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Did You Know that Habits Define Your Future?

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Do habits define your future? As only 5% of your behavior is conscious, the question is; What about the remaining 95%? A big part of that is defined by your habits. In this post, we will discuss the importance of habits when it comes to goals, skills, and performance.

Habits are the Key for Your Future, Skills & Goals | Beyond Sapiens

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How do habits define your future?

A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and often happens subconsciously. What’s important to understand, then, is that whether you actively focus on your habits or not, you already have them, and they’re literally defining your future.

It’s pretty self-evident; let’s take nutrition, for example. A positive habit, such as consuming fruits and vegetables each day, will lead you to a much more positive future than if you were to eat fries and hot dogs daily.

You would have to agree, then, that increasing your awareness of your habits is crucial so that you don’t let your subconscious define your future. It would be ideal if our brain would automatically install all the habits we need to achieve a specific goal, but this process is much more complex than that.

How habits define your future on a neural level 

To better understand it, we have to look at the habit-creation process on a neural level. The human brain has an ability called “plasticity,” which means that our brain is literally capable of changing and evolving at any point in life.

In terms of habits, we can talk about behavioral plasticity, which occurs when you learn new actions, and your brain changes and creates new connections according to that. So when you repeat a specific action, you connect it to internal and external feedback.

For example, when you start the habit of running, it may be reinforced by experiencing an amazing feeling of flow while you run. Or you may create resistance towards this habit due to an external event, such as poor weather.

These unconscious responses will guide your actions and motives in the future if you do not consciously control them. This means you may unconsciously build positive or harmful habits only by reacting to internal and external feedback.

On the other hand, when you decide to redirect your actions and build habits consciously, your can control your behavior, work towards desired outcomes, and even improve your skill sets.

Habits define your future
Habits define your future The power of habits in our daily life Wood Mazar Neal 2022 p2

Habits & Goals?

Now that you know more about the habit-creation process, it’s time to understand how to create habits that actually serve you and bring you closer to the maximization of your potential. That means habits that are connected to your goals.

Setting a goal is crucial, as we’ve talked about in a recent post, but that’s just half of the process. The other half is to design a set of habits that you can sustain in the long run and that work collectively to bring you closer to your goal. Designing habits that serve a goal doesn’t happen automatically and requires conscious effort.

In fact, research shows that our habits might even be disconnected from our current goals. For example, imagine you have the goal of getting in shape, but you always miss workouts because you have a daily habit of sitting on your couch watching Netflix when you should hit the gym. You’re following a habit, just not the right one to achieve your goal.

So, how can you address this? One of the best things you can do is to look at the goal you want to achieve, understand the key habits you need to develop to make that happen, and then track them daily. It might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s one of the best things you can do to ensure you are taking the right steps toward your goal.

We track more than 20 daily habits each, but that didn’t happen overnight. The habit-creation process requires time, so take it slow and steady. Start with a couple of new, conscious habits you want to track every day. And after some time, usually a few weeks, you can start adding new ones.

Habits & Skills

Habits are necessary to reach your goal, but also, for mastering a skill. In fact, habits are important yet often underestimated factors in learning and developing skills. When we create habits that support our learning and skills, we create automatic behaviors that enable us to use our cognitive resources more efficiently.

For example, one may want to improve as a speaker. To do that, you need to develop a habit of speaking so that you don’t need to think about “how to speak.” Instead, you can focus on your hand movements, gestures, and all the small details of your presence. When speaking becomes automated, you have more focused attention available for the other aspects to improve holistically as a speaker.

Creating automated habits takes time, as the activity needs to become hardwired in your brain before you can detach your attention away from it. Hardwired habits reinforce your skills and enable you to focus on different aspects of them.

The more cognitive resources you have available, the better your brain connects the dots, enabling you to adapt, respond, and test different solutions. That’s why habits are a fundamental part of expanding your skills, as you have more room for creativity and innovation.

Do habits define your future?

There’s a powerful quote from Will Durante that says, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” As Sapiens, habits are one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal to create the future you desire, so we hope this post gave you a deeper understanding of why to be more conscious about them.

If you need help with creating or tracking your habits, and you’re ready to go Beyond Sapiens, we recommend you read more about our Business & Individual Maximization Coaching programs!

Related Research & Articles

“Habits and Goals in Human Behavior: Separate but Interacting Systems”

“The relationship between habits and motor skills in humans”

“Revving habits up and down, new insight into how the brain forms habits”

  • Summary: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200227144230.htm

“Old habit-controlling neurons may also help the brain learn new tricks”

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