Friday, February 17, 2012

Habits

I just read this great article on shopping habits
www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html

The article focuses on shopping habits and follows how Target has used their understanding of habits (specifically when they are vulnerable) and analysis of buying patterns to acquire new customers

The main thought I had while reading the article was how I could use the information about habits for self improvement.

Here are some key takeaways:

- Many choices we make everyday are based on habits rather than conscious decision making.
- If you aren't actively fighting a habit, they will reemerge.
- You must be deliberate about identifying cues and rewards. You can't just will yourself into [breaking] a habit.
- a powerful way to fix a habit is to piggyback on an existing habit
- eliminate cues. Close your email, turn off your phone.
- @todo identify cues that cause bad habits of mine and eliminate them
- Consumer shopping habits can change drastically with major life events(marriage,new job, graduation). How about personal habits? How can I exploit this? - example: start an exercise routine when I move to a new apartment.

The questions the author took to identify a cue (cookie eating habit):
Where are you? (Sitting at my desk.)
What time is it? (3:36 p.m.)
What’s your emotional state? (Bored.)
Who else is around? (No one.)
What action preceded the urge? (Answered an e-mail.)

What was the cue? Hunger? Boredom? Low blood sugar? And what was the reward? The taste of the cookie itself? The temporary distraction from my work? The chance to socialize with colleagues?


if you want to start running in the morning, it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (like always putting on your sneakers before breakfast or leaving your running  clothes next to your bed) and a clear reward (like a midday treat or even the sense of accomplishment that comes from ritually recording your miles in a log book). After a while, your brain will start anticipating that reward — craving the treat or the feeling of accomplishment — and there will be a measurable neurological impulse to lace up your jogging shoes each morning.