Man does not decide his future, he decides his habits and his habits decide his future.
Cue, Routine, and Reward. What do these three words have in common? They are what comprise the Habit Loop, which Charles Duhigg does an excellent job of explaining in his book The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business.
As we understand from the opening quote, our daily habits tend to drive us into to our future, whether that future be one of success, loss, or mediocrity, it is the things that we do day in and day out that add up to pave the path to our future.
Mr. Duhigg writes that we can change old habits that do not lead us to success or create new habits that will drive us to the success that we seek.
To illustrate habit and the power that they have over us let’s consider what happens when the alarm goes off each morning.
Cue: Your alarm goes off at a regular pre-determined time each day.
Routine: Perhaps you’re an “I hit the snooze button three times before I get up”, or maybe you’re a “my feet hit the floor the moment the alarm goes off.” Whichever you are you have a routine that happens after the alarm goes off. Maybe you then march to the bathroom and begin to brush your teeth.
Reward: That clean feeling of fresh breath means it’s time to take on the day.
This, in it’s simplest terms, is the Habit Loop, A cue ignites actions which lead to a routine which leads to a reward for performing that routine.
To change a habit, we simply change the routine while keeping the cue and reward. To create a new habit, we build it using the three parts of the habit loop.
Mr. Duhigg shows how habit is stronger and better able to drive our lives, for good or bad, than willpower or plain old positive self-talk.
I encourage you to read The Power of Habit to learn more about how this powerful ability that we all possess can change our lives.