night. On the other hand, you need to form new habits as easily and painlessly as possible: working out, running, stretching, studying, and maybe even daily shaving.

To change habits and create new ones, I strongly recommend you do some research in The Power of Habit.

In the meantime, enjoy this flow chart from Duhigg’s website, which gives a basic template for effecting habit change.

Charles Duhigg Power of Habit flowchart
Click to expand or right-click to save the habit-changing flowchart
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