I am a person who flourishes in structure. For the last few years I’ve found that if I don’t follow my morning routine, I’m pretty much useless. My wife can attest. Until I discovered this, I still had regular habits, they were just unintentional and unguided.
I was pretty much a collection of bad habits.
Once I started to realize what was going on, I decided to take stock of the various parts of my life and write down how I thought I was doing in each area.
How was I doing as a husband? Needs improvement. As a father? Novice, but promising. Christian? Could always do better. Student? It’s complicated. Video game player? High marks. Employee? Hmm…
You get the idea.
I’m not saying I was a bad person, I was just being very reactionary and lazy in my life. I would get up later than I should have, hopefully get a shower, get to work late, work hard when I felt like it until I reached the time when I went home, and tried to convince my wife that the best thing for us to do was sit down and watch TV or play video games.
My plans were being dictated by what was on TV that night. What’s more important is that started to bother me more and more.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is 416 pages of journalistic study on habits and how they affect our lives, our work, and our society. While many of the examples from the book are effective, the one that sticks out to me is the case of a man named Eugene.
At some point in Eugene’s life, Eugene’s memory centers stopped communicating with the front of his brain. If you introduced yourself, he would forget who you were, sometimes before you got to “how are you.” Eugene lost the ability to learn from his mistakes. If you asked him how to get to the bathroom in his own house, he couldn’t tell you.
Eugene was somehow still able to function. He would wake up to his clock radio every morning, go make himself breakfast, eat, turn on the History channel, and veg out. Sometimes, if he was tired, Eugene would go back to bed, only to wake up again later and start the process over again, completely unaware that he had already eaten.
Eugene was living every moment of his life only being driven by his appetites. Somewhere along the line he lost the tools that you and I take for granted. The ability to look at what you’re doing, examine the results, and decide to make a change.
There’s part of me that really identifies with Eugene’s problem. I was doing whatever felt good in the moment. At least Eugene had an excuse.
So, I started changing my habits. I tried to be accountable. I worked on myself. Years later, I’m a still work in progress. It started with the simple changes, but I’ve built on each new habit as I get comfortable.
My end goal is that if one day I end up in the same position as Eugene, I’ll still be doing pretty good for myself. Instead of continuously running behind, by the time my family wakes up, I’ll already be done with breakfast, got my Bible reading done, and I’ll already have a few hours of work done.
If you share my goal of being a high-functioning zombie, then I highly recommend Power of Habit. I’ve got a physical copy, but prefer the audiobook read by Mike Chamberlain. Another great book on the subject is Atomic Habits by James Clear, which focuses on habit stacking. If you’re trying to be a creative person, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is a great book for constructing a creative workflow and fighting writer’s block.
Power of Habit is the eleventh book I’ve read in 2019. If you’ve got any suggestions for other books, I would love to hear them since I’ve decided to read 100 books again this year. If you want to see this year’s list so far, just check out revengemethod.com
Keep it real.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Perfect for anyone trying to start the new year off right, this instant classic explores how we can change our lives by changing our habits.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
With a new Afterword by the author