• Alex Vikner

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Habits are the small decisions and actions taken every day. Your life today is the sum of your habits. They define whether you are in shape or out of shape, successful or unsuccessful etc. We become what we repeatedly do. Hence, when you learn to transform your habits, you can transform your life.

10 Key Insights

  1. Habits emerge without our consent because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Habits form within our brain in a 3-step loop: (1) a cue tells your brain to go into automatic mode; (2) a routine which can be physical, mental or emotional is performed; (3) a reward which helps your brain decide if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future is given.

  2. Cravings drive habits and are what makes them so powerful. Often, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist.

  3. Any change can occur within the right framework. To create a new habit, put together a cue, a routine, and a reward, then cultivating a craving that drives the loop. However, you can’t just remove a bad habit, you can only change it by using the same cue and reward, but modifying the routine.

  4. Belief keeps you from relapsing. Everyone relapses to old habits in times of stress but the key to to not ditching your new habits completely is the belief that you can stick to them.

  5. Keystone habits have wide-reaching effects. Habits are contagious and just changing a few key ones can lead to a larger lifestyle overhaul.

  6. Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage. Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favors another small win. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

  7. Willpower can be learned. Our willpower gets exhausted throughout the day which is why we tend to give in to bad cravings at dinner. Just like our muscles, willpower needs to be gradually trained to get stronger.

  8. Organizational habits evolve from the collective habits of employees. Like individuals, companies are made up of habits that are necessary for work to get done.

  9. Good leaders embrace crises as moments for change. Crises are the perfect time to reevaluate organizational habits because people are most open to change. A good leader uses the crises to catalyze important institutional changes.

  10. Our weak social ties are often more important than our close ones. Indeed, people with which we have weak links usually have access to information we don’t.


Because habits emerge within the brain, often unconsciously, we tend to feel like we're unable to control them. However, by being aware of them and applying the right framework, we can cultivate our own habits and take charge of our own life.