The Power of Habit

I went downstairs to my bike this morning and realized something. My mind had been on autopilot for the past ten minutes. I often get moments like this. Where I don’t remember if I locked my apartment or not.

I used to go back and check. But it was usually locked. In fact, I can’t think about a moment it wasn’t. I find this very interesting. The fact that we do things out of habit. When we leave our home, we lock the door. But habits are way more powerful than that trivial example.

Charles Duhigg, the author of Power of Habit quote research showing that 40-45 % of our daily activities are due to habits. In other words, we do things routinely a lot. This makes it super important to understand our habits and implement new ones that help us move towards our goals.

Three Phases of Any Habit

Every single habit has three phases. A cue, routine and reward. Let me give you another example from my own life. Because I really want you to understand this powerful theory. Since New Year’s Eve, I have been starting to work out at a gym. Such a classic New Years Resolution, I know. Armed up with the knowledge from Charles Duhigg’s book, I wanted to create a habit going to the gym. I started to do the following habit:

Cue: when on my way to work
Routine: pass by the gym and do one workout
Reward: after the workout, eat a chocolate protein bar

All habits that you have in your life have some kind these cornerstones. The cue, routine and the reward. Where the cue is the trigger for your routine, the routine is the thing you are doing and the reward is the pleasurable thing you get when doing the routine.

So how can you use this in your job hunt?

First of all, you need to think about some SMART goals that you have. Think about some goals that are specific, measurable, approachable, reasonable and time-bound. Then construct habits that support those goals.

One habit that you could have could be:

Adding People On LinkedIn

Cue: on my daily commute
Routine: I will add one new person on LinkedIn
Reward: when I have done so, I can do whatever I am usually doing on my commute.

Preparing for the Big Interview

Another habit can be:

Cue: before going to a job interview
Routine: I will do at least one mock interview with a friend
Reward: when I have done the mock interview, I will take me and my friend out for lunch

This might sound trivial and even silly at first. But, think about the implication of this little habit. Something that takes maybe 5 minutes every day. If you do it consistently over a year, you will have reached out to 365 people over the course a year. Almost 400contacts.

That is the whole strength with making new habits in your life. It is these things that are routinely done and they can be super powerful as long as they are good things.

The important thing is that you tie the routines that you want to do to cues in your life. Like, eating breakfast, going to school, or something else. It is important that the cue is already present to trigger the routine.

Conflicting Habits

To me, one of the greatest challenges is how habits often conflict when I try to implement them. For instance, with my workout habit, I had some challenges keeping to my habit one time when I had to go away for the week to Gothenburg. Then I was in a new location and didn’t have the same gym as I was going to. Other times, it can be two habits that are conflicting with each other. Like, often having morning meetings and working out in the morning.

With the inviting new people to your LinkedIn habit, maybe you find this problematic for some reason that I don’t know right now. But, the fact is pretty clear. If 40-45 % of what we do are habits, then I think we should definitely give it a try and think about:

a) what habits do we have right now?

b) what are our goals?

c) how can we implement habits that help us reach our goals?

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