Interlacing stories of Starbucks employees, the CEO of ALCOA, Michael Phelps, a compulsive gambler, Target, and the findings of MIT researchers, Charles Duhigg presents an intriguing case for the role of habits in everyday life in his bestseller “The Power of Habit.” Among this wide collection of stories, Duhigg unearths the story of Eugene Pauly, a patient that has taught the medical society more about habits than any other single individual (p. . Pauly, or E.P. as he is referred to in medical research, suffered from viral encephalitis, which ultimately destroyed a portion of his brain. Through years of researching E.P. was able to form new habits even without an ability to consciously remember them. For example, he could take a walk and return to his house, although he was not able to describe what his house looked like or even his address. Through careful study of his life after the disease, an understanding of how habits work was formed, their strength and ability to subside both in conscious and subconscious thought, and their ability to override all else, including common sense.
For the personal trainer, it is imperative to understand the habit loop in your life and the lives of your clients. Recognizing the habit loop is the first step.
Cue → Routine → Reward
Understanding this loop is the difference between a client getting up early to exercise and enjoy a healthy smoothie before work and a client sleeping in and swinging by the donut shop on the way to the office. Each of these scenarios entails the cue – routine – reward loop and yet each has vastly different consequences. Changing outcomes, for clients and for yourself, requires an understanding of the habits that form them.
Today’s Opportunity: Begin to notice the habits in your life. What is the cue for you to exercise? Pick up a cookie? What is the reward you enjoy after each? Habits are everywhere in our lives, recognizing them is the first step to harnessing them to create the life you want.