By the time you get to be a big fancy adult with a career and a house, your daily routine is basically just a collection of unconscious habits: You make coffee, commute by car, attend meetings and answer e-mails, shop in certain stores, watch TV and repeat. It becomes effortless. Your brain goes into autopilot. Unfortunately, this also means it becomes hard to make changes.
To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine. That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit, and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long–six months to a year–requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
- Habits: How They Form And How To Break Them, from NPR
- How Habits Hold Us, from WSJ
- The Four Habits That Form Habits from Zen Habits
- How Do You Break Bad Habits? from Farnam Street
- Developing Good Study Habits Really Works from PT
- The effort required to change behavior requires deeper changes than we anticipate.
- Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit from Marginal Revolution
- What Does It Take To Break A Bad Habit? from Discover