The Power of Habit - Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg
Contributed by Roseanne Meinecke
Chapter 3

This chapter explains the rules that guide the techniques for behavioural change. In different spheres of life there often occurs a need to change a behavior, for example quitting alcohol, or a tactic in a game such as football. Dungy Tony, a new buccaneer’s couch, implemented a technique for habit change in a bid to reform the team, and make it competitive. He states in section one that it is easier to adopt a new behaviour if something is familiar with the new routine (Duhigg, 2012).The golden rule of habit change, therefore, is keeping the old cues, and rewards but changing the routine (Duhigg, 2012).Wilson, an alcoholic, says in section two that once you recognize the cues, and rewards to your habit you are half-way done reforming them (Duhigg, 2012).Therefore, once you discover cues, and rewards you only need to find different routines that would continue satisfying them in the same ways. In reforming behaviours in Buccaneers’ team, for example, Dungy was successful because he used cues that players were already accustomed to. Apart from applying the golden rule, beliefs also play a role in reforming habits. For example, as stated in section four, a victim of alcohol who applied the rule reverted back to old habits when subjected to stress while those who believed in a spiritual being did not revert back (Duhigg, 2012). It is also important to note that reforming habits requires efforts and dedication. Without efforts put by the victim, the old habit may not simply disappear.


There is more to behavior change than the golden rule. Whoever wants to reform habits must put efforts in researching the cues, and rewards associated with the habit they want to drop. For example, whoever wants to stop smoking has to find out if the stimulation is the reward for smoking, then substitute cigarette with coffee if stimulation is his motivation (Duhigg, 2012). Habit change is also complemented with belief. For example, the players at Buccaneers had to first believe that they can achieve a behaviour change, and also that behavioural change would make them more competitive in the competitions before they could succeed in changing their behaviours (Duhigg, 2012). While the author is cautious against accepting the possibility of behaviour change, substituting old behaviour for a new one is arguably the same as changing behaviors. For example, ditching cigarette for coffee is a behavior change as much as it looks like an old behavior is substituted for a new one.

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