Charles Duhigg’s best-selling The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, describes how to change your habits and improve the way you’re blogging your way to personal branding success.

By taking a fresh look at your blogging habits, you can improve your ability to be consistently present with helpful, relevant information.

Consistent blogging visibility, in turn, will make reading your blog a habit for others…expanding your reach and reinforcing your personal brand in your followers’ minds.

The Power of Habit is likely to provide you with a new perspective on your other marketing and brand-building habits, opening the door to improvement in other areas.

Although powerful, your habits are not your destiny! Once you understand how they operate, you can change your habits.

The habit loop

The power of habits in business and in life–both positive and negative–comes from The Habit Loop, a 3-part system which puts our brain on auto-pilot:

  1. Cue. Habitual behavior begins when you encounter a stimulus. The cue can be a sensation, (i.e., I’m hungry), a stimulus, (i.e., a sound or image), or an emotion, (i.e., I’m lonesome.)
  2. Routine. The cue is followed by a routine, a sequence of behaviors that occurs without consciously thinking about them. When you put on your shoes in the morning, you don’t think about how you’re going to tie the laces, and when you back out of your driveway, you’re not aware of the steps you take to put the car in gear and glance in the rear view mirror.
  3. Reward. The reward is the benefit you enjoy after you’ve performed the routine. Rewards include a feeling of accomplishment, a burst of energy, emotional connection with others, or a renewed sense of purpose.

The Golden Rule of Habit Change describes the best way to change a habit is to vary the routine that follows a cue…but, do it in a way that you continue to receive the reward you’re used to receiving.

My current Personal Branding Blog routine

Let’s take a look at how the Habit Loop and the Golden Rule applies to my blogging Personal Branding Blog guest posts, and explore ways I might improve my routine, i.e., write more efficiently and improve the quality of my posts.

  • Cue. The cue for each week’s blog post is an email reminder that arrives 2 days before the blog post deadline. A second, follow-up, reminder arrives early the day the post is due.
  • Routine. The arrival of the follow-up email is, traditionally, when I “get serious” about each blog post. After the arrival of the second email, I begin to explore potential blog post topics and titles. Writing doesn’t begin, however, until early evening–and often extends until late in the evening.
  • Reward. My ultimate reward takes place Wednesday afternoon, when I view the published post and track the comments and Tweets it has attracted. But, my immediate reward, of course, is the feeling of victory as I watch the topic take shape while I’m writing it and rereading the post when I’ve finished.

Although I like the challenge of a weekly deadline, the 48-hour “cue-routine-reward” schedule involves a certain amount of stressful brinkmanship. A traffic jam on the bridge over the Great Bay, a family emergency, or a weather-related power outage can cause serious problems.

Changing my weekly blogging routine

There are several ways I could productively change my routine:

  • Get ahead of schedule. The easiest, and, probably, the most effective approach, would be work a week ahead of time by submitting 2 blog posts during one week. Once I did that, I could still follow my 48-hour and 24-hour cues, but I will always be one week ahead of time. This would reduce the stress of working on deadline and provide more time to review my posts after I’ve written the first draft.
  • Pay more attention to the initial email. Instead of waiting for the second e-mail reminder to arrive–considering that my “cue”– I could begin to write my weekly post when I receive the 48-hour reminder. This would build in a buffer and allow more time to self-edit my posts.
  • Prepare my own email alerts. Even better, using my calendar program and/or e-mail program, I could set up my own e-mail alerts. Instead of waiting for the weekend to prepare my blog posts, and starting after the receipt of the 48-hour and same-day email reminders, I could create my own deadlines and reminders.

The takeaway, of course, is not the particular details, above, but the process of examining current work habits and looking for more efficient and productive routines–something everyone can do on their own.

Profit from the positive side of The Power of Habit

The above is just one example of the way that The Power of Habit can help you improve your ability to blog and market your way to personal branding success.

Habits are usually viewed as negatives, i.e., lose weight, stop smoking, cure addictions, etc.

But, as The Power of Habit describes, there is a positive side of habits that, once you look for them, can play a major role in improving your personal branding success.

Until I read The Power of Habit, I never realized how much I depended on the cue, routine, reward cycle to keep my posts on schedule; it never occurred to me that I could modify my blogging routine and enjoy more family time on weekends while preparing higher-quality posts.

What do you think? Share your comments and questions about examining your blogging and other personal branding habits, and looking for ways you can vary your routine and enjoy greater success.


Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. He helps create successful marketing materials that look great & get results, and can turn any complex marketing or writing task into baby steps. Visit his blog to learn more or ask a question.