After completing the second edit of my novel, I decided to re-read the one novel that inspired me to be a novelist. I first read The Coldest Winter Ever while in high school and finished it in two days. And since I chose to re-read it again then blog about it right now, it’s obvious TCWE is a book I’ve never been able to forget.
The protagonist, Winter Santiaga, was a girl I felt I knew well. She lived next door and I rode the train with her to school, well sometimes because she was hardly ever in school because her parents were cool and mine weren’t. I didn’t grow up in the projects like Winter, I also didn’t sport diamond jewelry until my late 20s. But I could identify with this smart and cunning character and as a 30-something writer I realize why.
I’m a bookworm. I like gaining information and being taken into an author’s world by just turning the page in a book. There have been many books that have changed my perception on everything from mental health and storytelling. Some of which of read more than once (The Power of Now). But this one book sits at the top of the list and it’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
I read this book 3 years ago when it was first released. The word habits resonates with me because I believe it to be the core of who we are as human beings. Everything we do is based on habits from getting up in the morning and brushing our teeth to having to crack our fingers before we type on the computer. Some of our habits are good and some are awful. The Power of Habit breaks down the role of habits in our lives and in business, even showing how major brands have used habits to make a lot of money.
Two examples of how habits can change your life, as mentioned in the book, is the process of losing weight or quitting smoking. The author Charles Duhigg gives an example of a 9-5’er who wants to lose weight and cutout eating junk from the vending machine. After close evaluation of self, they realized that they only went to get something from the vending machine whenever they needed a break from looking at their computer or when they got bored.
After realizing this, the subject sets a time everyday to stop and speak to a co-worker. What they realized was less trips to the vending machine, weight loss, and a better relationship with co-workers. Another example was of a woman who wanted to quit smoking. She didn’t realize how smoking was ruining her health and her livelihood. Once she got out of the habit of smoking, she ate right, then that habit lead to her working out religiously. These two individuals traded bad habits for better ones.
My favorite part of the book was when the author broke down how major businesses like Proctor & Gamble and Target made habits grow loyalty in their brand and keep customers coming back for more. In P&G’s case, they were stumped on figuring out how they could create interest in their new product Febreze. Marketing it as a product that just dissolved odors wasn’t enough. So when they asked their testing groups how they were using Febreze and discovered that some of them were using it to a finishing scent when they were done cleaning up a room or making a bed, they marketed this and saw great success. Target did something similar, except they watched what their shoppers were routinely buying then sending them circulars with related products.
One example that stuck out was one of a young girl who shopped at Target and gave them some form of contact. On her first visit she purchased baby lotion and other essentials related to baby. When they sent her the circular, it was filled with baby items like clothes, bathtubs and the like. The girl was a teenager and her father was less than pleased that the company was sending his daughter circulars filled with baby stuff, fearing that they would force the idea on her of having a baby. A few months later when reps for the company reached out to apologize to the father he apologized to them and revealed she was pregnant and preparing to have her baby.
The Power of Habit is a powerful book I recommend. It applies to all areas of life and shows how our lives are shaped by our habits. And if we want better lives we’d be happy with, we have to take a close look at our habits and decide if they are aligned with our goals.