31 Charles Duhigg Quotes (The Power of Habit)

Charles Duhigg is a reporter for The New York Times, and also the author of The Power of Habit, about the science of habit formation in our lives, companies and societies.

If you haven’t yet read ‘The Power of Habit‘, you should definitely check it out!

Here’s a collection of the best Charles Duhigg quotes from the book:


31 Charles Duhigg Quotes

1. “Simply giving employees a sense of agency- a feeling that they are in control, that they have genuine decision-making authority – can radically increase how much energy and focus they bring to their jobs.” – Charles Duhigg

2. “The best agencies understood the importance of routines. The worst agencies were headed by people who never thought about it, and then wondered why no one followed their orders.” – Charles Duhigg

3. “This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.” – Charles Duhigg

4. “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” – Charles Duhigg

5. “As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives—in the gym, or a money management program—that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.” – Charles Duhigg

6. “Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits.” – Charles Duhigg

7. “If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.” – Charles Duhigg

8. “Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage.” – Charles Duhigg

9. “The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.” – Charles Duhigg


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10. “This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.” – Charles Duhigg


11. “But to change an old habit, you must address an old craving. You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine.” – Charles Duhigg

12. “Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. Habits often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” – Charles Duhigg

13. “If you want to do something that requires willpower—like going for a run after work—you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day.” – Charles Duhigg

14. “So at most companies, an unspoken compact emerges: It’s okay to be ambitious, but if you play too rough, your peers will unite against you. On the other hand, if you focus on boosting your own department, rather than undermining your rival, you’ll probably get taken care of over time.” – Charles Duhigg

15. “The key to victory was creating the right routines.” – Charles Duhigg

16. “Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” – Charles Duhigg

17. “Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” – Charles Duhigg

18. “Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.” – Charles Duhigg

19. “It is facile to imply that smoking, alcoholism, overeating, or other ingrained patters can be upended without real effort. Genuine change requires work and self-understanding of the cravings driving behaviours.” – Charles Duhigg


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20. “Someday soon, say predictive analytics experts, it will be possible for companies to know our tastes and predict our habits better than we know ourselves.” – Charles Duhigg


21. “There’s a natural instinct embedded in friendship, a sympathy that makes us willing to fight for someone we like when they are treated unjustly.” – Charles Duhigg

22. “When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.” – Charles Duhigg

23. “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” – Charles Duhigg

24. “How are you going to study tonight? What are you going to do tomorrow? How do you know you’re ready for your test?’ It trained me to set goals.” – Charles Duhigg

25. “Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” – Charles Duhigg

26. “Studies have documented that families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence.” – Charles Duhigg


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27. “There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” – Charles Duhigg


28. “Whether selling a new song, a new food, or a new crib, the lesson is the same: If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it.” – Charles Duhigg

29. “And the best way to strengthen willpower and give students a leg up, studies indicate, is to make it into a habit.” – Charles Duhigg

30. “Giving employees a sense of control improved how much self-discipline they brought to their jobs.” – Charles Duhigg

31. “I think I’m smart, and I know I was a good mom. But there wasn’t a lot I could point to and say, that’s why I’m special.” – Charles Duhigg



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