Thursday, January 30, 2014


As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been reading about habits. [The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg] I am enjoying this book! That's a surprise because I usually get impatient with books like this--start skimming and skipping sections, and then give up before finishing it. Not so this time. I'm finding both the information and the case studies fascinating.

While each habit is composed of common elements (a cue that sets it in motion, the behavioral routine at the heart of the habit, and the reward/payoff), each one is unique to an individual person. Once formed and ingrained, habits stay in us permanently--even if they go unused for a very long time. This helps explain how I could set foot in the gym after a decade off and pick up right where I left off. It took a lot of research and work all those years ago for me to establish a workout routine. This time around, it was automatic. This also explains how we can easily fall back into long-unused habits that we hoped we'd left far behind.

Much as I have found the information about habit formation and transformation fascinating, I have been even more gripped by the information about willpower. Call it grit, self-discipline, self-regulation, self-control--or willpower. Did you know that we have a limited supply of it? According to this book, "willpower isn't just a skill. It's a muscle...and it gets tired as it works harder, so there's less power left over for other things...If you want to do something that requires have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day...If you use it up too early on tedious tasks...all the strength will be gone..." [Duhigg, p. 137] I had been thinking that the reason I lost my life these last few years was due to using all my energy and time at work. Now I realize that it was more than that. I was using enormous amounts of willpower at work every day as well. No wonder I had none left for me.

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