#005 The Power of Habit

How “The Power of Habit” can help you to succeed – A Reading Recommendation

Our Students know that I occasionally talk about habits and use to teach them also in our modules. This lasts way back and already 2005, when I was working on my Mastering Book I have already integrated these teachings without really understanding why, just out of a gut feel. The -WHY- came to my better understanding when I found the wonderful book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

I highly recommend this book to everybody who can think of some bad habits in their life which would be desirable to change. Everybody has some bad habits and when we are honest with ourselves, life would be better if we can figure out how to overcome one or the other. This could be stupidly tiny things like not making the bed in the morning through starting the day with the smartphone to drinking alcohol too regularly, smoking, or eating titbits when watching an episode before getting into the bed or doing too little sport.

Everybody has such things and it can be quite nasty to change that. Understanding the mechanics of habits can be quite powerful and it also sheds some light on the power of habits for mixing and mastering, because after reading this book I finally understood why I am insisting on creating habits within your workflow procedures in mixing and mastering. As a matter of fact a habit bypasses your conscious thinking as soon as it is established.

The scientific reason why I teach habits is because the right habits can empower you to really focus on the creative and artistic parts of those complex and nonlinear tasks while you do the core steps always in the same fashion on autopilot. You don’t need to think about the consequences of a creative move because you know the consequences as you work with the same workflow all the time so that you know it inside out.

I just want to share with you a glimpse of the well and comprehensive presented knowledge of that insanely valuable book here.

What is a Habit Loop?

A habit consists of three elements which create the habit loop: It’s A trigger which sets off a routine which is followed by a reward. The trigger could be the demand to create a new audio track, followed by the routine of routing and coloring it according to the habits we are teaching and the rewards of having a comfortable feeling of satisfaction that you can navigate through your 120 tracks counting mixing project with ease and without thinking.

There are three interesting and valuable scientific core findings in conjunction with this loop:

1. At the beginning, when the procedure is new and not yet a habit, your brain works hard throughout the full process. As soon as the habit is set your brain is on autopilot and you don´t think any longer to work though the process. You free up brain power for your creativity.

2. Another core finding is that in the phase when you establish a new habit the “reward brain spike” comes with the reward. If you repeat the new sequence often enough all of a sudden the “reward brain spike” comes right after the trigger. This is the moment when your new habit is set once and forever. 

3. Setting habits is like engraving something into stone. It lasts long; actually it lasts forever. We have an area in the brain which is called basal ganglia. This is the area which controls automatic core tasks like breathing, walking, and also habits. Understanding the power of habits leads to the understanding that you can’t erase a bad habit.

This finding makes it easy to understand why it is so hard to get over addictions and bad habits in general. On the other hand this gives you also the tool to overcome a bad habit by understanding that the only choice you have is to replace it with a stronger new habit. This is also why addicted people remain addicted even if they are sober. They need to make sure that the new habit remains strong enough.

The understanding of the last point leads to the recommendation to always focus on changing one habit at the time and taking the time to repeat it to a point when it really becomes ingrained and strong, particularly when you are dealing with nasty and heavily ingrained bad habits.
Once it is well established you can move on to the next one if you want to.

Welcome to the world of self improvement and happy new habits work!

Friedemann Tischmeyer, August 2023